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.
I struggled with this book and even considered DNFing it at one point. But I’m so glad I didn’t.
With complicated worldbuilding, this isn’t a book you can skim-read. Trust me – you’ll miss some pretty important plot points and details that come into play later on. I think part of the reason I struggled was because of Celia. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about her until around the 40% mark, but that was a personal issue. The friendship between her and Anya is a thing of beauty and is written so well. Once they joined the Rabble Mob, I knew I’d finish the book. The plague doctor is a fascinating character, and his creative dialogue has hidden meanings and is something to ponder. He’s easily my favorite.
The writing style is unique and paints vivid pictures of the world of the Rabble Mob. The mob themselves are made up of unusual, delightful, loyal people – once you’re in, you’re family. I’d also like to mention the outstanding queer representation throughout the novel.
With themes of religion and magic, Ink in the Blood has a dark, heavy atmosphere, and while it may not be everyone’s brand of choice, I’m so glad I stuck with it. Days after finishing, I’m still thinking about it, and the second book is absolutely on my highly anticipated list.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.