Mini Reviews } The Tainted | The Exiled | Dominion of Ash Series by. Frost Kay

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: The Tainted (Dominion of Ash, Book 1)

Author: Frost Kay

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages:292

Categories: Dystopian, Urban Fantasy, YA

I never should’ve taken the dare.

In a destroyed world plagued with pestilence, assassins, thieves, and the Tainted–mutated fae-like humans with a penchant for abduction–nothing is easy. It’s brutal, deadly, and most often, short. 

My father has three rules to survive the apocalypse; keep your head down, work hard, and never leave the safety of Harbor. Following his rules isn’t as easy as it seems–especially when tricked into breaking them. 

Blackmailed into attending at party outside of the walls didn’t seem so bad–until all hell broke loose and I was left in the clutches of a dragon lord. I thought I knew who my enemies were: starvation, infection, and the Tainted.  

I was wrong. That’s why I never saw it coming.

The death. The lies. The complete betrayal.

No one said love wouldn’t destroy you.

The Dominion of Ash series takes on a dystopian, urban fantasy theme. Earth has been ravaged bay a virus that has mutated the DNA of humans. Hazel lives in a compound where no one has been “tainted” by the virus but outside of a world is a one where many Tainted consider their mutation a gift. So there is a VERY clear divide between the two human species. We follow Hazel who is thrown, literally, into the world of the tainted and it’s frightening. She fights for her survival as she Noah who is the leader of the tainted compound she is being held at.

I like the world building and the idea of virus mutating our DNA, I mean anything is possible! She comes across animals who are trained as well. There is a lot of action as Hazel is trying to survive the desert and trying to get back home. Hazel is a sheltered girl who gets a big wake up call when she is left to die.

A lone girl in a dangerous world shows how women are prey for predators and she comes across a few from both the Untouched she lives with and the Tainted as well. The books in this series are short, so it is a very quick read, and I found Hazel’s journey from sheltered girl to meeting a whole community of Tainted interesting because she has to self-analyze her prejudices and yet survive.

There are a bunch of triggers in this book: sexual assault and violence being the main ones.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: The Exiled (Dominion of Ash, Book #2)

Author: Frost Kay

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 217

Categories: Urban Fantasy, Dystopia, YA/NA

She got caught. Again. 

After a disastrous second escape attempt, Hazel finds herself blood indebted to her savior – Noah – but he’s no saint. 

Desperate to repay her debt, she begrudgingly offers her skills as payment if she’s allowed to visit home one last time. Her wish is granted but at a steep cost. What is supposed to be a saving grace turns out to be a nightmare.

The monsters are right. Ignorance means death and blood ties are worthless.

Be careful what you wish for.

Okay so I read these two books in one night because like I said, they are SO short…this one being only 217 pages!

Hazel is with the Tainted and she is basically wanting to die than live with them. I’ll say one thing about her – she’s a fighter. Frustratingly so…to the point of harming herself. Hazel learns more about the tainted that have gone out of their way to keep her alive but her main goal is to escape and go back home to her family. She fights, she schemes, she get’s under Noah’s skin and finally – finally we get to see more of the attraction between them, because we know it’s gonna be good between them, right?

My favorite part of this series so far is watching Hazel have more women figures in her life, like Noah’s abuela (grandmother), she is awesome. Hazel hasn’t had a mother and was raised by men so this girl really needs a female figure in her life. When Hazel finally gets her wish and leaves the compound she finds out more hard lessons back out in the wilderness and about a new threat and new war about to start between the Untouched and Tainted. Who’s side will she be on? This one ended in a major cliffhanger and I can’t believe I have to wait to see what happens. 😫

More triggers in this one: assault, violence, self harm

Book Review | The Hunt (The Twisted Kingdoms, Book #1)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Hunt (Twisted Kingdoms, #1)

Author: Frost Kay

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 326

Categories: Fantasy, Romance

Death marked her from her very first breath.

Being sired by a Madrid is supposed to be a blessing, but for Tempest, it’s a curse that leaves her orphaned, penniless, and enslaved to a blood thirsty crown on the brink of war.

Found too unruly to become a ward of the court, she’s thrust into the care of the King’s Hounds – the assassins and warriors responsible for protecting the kingdom. Driven by rage and an oath to avenge her mother’s memory, Tempest throws herself into training.

But becoming the first ever female assassin isn’t enough. Now, she must obtain the heart of her kingdom’s most feared enemy – the jester – a deadly shapeshifter hidden in a land twisted by myth and darkness.

