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Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely)

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Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely)

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. . . .

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  1. 54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Didn’t Go Far Enough, August 15, 2008

    Marr seems to fall into the same trap as she did with Wicked Lovely in ths book: she starts off with an amazing premise that starts a reader salivating, but somehow the book never really lives up to it. While I still enjoyed both books, INK EXCHANGE seemed to take Marr’s tendancy to never live up to her premises to a new level. It’s strange, because the book was good, it was an entertaining read, but it never reached my expectations. I’ve been thinking about why, and I’ve finally come up with a few ideas.

    First off, I do love Marr’s image of faerie courts as street gangs. It’s definitely a fun contrast than what we’d expect from other more traditional novels. Yet Marr never seems to bring her magical gangs to life. We never get a full, detailed image of their world and have to glean anything we can from offhand remarks (like the constant half-allusions to the High Court). In fact, though Marr offers beautiful (and kind of purple) physical descriptions of her fey, they’re too often not in a way that the reader can actually picture what they look or sound like (a voice being “as refreshing as a sip of the moon”. Really?). But it’s not just the fey themselves that feel vague; so do their struggles and their very relationships with other courts. Throughout the book, Marr talks about the idea of there being discord between the courts, but barely explains it and never goes beyond the surface. Everything about them just feels so very vague and unfinished. This is exactly how Keenan’s predicament in Wicked Lovely came across. His father was mentioned, something about Keenan’s power being reduced by his mother, but we never got a decent explanation as to why and how and where and when this all happened. A little detail goes a long way. A lot of detail goes longer.

    The histories of her fey, their relatinships etc. aren’t just throw away tidbits of information. Marr could have used the intrigue and complexities of her courts to make the story even better. I mean, she mentions the threat of war brewing in the near future, of warmongers trying to undermine the authority of their own royals, of pacts and emnities between courts. But in the end, it ends up being nothing more than talk. Even the encounters between the top officials of the Summer and Dark Courts never really get beyond gnashing teeth, threatening and magical manifestations of anger.

    Instead of using these conflicts and allowing them to progress further to make the stakes higher and the story bigger and more complex, Marr simply mentions these conflicts in passing and instead focuses on the love triangle between Niall, Leslie and Irial. This is a huge mistake for a number of reasons. First, the love triangle felt forced. We’re only told that Niall loves Leslie with all his heart from the get go, but we never really get a feel for why – except maybe because he’s intrigued by her newly found status as a broken-bird, which she gained after being raped before the story started. His love for Leslie becomes even more confusing upon learning about Leslie herself. As a heroine, she doesn’t feel like she has a fleshed out personality. The rape seems to be the only thing of note in her character. Of course, when one goes through such a terrible experience, that tends to take over much of who they are, but there’ll still be shreds of that old individual left inside, struggling to reclaim dominance, and that’s what makes a fictional character of that sort so compelling. The rape shouldn’t have stopped Leslie from feeling like a real, three-dimensional character, but it did. If I can’t feel anything for Leslie, how can I understand another character feeling for her so deeply and so romantically? In my opinion, love in fiction is only successful if it feels organic and natural. Leslie and Niall may have been sexy together, but organic and natural, they were not.

    But on top of that, Niall’s love for Leslie didn’t really add anything to the story. As a character himself, he was quite compelling, but all that didn’t matter to Leslie’s tale or the plot in the long run. By the time it was Irial’s time to have his turn, Niall was all but useless. Even the heroic act he performed for Leslie by the end of the book could easily have been performed by Aislinn and Donia, which actually would have been a massively better choice; it would have allowed Aislinn to TRULY live up to her title as Leslie’s friend and almost make up for her lack of action throughout the book. Plus, it would have shown Donia who was sorely missed in this sequel. Niall’s journey felt so detached that I can only assume the only purpose for showing his journey was to set up the epilogue, which I’m assuming Marr aims to explore in later books. Symbolically and plotwise, Leslie and Irial’s twisted relationship was far more important. Marr should have spent more time developing and making the most of the heroine’s ties to the Dark King.

