An Addictive Read
Invisible to humans, a world of fairies coexists with ours, a world in which shadows and light, summer and winter must be carefully balanced to avoid war and chaos.
Now, after centuries of searching, the Summer King has found his Queen and made peace with the Winter Queen, upsetting the precarious balance. Without war to feed on, the feys of the Dark Court are fading. To save them and still avoid resorting to open violence, Irial, the Dark King, must bind himself to a human girl and steal her emotions he then will channel to his court. But for his plan to work, the human must choose him, or at least his essence symbolized in a tattoo design.
Abandoned by her mother, and set up by her brother to be raped as a payment of sorts for his drug debts, Leslie is barely surviving in the human world. Her anger, frustration and despair attract the attention of the Dark King, and when she decides to get a tattoo as a first step in reclaiming her life, and chooses the Dark King symbol, her fate is sealed.
Sensing something is wrong with Leslie, her best friend Aislinn who is the new Summer Queen sends Niall to protect her. Not a smart choice as Niall has fallen in love with Leslie. Niall is a dark fey whose touch is addictive to humans, and although he fights his feelings for her, he eventually gives in.
Before their involvement can evolve further, Leslie gets her tattoo and the blood of the Dark King mixed with the ink binds them together in an indissoluble bond. Leslie’s wishes that her pain disappears are fulfilled in a quite literal way, as Irial steals her emotions, but in the process he takes her will as well.
Irial’s plan works at first as his feys grow stronger with the girl’s negative feelings, but other feelings, unknown to him also flows into him, feelings of love and longing, he can’t control. The Dark King knows that humans bound to feys do not last forever and that Leslie’s days are counted. Forced to choose between chaos and his love for his human girl, Irial hesitates.
Ink Exchange’s bittersweet ending works in several levels, without being totally satisfying as several threads are left unresolved. For instance, at one point, Leslie crashes a drug dealer’s wrist but never again is this mentioned. Half way through the book Irial learns that Ani, one of the half-fairies Leslie has befriended, has the unheard of ability to feed in human emotions and realizes she could have been the answer to his Court’s predicament. An interesting alternative that is not discussed further.
Also we know Niall’s touch is addictive to humans. This gives Niall and Leslie’s relationship an edge, a fear of consequences to come that never materialize. And the love triangle between Leslie and the two feys is not so much resolved as dissolved.
But even with these flaws, Ink Exchange—like the drugs Leslie’s brother crave, like Niall’s touch —makes for an addictive read that leaves the reader wanting for more.