Revenge is never easy or cheap. Tempest is willing to sacrifice everything to see justice served. Even her own soul and freedom.

I don’t recall the story of the Fox and the Hound – I’m sure I read it a long time ago, but despite that, I thought the premise for this book sounded pretty interesting.

Tempest is an orphan, raised by the King of Dotae’s ruthless guards, the King’s Hounds. When she becomes of age, she takes part in the trials to become the first ever female Hound. Tempest also is trying to thwart the King’s advances so she makes a deal with him. If she finds the infamous shapeshifter and leader of the rebels, the Jester, and brings his heart to the king – Tempest gets a seat on the War Council. But if she doesn’t succeed, she will belong to the king. Will Tempest complete her mission or will she be entrapped by the king forever?

  • I like stories about female assassins and Tempest is definitely a worthy adversary. We don’t see her much being a Hound in the story but on her mission to find the Jester, she shows the skills she’s known for back in Dotae. As a character I found her at times naive but willing to look at the evidence if things feel wrong, so I think there will be a lot of growth in the sequel with her, at least I hope there is.
  • Gotta love a sexy, flirty shapeshifter and we definitely have that with Pyre. He is a kitsune or fox shapeshifter. I like seeing how he cares for his people and yet knowing he is dangerous under the wily smile. I’m loving the attraction that is growing between him and Tempest. It’s a slow burn too, which is nice!
  • I enjoyed the world building in The Hunt. This book focused mostly on the kingdom of Dotae and the Talagans (shapeshifter community). But in the beginning of the book it explains in the prologue how this world came to be, a world filled with dragons, fae, shapeshifter, humans, etc…until the peace between them broke.
  • I did like Tempest’s bond with the men she grew up with, her uncles, the Hounds…of course she comes to question what they stand for later on but I think it will be interesting to see how Tempest deals with the information she has about the men she loves.
  • I think King Destin is a bit cringey especially how he preys on Tempest who is only eighteen years old. He is in his 40’s! 🙄 He is definitely the villain in this story.
  • And though I do like Pyre, why is Tempest getting caged in by these men?! 😕 I guess it’s trying to show how powerless she is as a woman in this world where the men are the leaders but I hope to goodness somewhere in the sequel or down the line in the series she gets her power back and kick some major ass, especially King Destin’s. By the way, these two men are not the only ones interested in her…🤷🏻‍♀️ but I hope that storyline doesn’t go anywhere. I don’t want a love triangle in this one, please!
  • Triggers: fighting, death, physical wounds

I really enjoyed Pyre and Tempest’s interactions with each other in this first book. It looks to be a long series according to the information on Amazon, so there is a lot more story to unravel here and I hope a juicy romance between the two eventually. I think the position Tempest is put in made me weary about the story a bit but I have hope she will overcome these traps these men put her in! 💁🏻‍♀️ I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

ARC Review | We Are Blood and Thunder

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: We Are Blood and Thunder

Author: Kesia Lupo

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 448

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

On the edges of a sealed-off city, a chance encounter between two girls in the misty woods is about to change the course of everything. . .

Lena is on the run from her home, the Duke’s Forest, after being convicted as a mage and sentenced to death. Meanwhile, Constance escaped the Forest years before, after her own magical powers were discovered–but now, she will do anything to get back inside and reclaim her place as the duke’s daughter. The girls cross paths for only a moment, but that’s long enough to set them down paths that will change the dukedom forever.

As Lena reaches a safe haven where she can study and develop her powers alongside handsome but mysterious mage Emris, Constance maneuvers her way back into the home she left behind, unsure whether she trust the people she once considered her family and friends. All the while, the girls are connected by the dark, terrifying storm clouds that hang over the land and devastate everything in their wakes. 

Only Lena and Constance hold the keys to dispelling the storm and keeping their home safe–if they can uncover who cast the spell that generated the clouds to begin with. But the truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine, and it could mean that one of the girls will lose everything.

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

We are Blood and Thunder follows two main female characters, Lena, who has a mark on her face, no family and was raised as a cryptling in Duke’s Forest. She was assistant to the city mortician. Then there is Constance, a mage who comes back home to Duke’s Forest to help get rid of the toxic storm cloud that has been circling above Duke’s Forest for years.

Nothing is what it seems with either women. We follow their journeys and find out if the storm cloud can be defeated at all.

