Summary - Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.
Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.
The tattoo does bring changes; not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .
Review - Melissa Marr unsettles the reader from the beginning as rape, neglect, stalking, drug abuse and everything in between step free of the shadows. This is no sweet romance with chaste kisses, Disney faeries and a happy resolution. Ink Exchange is to Wing Lit as Requiem to a Dream is to drama - heavy hitting, dark, confusing and all encompassing.
Ink Exchange could quite easily be transposed into a purely contemporary messy and brutal lust triangle and yet it works with the faerie angle. Melissa Marr's faery courts are like gangs complete with underhanded dealings, murders and hunger and as such this sets her world apart from many other (in my opinion) unsuccessful faery stories. Her world is vivid and whole, full of shadows and three dimensional beings and nefarious motivations. It’s all involving and at times chilling.
That being said, the story and the characters were less engaging than Wicked Lovely as it missed a grounded character as its centre. Leslie is a mess, Niall is a swirling mass of anger and impetuousness and Irial is slick, devious and plain evil. Leslie is so broken, so wounded that it was difficult to connect with her. Niall was my way in, he’s a teddy bear wrapped in barbed wire with a naughty mind. I adored this character; he’s dark, deep and delightfully pained.
It’s a complex book, not one for the faint hearted or the impressionable. There are some serious themes and ideas that are presented but it made me like the book all the more. With all the positive elements I have spouted there are some things that I found problematic. The females. Leslie wasn’t a character that I could connect to very easily; a reader could take issue with many of her decisions as I did. Even worse was Aislinn who came across as a negligent friend. While the use of the tattoo enabled Leslie to be conflicted about where her true feelings lay, it wasn’t a mechanism that completely worked.
All that said I did enjoy the complex issues braved by Marr. Her characters breathed, they melted into the shadows and murkiness of the world. All conflicted, all flawed, all with some goodness. The conclusion of this tale really connected with my personal need for realism and putting your love for someone ahead of your needs.
A refreshingly grim and hopeful read!
Format: Paperback, 324 pages
Published: Harper Collins
Source of Review Copy: Purchased
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