Review: Nightmare Ink by Marcella Burnard

nightmare inkReviewed by Jen

After reading the blurb on this book, I was sure it was going to be a total ripoff of Jocelynn Drake’s Angel’s Ink.  After all, the Urban Fantasy market isn’t exactly overrun with stories surrounding protagonists who run tattoo shops featuring magic infused tats.  On top of that, in both books, the main character is crazy powerful, hiding the extent of their abilities and creating a makeshift family with their co-workers.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that, despite the parallels, this book had a totally different feel than the other.

The premise on the tattoos goes like this: a magical tattoo artist has the ability to call forth the spirit of demon or mythological animal and bind it to their client in what is known as Live Ink.  The wearer must fuse with the entity. It allows them fast healing and longevity, but it also changes who they are. And it can go wrong. Which is where Isa comes in.  When the ink threatens the life of its host, she uses her gift to bind it.

Things start to go wrong for her when the police bring her a case where the man is past saving. Somehow, the tattoo manages to rip itself from its host’s body, killing the guy. The resulting investigation, puts Isa back in the orbit of her powerful ex, Daniel, who ends up making her life hell. Plus, there is the matter of Isa’s own Live Ink, whose plans for freedom include her death.

Overall, I liked the story. I liked Isa and I enjoyed watching her demon, Murmur, learn her world through her eyes.  I really liked seeing Isa’s perceptions about herself and Live Ink evolve. As a whole, I found it dark, engaging, and unpredictable.  But there were some problems. At the beginning of the book, I felt overloaded with characters and information, making it hard to connect right away.  Also, Daniel was a flat villain.  He was so 100% bad that there was no dimension to him.  The investigator Anne lacked nuance as well. She came at Isa with guns blazing from the start and the depths of her antipathy didn’t ring true.  And finally, I found Murmur’s attitude overhaul at the end way too abrupt. I liked that he had a journey he needed to take with his state of mind, but he spun 180 degrees in a very short period of time.

I will read the next one. I am very curious how the author will move forward from the twist at the end.  I think dark UF fans will like the series, just don’t expect an entirely smooth ride.

Rating: B-/C+

*ARC Provided by InterMix

Click to purchase: Amazon

Nightmare Ink
by Marcella Burnard
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: InterMix

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