  • The world building is fascinating with different mage factions. We only get a glimpse of a few of them but I think there is so much potential to learn more about this fantasy world. The people in Duke’s Forest don’t use magic, they worship their Ancestors – the dead that are buried below their city in crypts. Their way of life is to serve them. Outside of Duke’s Forest is where magic thrives.
  • Lena interested me more than Constance. Lena is an orphan raised as a cryptling, assisting the city’s mortician. She is without family, raised basically with dead bodies but then things start happening to her, she has power. More power than she ever had in her life.
  • Emris, a huntsman mage, is Lena’s introduction into life outside of Duke’s Forest. He teaches her about her magic and power. Theirs is a friendship that grows and I was glad Lena had someone.
  • This story was gory and dark at times! There was dark magic, necromancy and dead bodies coming to life. I thought that was fun, haha, morbid yes but I liked that it went there.
  • I needed MORE from this story – I felt like there was so much potential with the world building and I didn’t get enough. Also I felt like the characters, or maybe mostly Constance, was superficial. Even her supposed romance with Xander was so quick and strange, I was like…??…am I supposed to feel something about these two? Because I feel…nothing.
  • I didn’t vibe with Constance but by the end, my feeling about her was right. So maybe there was a reason why something about felt off! There were some parts of this book that felt a bit melodramatic and it was mostly to do with Constance. 🤨
  • The story did drag a bit, especially with this problem of this toxic storm cloud hovering over Duke’s Forest. Like…what is it? Why is it there? Why Duke’s Forest? It ties in all at the end, but it took awhile to get there – to the point I didn’t know why Constance’s story mattered. It matters…but in the beginning I wanted to skip her parts to read about Lena.
  • The twist at the end was surprising but, Constance again, to me…ruined it. I just did not like her!
  • Triggers: death, being around dead bodies

I enjoyed the world building, Lena and the necromancy in this book but I really needed more. Overall, this book fell short for me in so many areas, but it did keep my interest enough to want to know what was the whole deal with the toxic storm cloud! It was just an okay read for me.

ARC Review | The Raven and The Dove

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Raven and The Dove

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: Unknown for digital copy \ 506 for hardcover (according to Amazon.com)

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Magic

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong… 

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart… 

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

Thank you to Kaitlyn Davis and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Princess Lyana loves her home, the crystal city of Sepharia, where the House of Peace resides. Her people are doves and she is vivacious, beautiful, mischievous and knows how to get her way. She is undeniably magnetic to everyone around her. The courtship trials is about to take place and she will be wed to prince from another House. She’s prepared for this all her life despite that deep longing inside her to explore the world beyond her home.

Rafe is a raven and the bastard brother to Prince Lysander (Xander) of the House of Whispers. Rafe is standing in for his brother to win the hand of a princess for their house, but something happens and the plan backfires on Rafe and Xander in the most unexpected way.

But besides this courtship drama something bigger is happening to the land below the Sea of Mists. There is a prophecy and a King who needs Lyana for his Queen to save the world.

  • The world building is creative and unique. Here we an aviary kind of people, humans with bird wings living above the clouds on floating islands. There are seven houses, who’s mythology is based on seven Gods giving them their unique wings and Godstones. It’s an intricate world and in this first book we learn more about their world instead of the one below on land. I was engrossed with learning about each house. In this world above the clouds, magic is forbidden, if you have it, you are punished. And then there is the issue about the dragons which is very mysterious, but I think we learn more about them in book two. For now, dragons are these creatures wreaking havoc but we don’t know why.
  • There are secrets and betrayals in this book and some were frustrating yet kept me hooked to the story. The secrets with the romance story arc were pretty predictable and I was fine with that but the betrayal…oh the betrayal at the end got me like…😱, oh my heart. I was squeamish, shocked, and trying to understand why this was happening.
  • Lyana and Rafe are electric together and seem meant to be….BUT…there are two other people in Lyana’s life that will have an impact on their relationship. This is the first book and it seems like a love triangle is happening…but I can’t say it is for certain. We shall see what happens in the next book.
  • I care about the characters! Lyana comes off as a princess who knows how to get her way, but when she does get her way and it doesn’t turn out as she had hoped, she bounces back. Rafe is someone I feel for – the feeling of not belonging anywhere, not being allowed to want things or have the things he wants. 💔 What was done to him…gah, I can’t even think of it. Xander (Lysander) and his feelings of inadequacy because of his deformity. He’s a good guy, and he loves his brother but holds resentment too. And Cassi…..ohhhhhhhh Cassi.
  • Cassi gets her own bullet point because although Lyana is a big part of the story, Cassi’s role as Lyana’s best friend seems innocent at first but we learn Cassi is not who she says she is. Another secret, another betrayal but maybe the biggest of them all so far. I was lulled into thinking this was a princess choosing a mate story, but no…it got dark. It took a twist I wasn’t expecting at all.
  • There are four perspectives we get in this book and each of them were done very well. I felt all their angst, hopes, dreams and fears. I get a good feel for these four characters through their story telling.
  • The courtship of Lyana is what this book is mostly about, including the forbidden love with Rafe. But we are fed morsels about a prophecy and someone who will save the world, but save it from what? We meet a vague, mysterious character Malek and I can’t tell if he is good or bad yet. He is a king apparently, on land or at this moment, on the ocean. So much more to learn about him and this world on land.
  • The dragons are also vague in this story but they seem like the enemy. They wreak havoc on land and have been seen above the Sea of Mists, so we don’t know much about them.
  • Because we are mostly immersed in the aviary world in the sky, we don’t get a real sense of the magic use on land. It is elemental magic but the history and use of it is something I hope the next book will expand on.
  • Once again, because this is loosely based on Tristan & Isolde, there is forbidden love and I hope to goodness it ends well. Can it end well? After that ending, I don’t know. 😰
  • Triggers: violence

