Ink Exchange

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr.

The sequel to the amazing Wicked Lovely tells the story of one of Aislinn’s human friends who doesn’t know anything about the faeries living around them or that Aislinn is now Queen of the Summer Court.  Leslie is a girl whose life has turned upside down, her mother left, her father turned inward, her brother deals drugs, and she was sold as a sexual favor to cover his debts.  She is damaged but not broken as she turns to a tattoo to restart her life, declaring her body her own again.  But it is not that simple, because Rabbit, her tattoo artist has ties to the Dark Court and Leslie finds herself slowly drawn into their fight for survival through the very tattoo she thought would mark a new beginning of freedom.

The world building here is exquisitely done.  Marr takes the world she built in Wicked Lovely and makes it deeper, darker and more intense.  Her writing is skillful, drawing you into the same web Leslie is trapped in.  By the end there is such a sense of claustrophobia and control that it is almost hard to breathe, but equally hard to put down.  Masterfully done.

I enjoyed Leslie as a heroine throughout the novel.  She is tough but still somehow vulnerable, wise but naive, and these qualities make her all the more intriguing and human.  Equally well portrayed are the two faeries Niall and Irial who struggle to not fall for Leslie but fail.  The Dark Court could have been chillingly callous and cruel, but Marr has managed to make them multi-dimensional and even allows readers to have some understanding of their motives and emotions.  It is a delicate balance that Marr achieves and that lies at the heart of the success of this novel.

Highly recommended for readers of the first novel, this book will fly off the shelves and into the hands of teens everywhere.