Review: Ink Exchange

Series: Wicked Lovely: #2

Getting ink felt right, like it would help her put her life in order, to move forwards. It was her body, despite the things that’d been done to it, and she wanted to claim it, to own it, to prove that to herself. She knew it wasn’t magic, but the idea of writing her own identity felt like the closest she could get to reclaiming her life. Sometimes there’s power in the act; sometimes there’s strength in words. She wanted to find an image that represented those things she was feeling, to etch it on her skin as tangible proof of her decision to change.

Well that’s not what I expected.

It’s definitely a sequel to Wicked Lovely. In that it’s in the same world with many of the same characters and takes place after the events of the first book.

It’s … fine? It’s interesting, if a bit jarring, to see more of the world and a broader cast of characters. But the plot is ugly, it’s hard to root for anyone really, and I missed the continuity you get from sticking with a united point of view.

Side note: trigger warning for rape. Off screen, but it’s a major plot point of the book.

I’ll probably try one more in the series, since it’s supposed to go back to Ash. We’ll see.

In a bit more detail (minor spoilers from this point out), rather than Aislinn and Sean and Kegan, we have Leslie (Asilinn’s friend). Who’s been left completely clueless about the Fae world. I get that. But it certainly doesn’t make her life any easier.

On top of that, she was (as mentioned) raped before the book starts. The entire ’tattoo’ thing is an attempt to bring back a sense of control to her life. Power to her. But it’s such a dark bit of backstory–and a relatively ‘cheap’ method of writing. It’s the sort of thing you can drop in with a few sentences to get an entire lifetime’s worth of trauma without actually digging into it any more.

Instead of drama around the Summer and Winter Fae, we have a whole new (previously unmentioned) Dark Court with a thing for feeding off ’negative’ emotions like fear and pain. We get a few Fae from that end of the Fae world and they’re almost universally terrible. Niall at least is trying so hard to do the right thing (these characters do not fill hundreds of years old), but Irial is just terrible. There’s a lesson about consent there and … he gets it all wrong. And there’s not nearly enough cost for that to him.

Side note: the names of the Dark Fae are weird. They all ‘sound’ (I listened to the audiobook) like -iel names, which are traditionally I’ve found come from ‘of God’ and are the names of Angels. It turns out, they’re actually spelled -ial, so it’s a bit less weird, but I’ll certainly admit–it’s weird.

Finally, there’s a neat bit of tattoo magic. Which is cool. But the book is really into tattoos. It feels almost like Marr wanted to write about how it feels to get a tattoo / how it changes your life… and wrote an entire book around it.

Like I said. I’m not a fan of second books changing so dramatically, so I’ll give the third a try. If I knew it was going to stick with Leslie or change to someone else entirely, I doubt I would continue with this series.

I did survive. I still am. And it won’t happen again.