Author: Eric Smith
No. of Pages: 217
Origins: Bloomsbury Spark
Release Date: 20 January 2015
Bottom Line: A bit simple and predictable, but I really want one of those tattoos now. And that cover is simply gorgeous.
“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 fast-paced fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different…only to discover that destiny is more than skin deep.”
Thoughts: There are some very intriguing and visually striking elements to Inked that attract readers. First off, the cover is gorgeous. Simple in its design, the colors are dramatic while the slight shimmer behind the title hints at the magic that follows. Then there are the animated tattoos that react to one’s surroundings. While Caenum’s hesitancy and fear about being Inked have their merits, the tattoos on other characters are so breathtakingly beautiful that sometimes even Caenum shows signs of tattoo envy. Lastly, there are the magical powers that reside within a select few. Most of these powers harness the elements in some form and therefore also appeal to the sense of sight and sound. Mr. Smith does a great job of capturing these very three-dimensional experiences through his elegantly simple descriptions.
The story itself is similarly simple but still effective. There is a shadowy government and an underground rebellious faction intent on stopping them. There are mysteries aplenty, as well as hidden truths Caenum uncovers throughout his journey. There is even an intriguing attempt to set the story apart from similar novels by some of the surprising morality lessons Caenum must learn. The background descriptions are vivid and appealing, and the characters are likable. Straightforward and comfortably predictable, Inked is an entertaining and easy read.
The one drawback to the story is that there is a lack of satisfaction that does not befit the way the story ends. In fact, it almost seems as if the intention is for Inked to be the first in a series. One gets this impression because the ending is so rushed, and there are few satisfactory answers to the numerous questions raised throughout the novel. The world-building is adequate only if Caenum’s story will continue into another book or two. If Inked indeed is a one-story arc, readers will find themselves frustrated with the lack of character and world development that would allow readers to better understand the stakes at play.
Time and again, readers will find themselves drawn to the descriptions of the characters’ Ink. There may be insidious reasons the government requires all citizens to be Inked, but that makes them no less stunning. In many ways, they become the highlight of the story, and they help offset some of the pain of the lack of answers and the abrupt ending. Suffice it to say, Inked an engaging story of finding one’s inner strength and being true to oneself with the added bonus of magical tattoos and magical powers thrown in the mix.