Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

GoodReads Description: 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. . . .

My Thoughts: Most definitely one of my surprise favorite 2010 reads so far.

I will admit that I was reluctant to read this one. I am a huge fan of Wicked Lovely and will not lie when I say that I put effort into holding off on Ink Exchange. I walked past my bookshelf everyday, made eye-to-spine contact, grunted and scurried away. The idea of alternate characters did not sit well with me, especially since I assumed Leslie was boring and one-dimensional in Wicked Lovely (which I realized I haven't reviewed. I definitely need to re-read, as it's been well over a year since the first time I read the first book in the series.)

I. Was. So. Wrong.

Girl's got some serious issues in her life. I sympathized with and rooted for the poor girl because she was no damsel-in-distress. She had a backbone, but she was also so damaged, which is realistic. I'm glad that Melissa Marr did not paint a world of problems only to have Leslie act totally functional throughout the book. Lots of the reviews I've read stated that getting a tattoo is not a way of coping with a difficulties in life, but I can see how it'd be liberating, in a sense. Of course getting a tattoo does not solve life's problems, but in some twisted way, it makes sense to a 17-year-old attempting to grasp at any "sense of self" that she can. I can't explain why, but I recall being that rebellious teenager.

Then there's Niall and Irial, a Gancanagh (I had no frickin' idea what this meant throughout the story, but Marr alluded to the meaning later on) and the Dark King, respectively. These two and their extensive, disturbing history made this story for me. They are so three-dimensional, well-written, and are both sympathetic characters. Irial is supposed to be this sadistic, unrelenting a-hole of a Dark ruler, and appears to live up to that reputation at first. But the developing love story is so heartfelt and bittersweet. And SURPRISING. There is a love triangle, true to its title. You can feel the love from every angle, to every other angle, if that makes sense. It doesn't. I'm sorry.

At any rate, my favorite character was Irial, hands down. He's my #2 literary love of all time and Marr could write a 10,000 page journal-format book of Irial's daily activities and I'd pay unforgivable amounts of money to read it. There's just something about the evil-doer-unveiling-a-hidden-vulnerable-side that makes me cheer for them. And Irial *swoon* was such an intriguing character. I love, love, love, love Irial.

The ending was a disappointment, but it wasn't. We all want to see happy endings after a long, difficult journey of beloved book characters. There isn't quite a happy ending here. But it's an empowering conclusion to Leslie's story. I cried because it wasn't what I wanted, but it was what Leslie needed. I still need to come to terms with that. Luckily, there's a continuation of her story called "Stopping Time," which I'll review sometime later on, and OMG. All fans of Irial/Leslie/Niall MUST read it immediately.

Seriously, this book stayed with me long, long, long after I finished it. It's been MONTHS and I still think about it frequently.


Rating: 5/5

Series: This is book 2 in the 5 book series, Wicked Lovely. The highly-anticipated conclusion, Darkest Mercy, will be released on February 22, 2011.
Source: I purchased this book.
Published: Harper Teen, 325 pages(May 1, 2008)

Learn more about Melissa: Website | Blog | Twitter | GoodReads


  1. I absolutely love Irial, too. :]

    Nice review!

  2. I have given you an award: Congratulations!

  3. Great review Jen. I more of Seth girl but I can see why you have a crush on Irial. I can't wait for Darkest Mercy and will have to check out "Stopping Time". Have you seen the manga for this series?