I did not expect to read this book in one sitting, but I did. I was engrossed in this unique world of bird people who knew nothing of the land below. This first book is mostly a set up for the rest of the series so if the plot seems thin I think it’s because there is much more to be revealed and a land world to build on. If you like forbidden love, courtship trials, dragons, magic, secrets and betrayal, you may want to check this title out. I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next one!

ARC Review | Heart of Flames

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers, #2)

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 640

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens. 

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire. 

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin. 

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames. 

Thank you to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Crown of Feathers, but for some reason, I could not get into this second book, Heart of Flames. Maybe it’s a mood read kind of thing, maybe I’ll reread in the future and enjoy it more.

Things pick up where it leaves off in book one. Val’s identity is revealed and the tension between the empire and the Phoenix Riders have grown. There is a spy, Sev, who is taking a very big risk. Tristan and Veronyka’s relationship grow further and my favorite characters, the phoenixes are back! This sequel is more in depth but for some reason failed to hold my attention.

  • I love the covers so far in this series, all that fire and flames. It’s gorgeous!
  • The phoenixes of course! They are my favorite part of the story because they are awesome beings who can communicate. Reading this series makes me want to be a phoenix rider too!
  • The world building is so detailed and vivid, the author does a good job at making it all come to life.
  • Veronyka and Tristan’s relationship is growing but it has it’s frustrating moments. The romance doesn’t overtake the story which is nice because they have a bigger mission at hand but it was nice to get more acknowledgement between them about their feelings. Also the other relationship that I enjoy a lot is Sev and Kade. Sev is taking a big risk being a spy and the two of them have gone through some tough events together. Love that they are together again in this book.
  • I was just bored reading this story. 😕 I was slugging through the beginning and started not to care about Veronyka and Val’s history. And for me this felt like too long a read, especially when my interest started to wane. I read the first book in one sitting, but this installment I picked up and put down so many times. 😞
  • There are many characters in this book and they are all pretty fleshed out which is great, but because it jumped from one perspective to the other, I lost interest. Usually, I enjoy different perspectives but for some reason this one didn’t cut it for me.

I skimmed a lot of the ending of this book unfortunately because I just wanted to finish but my interest was gone by the halfway mark. I might pick this up later again when I’m in the mood to read about phoenixes because that is my favorite part about this series, the magical creatures and their bond with their riders! But I know a lot of people will enjoy this sequel but for me, it fell flat.

ARC Review | Belle Révolte

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Belle Révolte

Author: Linsey Miller

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Belle Revolte is set in a French inspired world where magic use is known as the noonday arts and the midnight arts. Emilie a noble girl wants to be a physician but only men can aspire to that profession. So Emilie swaps lives with Annette a commoner who wants to elevate her station by studying the midnight arts. Emilie sneaks away to learn noon day arts and train as a physician as a rebellion is growing in their kingdom. The rebellion is lead by someone named Laurel. They find out that everyone who is in the rebellion is called Laurel and they are ready to change things for their kingdom.

Which side will Emilie and Annette take in this rebellion and will they see their dreams become reality?

