ebook, 217 pages
Published January 20th 2015 by Bloomsbury Spark
Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.
Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.
And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can't escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.
But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.
Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.
Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.
Rating: 4 of 5
Cover comment: I like the shade of blue and the font. Pretty. I expect the cover for book two to be outstanding.
Book source: I received a promotional copy.
I love reading fantasy. Rich worlds like in Graceling, strong heroines like Widdershins, conflicts like that in The Winner's Trilogy. When the opportunity to read and review Inked came along, I snatched it. Have you read the synopsis? Checked out the cover? Oh yeah. I had to read it. I thank the author and Bloomsbury.
First off, the world of Inked is an intriguing one and unique. When one reaches their eighteenth birthday they are 'inked' by traveling Scribes who choose the occupation this individual will have for life. When the story begins, orphan Caenum is about to face his special day. Being confused and scared, he doesn't want to so he's decided to split. Leave. Run away. Except when he tries to, there are too many obstacles in his way. His closest friend, Dreya, wants to hang out with him. His grandmother wants him. Not wanting to let them down, he does as they wish. Maybe he'll leave later that night. Caenum is instantly likable and totally sympathetic. He has so many questions about the entire inking process and what it means for him and the rest of his life. But when danger approaches and his loved ones are involved, Caenum is faced with much more than just problems about his own future.
So many stories are about the journey from child to adult. The process. The transitions. The feelings, emotions, and other things involved. Caenum's world interested me. Imagine seeing colorful tattoos actually moving along your body? Isn't that fantastic? But things come with prices as Caenum soon discovers. His little town is just a small part of the much bigger picture of the way The Citadel runs things. When Caenum decides to help Kenzi, a young Scribe with special ink, his decision makes him a type of 'marked' individual. Add in his closest friend, Dreya, being on the run with him and things turn very interesting. The reader knows the journey will contain scary things, violence, and traveling. But they will also meet new faces, see new places, and discover the norm isn't exactly what they were told it would be.
I really enjoyed Inked, falling easily into Caenum's world and situation. I especially liked the dynamics between him and Dreya. They seemed to truly understand each other--true 'friends' in every sense of the word. But there's something more beneath their alliance, something lasting and powerful. It was wonderful to see friends realize what they had was more and not merely insta-love. Actually, I wished there was more to their relationship including their budding romance. There were some lovely scenes between them, and being greedy, I wanted more. I also wanted more world building. The first half of the book moved at a steady pace, informative, enthralling, answering questions before I jotted them down. Then the second half took off and I found myself wondering about certain aspects of this larger world and the various inkings.
The character development slowed down too. I would have loved to seen Caenum going through some exercises and training, especially with a certain 'special' individual I won't name (no spoilers). I was hoping this person would be tougher on Caenum and make him grow stronger. Dreya should have been included too (and more opportunities for romance). When Caenum went to meet the individuals of his new 'home', that would've been great to show us (more characters) and we would get to see our young hero in training in action. I did like the characters introduced from the burly cook to the silent marksman. The second half did go by quickly. Why not develop their powers in a timely manner along with their relationship? And I will admit, I was a bit confused about Molivar's sudden appearance later on.
All in all, I thoroughly liked Inked and this whole new world of moving, living inks and powers (and the secrets revealed about these inks made me more of a fan). I hope this is a series because it certainly showed tremendous promise from the likable cast of characters led by a believable young man (I won't divulge what he can do-read the book!) and equally admirable young woman with incredible healing powers and so much more. Mr. Smith, don't leave your fans hanging. Give us more!