    Marr’s mishandling of…

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  2. 54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    no happily ever after here, May 5, 2008
    Erin Satie

    I’m not ready to pass judgment on INK EXCHANGE. When I turned the last page and closed the book, I thought: this story is not over. Melissa Marr’s first book set in the world of faerie, WICKED LOVELY, was self contained – and I’m not sure what, or who, the next book is supposed to be about. If INK EXCHANGE is supposed to be Leslie’s whole story, I have to say I’m disappointed. But if it’s the beginning of a series, I’m delighted.

    INK EXCHANGE starts off with Leslie, the protagonist, getting ready to leave for high school while her brother smokes crack at the kitchen table. It’s an early warning to the reader: this is an unrelentingly dark book. Leslie is living in a nightmare version of the human world, and it isn’t long before she is unwittingly caught up in a nightmare version of the faerie world: the Dark Court. These solitary fey nourish themselves on pain, hatred, greed, lust, and just about any other ugly urge that man or faerie is capable of. They starve without this nourishment, and peaceful times are lean indeed.

    Marr has set herself the difficult task of rendering these Dark faeries sympathetic to the reader. They are emotional parasites, and they literally thrive on suffering. Their King, Irial, shows us that at least some of these repulsive creatures are capable of great virtue: Irial is a devoted caretaker of his people, capable of true friendship, self-sacrifice, and sensitivity. It is moving when he exhibits these qualities, and then doubly repulsive when he sets them aside. Frequently, Marr follows the Dark faeries as they prepare for their hideous feasts – and then fades to black. But we can imagine how they must proceed, by watching how Irial treats Leslie – a girl he loves, and swears to protect. He treats her very, very badly.

    I think Marr is a very talented writer indeed. Her worlds, both human and faerie, are gritty, alive, and feel very real. Her teenage protagonists are good kids who grow up too fast, and are wise beyond their years. This faerieland is no saccharine paradise for Tinkerbells and pretty princesses – profoundly alien, both gorgeous and hideous.

    INK EXCHANGE was hard to put down, very compelling, but I wonder what will happen next.


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  3. 27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Courtesy of Teens Read Too, April 29, 2008
    TeensReadToo “Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier.” (All Over the US & Canada) –

    Torn up inside after her drug-dealer brother betrays her in the most horrible way, Leslie puts on a brave front with her friends, pretending her drunken dad isn’t letting the bills pile up and hiding all her pain. Hoping to take back control over her body, she decides to get a tattoo, and picks out a special design at the tattoo parlor she often hangs out at. Unbeknownst to Leslie, that tattoo is the symbol of Irial, the king of the faerie Dark Court, designed to allow him to filter the unpleasant emotions that feed his court through her into him and his people.

    As Leslie finds her vision changing and her feelings shifting in unpredictable ways, Niall, a faerie of the Summer Court who has always admired her, steps in, hoping to help her and keep Irial away. He has his own tangled feelings about Irial, whom he once counted as a friend. But as Leslie sinks further under Irial’s thrall, enjoying the escape from the hurt and fear she’d been living with, only she can decide when to pull away–or whether she would rather stay with him, after all.

    INK EXCHANGE is a darkly imaginative novel set in the same world as Marr’s first novel, WICKED LOVELY. Readers will enjoy exploring the lives of some of that novel’s minor characters and seeing more of the shadowy side of the faerie courts. They may find Leslie, Niall, and Irial less engaging than the spirited and perhaps more sympathetic narrators of WICKED LOVELY, but the trio still make for a fascinating “love” triangle as each deals with conflicting emotions and tries to decide what is right both for him or herself and for those who are counting on them.

    The imagery is striking and evocative, and the politics of the different faerie courts is intriguing to explore. A great book for dark fantasy fans.

    Reviewed by: Lynn Crow


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