Title: Ink in the Blood (Ink in The Blood #1)
Author: by Kim Smejkal
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 11th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Fantasy
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.
Kim Smejkal lives with her family on muse-satiating Vancouver Island, which means she’s often lost in the woods or wandering a beach. She writes dark fantasy for young adults and not-so-young adults, always with a touch of magic. Her debut novel, INK IN THE BLOOD, will release from HMH in early 2020, with a sequel to follow in 2021. She is represented by Daniel Lazar of Writers House.
“They’d play like Diavala and be tricksters all the way.”
Ink in the Blood is one of those stories that holds a powerful meaning and can easily maintain a reader’s attention. I was pleasantly amazed with how this story unfolded. I enjoyed the characters, the array of LGBT representation, but I overall enjoyed most the bond between two girls and their fight for their own destiny.
The writing is both lyrical and poetic. Honestly, the writing is what really drew me into the story (once I started to read, the beautiful cover initially captured my attention). The author has such lush writing that I could easily imagine the world and the characters. I was enamored with this story and the dark world building. Everything is so beautifully described and depicted.
“That time, his smile almost killed her.”
I really enjoyed the magic system in this story. Ink magic in the form of tattoos is unique and quite intriguing; it’s such a neat idea to think of ink in someone’s veins. But at the heart of this story lies a bigger, more meaningful type of magic: freedom. Celia and her best friend, Anya, want to escape the Profeta, which works out well for them when a traveling theater troupe comes through their town. But what Celia wasn’t expecting was to be followed by the Divine; and Celia has now given the Divine the perfect opportunity to spread her mendacious influence.
“Only the damned speak with devils.”
I won’t lie, I was a bit surprised in the direction this story went, in a good way. I wasn’t expecting the story to be so dark, but it fit so well with the plot and the characters. The concept behind the people wanting to create a world of fear is beautifully done and believable, and Smejkal did a wonderful job creating that overall dark vibe of the story. She easily depicts how difficult it is to create a future for yourself when the Divine wants your freedom and when people live in a world of constant fear.
“Sometimes what looks like betrayal is actually the biggest sacrifice.”
I have to say that my favorite part about this story was Celia’s and Anya’s relationship. Their friendship meant everything in this story; both girls were there for one another and fought for each other. That’s the type of bond I love to see in fantasy stories, and Kim Smejkal did a great job illustrating that bond. Both girls also want to change their fate; they each want to be able to pick their future instead of live in the one already dictated for them. I loved seeing how each girl overcame their struggles and fought for something they truly believed was possible. Their story provided hope and
Overall, I was impressed with this debut novel. The bond between Celia and Anya is phenomenal and really ties this story together. This is a wonderfully-done fantasy debut, and I can’t wait to see what happens next with the characters.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Check out the amazing book bloggers on this tour:
Prize: Win (1) of (2) finished copies of INK IN THE BLOOD by Kim Smejkal and temporary tattoos (US Only)
Starts: 5th February 2020
Ends: 19th February 2020
Thank you, Fantastic Flying Book Club, for having us on this wonderful blog tour!