Title: Ink Exchange
Author: Melissa Marr
Publication Year: 2008
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: E-book version borrowed from the public library
From the cover:
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. . . .
At first, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about Leslie and Irial narrating parts of this book, but they grew on me rather quickly. In particular, I felt like Marr did a really great job of making the reader feel Leslie’s pain and frustration, and I could really sympathize with her wanting to find a way to empower herself with the tattoo and change her life.
Speaking of tattoos … this was a great idea for a fantasy plot! In a lot of the fantasy books I read, particularly YA, I seems almost like the characters are living in this magical world of the 1950s where technology, body art, and social issues don’t exist in daily life. Instead, in Ink Exchange, issues of pain, suffering, and loss are tied inextricably with what is happening in the world of the fae. Even in the Dark Court, the characters were nuanced, not simply “evil” like in most other fantasy books, but shown as having emotions and caring for others.
Ink Exchange is a great second book in the series, and it sets up a lot of the major characters and conflicts going forward. It’s well worth continuing on from here.