Book Review: Ink Exchange

Ink Exchange 
 (Wicked Lovely #2)
By:  Melissa Marr
Published By:  Harper Teen
Publication Date:  April 29, 2008
Page Count:  325
Source:  Purchased by Reviewer
Audience:  Young Adult - Fantasy
Upon my reskimming Ink Exchange in preparation for reading the last book Darkest Mercy, I found I understood the story as a whole better so I changed my 3.5-star to a solid 4-star rating, and amended my review as follows.  It is hard to review this story without spoilers, so I'll do my best to not go into too much detail.

Ink Exchange shifts focus from Ash, Seth, Keenan & Donia and the Summer and Winter Courts to the happenings of the Irial's Dark Court, which worked closely with the Winter Court under Beira's rein (of terror).  The faeries of the dark court thrive on *dark* emotions... that is their sustenance... so while the Winter Court was so powerful, the Dark Court was easily "well fed".  Now that Beira is gone and Keenan and Ash have leveled the balance between Summer and Donia's Winter Court, the resulting peace, although tenuous, is literally starving the Dark Court.

Irial now has to find a way to keep his people "fed" and strong.  He comes up with an idea to use a human conduit to channel mortals' emotions through her to him, and then to his people, through an "ink exchange".  Enter Leslie, one of Aislinn's friends who is contemplating on getting a tattoo.  The ink in that tattoo is mixed with Irial's blood... creating that conduit.

Leslie's character was richly woven.  I developed a lot of empathy for her situation as she was a girl with baggage, who tried to hide it from the world. In this story, Leslie is unknowingly chosen for the "ink exchange" experiment.  Ash has kept the knowledge of faeries from her for her own protection, which turns out to be not such a great decision on Ash's part.  Irial and Niall are both interested in Leslie, each for different reasons initially.

The Irial and Niall were both so complex.  You get tidbits of a lot of history between them.  I think if I had to choose between the two for Leslie... it would have been Niall as his intentions just seemed more sincere towards her, if a future with her were even possible.  But there is something about Irial that is just so enticing.  I wanted to hate him for how he used Leslie but I sort of understood why he did what he did and that he was blind-sided by the repercussions himself.

But in the end... they both loved her.  Her choice at the conclusion of the story seemed right for her... and I was uncharacteristically satisfied with that.

When I first read Ink, I was so confused and lost, to the point of being very frustrated.  Melissa Marr weaves a very intricate web of a story.  There was so much I missed on the first read.  But I will admit that it all made so much more sense to me going through this book again.  For me, it's a book that you have to read without any distractions around... you have to get fully engulfed in the story to appreciate it.

I know that this world is going to get exponentially more and more complicated with each book, and the thing is... if you don't follow the story closely enough, you'll easily get lost along the way.  It had some really unusual and unique twists that really left my brain kind of fried upon the first reading of it... not so much on the second time around. 


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. . . .