Tattoo magic, people!!!! Magic ink!!
OMG, I loved Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal so much. I loved it so much I read it in one day. That hasn’t happened to me in YEARS. I am actually afraid to pick up my next book because I know it is going to disappoint me as only any book following an excellent book does.
It is not just the tattoo magic that made me fall in love with Ink in the Blood. I adore any story that is critical of organized religions, and Ink in the Blood is particularly brutal in that area. What makes the criticism particularly satisfying is the fact that in the story, a deity does exist. Faith has actual substance, and yet the organized part of the religion remains corrupt and anything but pious – something Celia and Anya know from experience. And before a reader complains about the fact that the Profeta tortures children, let’s not ignore the Catholic Church’s history of torture and mutilation in the name of God.
The other aspect of Ink in the Blood I adore is Ms. Smejkal’s use of gender fluidity. Children who don’t get names until they choose one for themselves, the use of He, She, and They, the auras that allow people to identify fluctuating genders – to me, everything about this is revolutionary but feels so right. There is a matter-of-factness about gender identity and allowing children to self-identify that is respectful and yet proves a point that such things do not have to be complex or confusing. As this is the first novel wherein the author used “they” as a pronoun to identify one person, I loved every time I came across its use.
Every individual aspect of a story could be good, but unless the writing is equally good, the story could be a failure. Thankfully, this is not the case with Ink in the Blood. Fantastic pacing, great supporting characters, and seamless world-building round out this amazing tale. The story itself is dark and desperate. In fact, the author added a trigger warning on GoodReads because some of the subject matter is disturbing. You know that I love dark and disturbing, so this only enhanced my love of it. To me, it shows that Ms. Smejkal is not afraid to take chances. Plus there is tattoo magic. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will! 😀