  • The magic system in this book was interesting, to a point. We have the noonday arts which is used by soldiers and physician. The magic is used for fighting and healing. Midnight arts is used for divination and scrying among other things. The midnight arts is in some form usually present in other fantasy books with a magic system but the noonday arts was somewhat different. I thought the medical training Emilie undertakes was more fascinating than the usual midnight arts. I can see why she says the noonday arts changes lives – especially in that sense.
  • There is trans and ace (asexual) representation in this book and honestly, I think this is the first young adult fantasy I’ve read with asexual representation! There is some romance in the book, but this story is not romance driven.
  • Strong female characters are featured in this book which is always great. We have Annette and Emilie trying to make their dreams a reality. Emilie especially in her male dominated field but Annette takes a big risk as well posing as a noblewoman.
  • The beginning of the book kept me interested but by the middle I felt my attention waning. The magic system didn’t keep me interested, they either had magic for healing or fighting and magic for divination and scrying. We see how Annette and Emilie use it to help in time of war but other than that…I’m not sure there was anything else special about it.
  • I’m all for the life swapping trope, it’s a chance to have someone on the other side experience a different role and life, some good, some bad. But I felt no connection to the characters. It was a life swap but not a name swap – I think it threw me off a little. Annette was posing as Emilie and being called Emilie. But Emilie was still Emilie, but with Annette’s last name! So…they were both Emilie. 😟
  • Triggers: War, death

The story of two girls trying to change their fate and a kingdom on the verge of revolution is inspiring. Unfortunately I failed to connect to the characters and I lost interest midway into the book. Despite my experience, I think others will enjoy this story very much.

ARC Review | Ink in the Blood

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Ink in the Blood

Author: Kim Smejkal

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 448

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.

Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison.

Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further.

To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself.

Thank you to HMH Books For Young Readers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Ink in the Blood caught my eye on NetGalley because of the cover and the concept of magic tattoos. What I got as I started reading was a story about religion and a theater troupe! Celia and Anya are “inklings” – unfortunately every time I read the word “inkling” it reminded me of the video game Splatoon 2. 😂🤦🏻‍♀️ Maybe that’s why my reading experience of this book felt strange. Anyway, inklings have the gift of creating tattoos for people through their religion Profeta. But Celia and Anya, realize as they grow older they are trapped in servitude in their roles as inklings and want to escape. They find a way to join the Rabble Mob, a performance troupe and they think they have escaped Profeta but they learn in a sinister way, they haven’t left it behind.

  • Diversity abounds in this book, there is queer romance everywhere and I like that it’s a normal part of this dark fantasy world. It isn’t questioned or explained, it just IS.
  • The world building is interesting – the religion Profeta has these inklings conjuring up tattoos to guide the masses, but through Celia and Anya’s memories of their childhood, they are tortured a lot by their superiors. It was almost like a mixture of Catholicism and Hinduism (with the statue of the Divine and Diavala peeking out beneath and 6 eyes). There is an order to Profeta with the mistico being the holiest and the inklings being the lowest level on the pyramid. Celia and Anya escape and join a theater troupe called the Rabble Mob. The setting reminded me of Venice with the masks, gondolas and houses on stilts.
  • I enjoyed Celia and Anya’s relationship, they had each other’s back to the surprising and bittersweet end. They balanced each other out and went through so much together from their childhood as inklings to running away and becoming part of the theater troupe.
  • Celia and Griffin’s relationship was what kept me interested in this book because there was amazing tension between them. Now this is a slow burn…there is a lot of distrust, and hiding behind masks and innuendos. But they were my favorite part of the book.
  • There was something about the story that just kept me unengaged. I felt like the explanation of the religion and magic in the beginning was confusing to me. Maybe my reality wasn’t suspended enough for me to be immersed in this world of the Divine and Diavala the trickster god.
  • Because the story didn’t engage me right away, it took me awhile to get into this story. I put this aside for two months! I picked it up again because I know it’s being published soon. But I did find the second half of the book moved much faster t
  • The tattoo magic wasn’t what I expected. I thought it was kind of weak because it was like painting a tattoo on a body part and transferring it through magic. I guess I wanted more blood and needles involved. 😅 The tattoos were the only magic in the book.
  • Triggers: physical abuse, torture

This was an okay read for me. I think the world building with the religious aspects and the tattoos was interesting but something was missing for me in the story. My favorite parts were between Celia and Griffin who brought the tension and intensity that stood out in this book. I think many people who enjoyed books like Caraval will enjoy Ink in the Blood.