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Ink Exchange (Wicked Lovely) Hardcover – April 29, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 212 customer reviews
Book 2 of 5 in the Wicked Lovely Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—This urban fairy tale, a sequel to Wicked Lovely (HarperTeen, 2007), is impossible to put down. Leslie lives with a father who has given up on life, a drug-abusing brother who allowed his dealer to rape Leslie in lieu of payment, and a burning desire to banish pain and fear from her life. Unable to confide in her best friend, Aislinn, she devotes herself to working to pay the family bills and to get the tattoo she believes will help her reclaim her body. What she doesn't know is that the art she has selected will bind her to Irial, the king of the Dark Court of Fairy. He removes her emotions like fear, panic, or anger, and uses them to nourish the fairies of his court. What Irial doesn't expect is his growing love for Leslie and her desire to make her own choices. In Leslie, Marr has created a damaged, wounded character who still comes across as being incredibly strong. Irial needs to care for his court, knowing them too weak to win a war, but his feelings for Leslie make him unwilling to do what needs to be done. The lesser characters are also well drawn: Rabbit the tattoo artist, his father, Gabriel, and also Aislinn, Keenan, and Seth from Wicked Lovely. While reading that book first would give more shades to some of the characters, it isn't necessary to appreciate the intricate world that Marr creates.—Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA
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From Booklist

Newcomers and returning readers alike will devour this companion novel to Marr's ragingly popular Wicked Lovely (2007). The new peace between the Summer King and the Winter Queen isn’t good for everyone: those of the Dark Court, who feed on faeries’ destructive emotions, are dangerously weakened. Irial, King of the Dark Court, needs a solution, and he finds one in the Summer Queen’s mortal friend Leslie. Tormented by memories of abuse, Leslie wants nothing more than to reclaim her body by getting a tattoo, but the enchanted design she selects provides Irial with a direct link to mortals’ emotions. The tattoo binds Leslie and Irial together even as a third faerie works to prevent their destructive yet seductive connection. All of Marr’s characters are complex, defying easy description and evoking sympathy and horror in equal measures, and all cast a thrall that will leave readers willing to forgive plotting that can be difficult to follow. This dark fantasy about survival and transformation is as mesmerizing as its urban faery subjects. Grades 10-12. --Krista Hutley

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Product Details

  • Series: Wicked Lovely (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006121468X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061214684
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Marr seems to fall into the same trap as she did with Wicked Lovely in ths book: she starts off with an amazing premise that starts a reader salivating, but somehow the book never really lives up to it. While I still enjoyed both books, INK EXCHANGE seemed to take Marr's tendancy to never live up to her premises to a new level. It's strange, because the book was good, it was an entertaining read, but it never reached my expectations. I've been thinking about why, and I've finally come up with a few ideas.

First off, I do love Marr's image of faerie courts as street gangs. It's definitely a fun contrast than what we'd expect from other more traditional novels. Yet Marr never seems to bring her magical gangs to life. We never get a full, detailed image of their world and have to glean anything we can from offhand remarks (like the constant half-allusions to the High Court). In fact, though Marr offers beautiful (and kind of purple) physical descriptions of her fey, they're too often not in a way that the reader can actually picture what they look or sound like (a voice being "as refreshing as a sip of the moon". Really?). But it's not just the fey themselves that feel vague; so do their struggles and their very relationships with other courts. Throughout the book, Marr talks about the idea of there being discord between the courts, but barely explains it and never goes beyond the surface. Everything about them just feels so very vague and unfinished. This is exactly how Keenan's predicament in Wicked Lovely came across. His father was mentioned, something about Keenan's power being reduced by his mother, but we never got a decent explanation as to why and how and where and when this all happened. A little detail goes a long way. A lot of detail goes longer.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not ready to pass judgment on INK EXCHANGE. When I turned the last page and closed the book, I thought: this story is not over. Melissa Marr's first book set in the world of faerie, WICKED LOVELY, was self contained - and I'm not sure what, or who, the next book is supposed to be about. If INK EXCHANGE is supposed to be Leslie's whole story, I have to say I'm disappointed. But if it's the beginning of a series, I'm delighted.

INK EXCHANGE starts off with Leslie, the protagonist, getting ready to leave for high school while her brother smokes crack at the kitchen table. It's an early warning to the reader: this is an unrelentingly dark book. Leslie is living in a nightmare version of the human world, and it isn't long before she is unwittingly caught up in a nightmare version of the faerie world: the Dark Court. These solitary fey nourish themselves on pain, hatred, greed, lust, and just about any other ugly urge that man or faerie is capable of. They starve without this nourishment, and peaceful times are lean indeed.

Marr has set herself the difficult task of rendering these Dark faeries sympathetic to the reader. They are emotional parasites, and they literally thrive on suffering. Their King, Irial, shows us that at least some of these repulsive creatures are capable of great virtue: Irial is a devoted caretaker of his people, capable of true friendship, self-sacrifice, and sensitivity. It is moving when he exhibits these qualities, and then doubly repulsive when he sets them aside. Frequently, Marr follows the Dark faeries as they prepare for their hideous feasts - and then fades to black. But we can imagine how they must proceed, by watching how Irial treats Leslie - a girl he loves, and swears to protect. He treats her very, very badly.
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Format: Hardcover
Torn up inside after her drug-dealer brother betrays her in the most horrible way, Leslie puts on a brave front with her friends, pretending her drunken dad isn't letting the bills pile up and hiding all her pain. Hoping to take back control over her body, she decides to get a tattoo, and picks out a special design at the tattoo parlor she often hangs out at. Unbeknownst to Leslie, that tattoo is the symbol of Irial, the king of the faerie Dark Court, designed to allow him to filter the unpleasant emotions that feed his court through her into him and his people.

As Leslie finds her vision changing and her feelings shifting in unpredictable ways, Niall, a faerie of the Summer Court who has always admired her, steps in, hoping to help her and keep Irial away. He has his own tangled feelings about Irial, whom he once counted as a friend. But as Leslie sinks further under Irial's thrall, enjoying the escape from the hurt and fear she'd been living with, only she can decide when to pull away--or whether she would rather stay with him, after all.

INK EXCHANGE is a darkly imaginative novel set in the same world as Marr's first novel, WICKED LOVELY. Readers will enjoy exploring the lives of some of that novel's minor characters and seeing more of the shadowy side of the faerie courts. They may find Leslie, Niall, and Irial less engaging than the spirited and perhaps more sympathetic narrators of WICKED LOVELY, but the trio still make for a fascinating "love" triangle as each deals with conflicting emotions and tries to decide what is right both for him or herself and for those who are counting on them.

The imagery is striking and evocative, and the politics of the different faerie courts is intriguing to explore. A great book for dark fantasy fans.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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