Melissa Marr – Ink Exchange
110. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (2008)
Wicked Lovely, Book 2
Read my review of:
– Book 1: Wicked Lovely
Length: 328 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Urban Fantasy
Started: 05 September 2009
Finished: 08 September 2009
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Because I enjoyed Wicked Lovely so much.
Being marked by a
Faerie King: not as much fun
as you might expect.
Summary: Leslie, Aislinn’s best (mortal) friend, is having a tough time of it. Her father’s never around, and drunk when he is, her drug-addict older brother has pimped Leslie out to be raped by his dealer, and she has no one in whom she’s able to confide. She’s a survivor, though, and has decided to reclaim her life… starting with her body. She wants to get a tattoo, and she’s found the perfect one – a pair of dark, mysterious eyes surrounded by Celtic knotwork and shadowy wings. But it’s not just any tattoo, it’s the sign of Irial, the King of the Dark Court of the faeries. By getting the tattoo, Leslie unknowingly binds herself to Irial, who needs a mortal conduit to channel fear, jealousy, rage, and the other strong emotions on which the Dark Fae feed. But Aislinn and the rest of the Summer Court want to keep Leslie safely away from the faery realm – particularly Niall, Keenan’s advisor, who is not only in love with Leslie, but also has his own history with Irial… and so knows exactly how much danger Leslie’s in.
Review: While I didn’t like Ink Exchange quite as much as Wicked Lovely, it was still a thoroughly absorbing read. I was coming off a book that couldn’t keep me interested for more than a few paragraphs at a time, so having a book whose interesting characters and compelling plot kept me up raptly reading long past my bedtime was a real treat.
Most of the things I loved about Wicked Lovely – the gritty, dark world-building; the excellent characterization, the clever twisting of conventional faerie lore – all of that was still present in Ink Exchange. Leslie’s also a fascinating protagonist, shattered and scared but still strong. While I don’t particularly identify with her (thank goodness), I bet there are (unfortunately) a lot of teens out there who will, and Marr should be applauded for once again giving readers a heroine with both brains and a spine, who is not pleased when her choices are taken away from her.
However, I felt like there just wasn’t as much going on in Ink Exchange as there was in the previous book, leaving it feeling a little – not light, not given the subject matter – but thin. Instead of the shifting loyalties and tangled romantic threads and multiple sympathetic narrators and piles upon piles of faery lore we got in Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange focuses almost exclusively on Leslie and her two would-be suitors, which, while interesting, wasn’t quite enough to really round out the book.
I also might have liked Ink Exchange a little less because Irial’s not nearly as sympathetic a character as Keenan was, despite the fact that (as Irial points out), what he’s doing to Leslie is at base no different from what Keenan did to Aislinn. (Also despite the fact that in this book, Keenan too comes off as more of a jerk than he did in Wicked Lovely.) Maybe it’s because the outcome of Irial’s attentions is grimmer, or maybe because Irial seems much less torn up about the consequences of keeping his Court intact, but he didn’t stir my empathy nearly so much… which in turn made the whole conflict of the book a little bit less gray, and therefore a little bit less interesting.
But! Again, those are all pretty minor points in comparison to how quickly this book sucked me in, and kept me reading, totally lost in the world of faeries myself. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: While it does focus on different characters than does Wicked Lovely (or the third book, Fragile Eternity), there are a lot of references to what’s come before, so it’s not really a stand-alone, and I wouldn’t recommend reading these books out of order. But for fantasy fans, Marr manages to write compellingly readable teen urban fantasy that feels immediate and real, without insulting the intelligence of either her narrators or her readers.
Links: Melissa Marr’s Website (Caution: video with sound plays automatically)
Other Reviews: 3 Evil Cousins, Becky’s Book Reviews, The Book Muncher, Book Nut, Books and Other Thoughts, Bookshelves of Doom, Carrie’s YA Bookshelf, Darque Reviews, Dear Author, Devourer of Books, I Heart Monster, Ink and Paper, J. Kaye’s Book Blog, Juiciliciousss Reviews, Just Your Typical Book Blog, Karin’s Book Nook, Kids Lit, Literary Escapism, Liv’s Book Reviews, Lurv a la Mode, MariReads, Medieval Bookworm, My Friend Amy, One Librarian’s Book Reviews, Reader Rabbit, SciFiGuy, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Teen Book Review, Ticket to Anywhere, Unmainstream Mom Reads, Wands and Worlds, The Written World
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Irial watched the girl stroll up the street: she was a bundle of terror and fury.
Cover Thoughts: I really like this one, despite it having the same monochrome generic teen fantasy romance look as so very many other books. At least in this one, the girl isn’t headless. I do wish she were turned a little bit more, so that the tattoo was more visible – it’s my favorite part of the cover, and as it is, the wing draws too much attention away from the eyes of the tattoo itself.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 33: “The glaistigs were dripping dirty river water all over the floor; several beansidhes still keened.” – a kind of beautiful female fairy, usually attired in a green robe or dress that hides goat legs, seldom seen except at the bank of a stream, and engaged in washing.
- p. 69: “If I hadn’t gone to his bruig and seen the mortals there in Irial’s domain…” – the interior of a fairy mound, especially a place where a number of fairies live together.
- p. 102: “The caresses of some faeries, Gancanaghs like him and like Irial once was, were addictive to mortals.” – a male faerie in Irish mythology that is known for seducing human women.
- p. 211 “It felt weird to think it, but somehow she suspected that the fights were tied to her. It seemed solipsistic to consider it, but the idea felt true.” – extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.