Friday, July 1, 2011

Ink Exchange

Ink Exchange

Written by: Melissa Marr

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Language: English
April 2008, $16.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Fiction

Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Court 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. . . .


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I am mildly obsessed with all things fae whether it is in my literature, my mythology, or even my gaming sometimes. This I blame on my mother and nana for filling my young head with fairy tales of the Tuatha de Danann, fairy lore and possibly me wanting a pair of wings and to be a changeling. The sidhe were so magical and mysterious and just because you were of the Shining court didn't mean that everything was full of puppies and rainbows. Faeries bewitched humans and played mischievous. They were the old ones and not all of them were Tinkerbell. Some of my favorite books of the last few years have dealt (At least in some part) with the fae: Holly Black’s trilogy with Tithe, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, Wicked Lovely also by Miss Marr, Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs and even, yes even, Laurell K Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series.

I love seeing the fey in my movies as well from Tinkerbell to the Fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth. When I see a ring of toadstools there is a part of me that wants to step inside and La Bell Dame Sans Merci is still one of my fave poems.

So why this obsession/addiction? Maybe it us those fairy tales my mother told me, the immortality and the otherworldly. Maybe its the courtly intrigue, how they bewitch mortals or perhaps the two halves of one thing whether it be shining or dark court, summer or winter. And who doesn’t love tales of the Wild Hunt? Regardless I love them. Which actually makes me wonder why it took me so long to pick up Ink Exchange especially after I was smitten with Wicked Lovely.

Ink Exchange focuses on Leslie, Aislin’s friend. She knows nothing about Ash’s new life, of faerie courts and coming war. She knows that she wants to escape from her own life and that she wants a tattoo, a symbol, a crest to strengthen her own life. She does find one, but it brings about more changes than she could ever want or expect when Irial, King of the Dark Court, claims her as his own.

Things I loved: Melissa Marr continues to delight. While Ash, Keenan, Seth and the others are not the primary characters they are there as the series narrative continues. I didn’t think it was as strong as Wicked Lovely, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I hated it.

Leslie’s life pretty much sucks. Her brother bartered her body for drugs, her dad cannot even be called her father and her mother isn’t a factor. I love that Ash wants to get a tattoo to scream, to the world that this is my body as broken as it may be and that all I need is me. And sometimes you just need a reminder that you are not a victim, but a survivor.

I really want to like Leslie because I can relate to so many parts of her. leslie is the first character we have met so far that is utterly clueless. Through Irial, not only does Leslie find a numbness to all of her fear and sadness and regret, but every emotion. I can understand the allure of something like that, an escape from the reality that is life. Sometimes you just want to quiet your head and heart and feel normal again especially after tragedy even if it was no fault of your own. But Leslie’s story is also one of addiction.

Marr tackled some serious issues and I applaud her for that....

Things I didn't love so much: But I dont applaud her for Irial. Irial is not a good man nor a good king no matter how she tries to make him heroic. Yes, he needed to save a court, his people, but he took a vulnerable girl and used her. Even after he found out that she had been raped, he still used her body and for that he can rot away in an iron prison for all I care. Nope, mercy is not my name. Leslie was so high on the drug that was Irial, unable to say no even if she wanted to. Leslie was an addict and Irial...

For Irial and the rest of the fey, humans mean nothing. They are beings that pretty much bred them out of the world and into the shadows cause lets face it, we’re kind of like bunnies in the human being shaped variety of beings. We are pawns to them. Means to end. And your death really doesn’t mean all that much. Nor does your pain, your anguish, etc. You can try to have Irial have feelings for Leslie, but it doesn’t stop him from using her body and soul. How do you think she felt after she got away, when she remembers all of it. How can you be in love with someone when you never had free will.

And Leslie bugs me as well as much as I wanted to like her. She remains the victim the entire story and the only reason she escapes all of it is because other people make that choice for her. Because of that I will never love this book especially when I think I know the book Marr was trying to write. This seems so opposite of the story I think she was trying to say.

I get that Irial and Niall are the forbidden fruits. Really I do. Things that are dangerous and will probably kill you are the things you crave. Its why you desire them all the more. Leslie was never given a choice though. Do you think that if she had known the surgeon general’s warnings and everything that was going to happen that she would have gone through the Ink Exchange?

And once again, just as in Wicked Lovely, our main female has to make a choice between two really hot guys. I’ve learned to deal with the hundreds and thousand year old beings falling in love with teenage girls. Can anyone say Buffy and Angel. But seriously what I wouldn’t give to have two really hot men both lusting after me and me them. Dear Universe, please make it so. If both Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion are available that would be super. Or if not David tennant and Hugh Jackman (oh wait he’s married...ummm....James McAvoy? Jared Leto? Matt Bomer?...well that last one really wont work but a girl can daydream) I know these books are fantasy, but home come the hot immortal people never want the cute adorable girly geek blogger in her early 30’s? I could so rock some worlds.

The world isn’t as full bodied as I would like, but this seems like a very planned series. I want to know so much more. Why did the Courts split? Tell me more of the High Court? Does Seth have an older brother who might like girly geeks? *grin* I dont want to say that I forgive the story for being vague, for skimming all of the courtly intrigue and power struggles. It is young adult after all. Instead it is all about the love triangle and I expect that the next two will follow suit if the back blurbs can be believed.

Why does Niall love Leslie now that I am stuck back on that topic? Is it because she is broken and frail, everything that is symbolically human. We are mortal? We are fragile and so blind to the other things that live and lurk in our world. Leslie is clueless, but then again so is most of the world. Leslie, I guess in a way, was Niall’s drug and he would do anything including disobeying his King to get her. Irial was Leslie’s drug and well Irial has a thing for both Leslie and Niall.

Also lets face it that Ash kind of sucks as a friend. I can understand that Ash wanted to protect Leslie, to give her a normal life, a life that she herself can never have again. But Ash isnt as clueless as Leslie. She knows who Irial is. She knows the way of the Courts, at least to some extent. And she probably would recognize the tattoo. She should have fought to get Leslie free, but she didn’t. So she better start redeeming herself. She is as much to blame as the other Fey.

Buy or Borrow: Buy if you are completist such as myself, but be wary that this is not a book for the tweeners. Gang rape, drugs, sex, self mutilation, etc is kind of rampant in the book though never really described just heavily implied.

Part of:Wicked Lovely series

Book One: Wicked Lovely

Book Two: Ink Exchange

Book Three: Fragile Eternity

Book Four: Radiant Shadows

Book Five: Darkest Mercy

Also Recommended: For more faeries I would recommend War of the Oaks by Emma Bull, the Summer Country by James Hetley, the Modern Faerie Tale series by Holly Black, The good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar, The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint, and the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K Hamilton. I could go on, but this review is long enough already. I should make a list of Fey books.

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

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