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...
If there was one word I could use to describe Ink Exchange, the second title in what is quickly becoming my favorite Urban Faery series, is dark. And not just, woah-there's-a-lot-of-evil-going-on dark; more like burrowing-farther-in-the-blankets dark. Which, at least in the case of this book, was fantastic. I started out this book while I was in a sort of reading slump, not getting into much of what I had been reading recently; this book most definitely got me out of that. The book starts with Leslie, one of Ash's (the new Summer Queen) friends and totally unaware of the faeries around her; she wants a tattoo and we quickly realize her blindness to the invisible world around her is about to be removed. Irial, the king of the Dark court, has decided she will be bound to him by an ink exchange, binding them together so that he can feed off mortal's dark emotions. Woah, already I was on information overload. But I kept going, hoping for a release from such heavy ideas. Enter Niall, a member of the Summer court, though he once lived among the Dark fey. Irial still wants him to be his predecessor, though when Niall begins lusting after Leslie he is dead-set against her knowing of any of the fey. From there on the story is way to complicated to describe in less pages than what Marr took to explain. But just so you get it, there's love triangle that Leslie isn't even aware she's in the middle of, some really disturbing details about how Irial's Dark fey feed, and the gorgeous, scarred Niall (who I started lusting after somewhere in the middle). This book spun a tangled, complicated web of facts and a beautifully crafted world that leaves you practically gasping in its wake. The descriptions were fantastic, the story was fast, dark, and disturbing, and the characters were perfectly made. A couple of complaints: those random quotes in italics were cool, but what did they mean? Was it just a random little perk, if you noticed that they were in fact quotes? Also, the ending got jumbled a bit; for the sake of spoilers, I'll just say I wasn't totally positive what was really going on there. My favorite character from Wicked Lovely was surprisingly absent; it seemed odd that the whole WInter court was missing from this book. Lastly, why was Irial's court starving after a few days of Leslie leaving when he said several times he hadn't nourished for several months they were doing just fine? The lingering questions annoyed me a bit, but maybe they'll be answered in the next book.
5 stars and a recommendation to fans of Urban Faery. This book was one of the darker books I've read for a long while, so I don't recommend this book to teens under 14.