Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Ink Paperback – December 4, 2012
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"Damien Walters Grintalis writes with a distinct voice, yet one which contains whispers of Sturgeon, Bradbury and Ellison.”
—Jamie Todd Rubin, Writer & SF Signal Contributor
“As soon as I read this one, I immediately wished that I thought of the idea — but if I had, I doubt I could have executed it half so well.”
—Matthew Bennardo, co-editor of Machine of Death on “Like Origami in Water”
The griffin inked on Jason’s arm looks real enough to take flight. Jason thinks his new tattoo is perfect. Until he wakes up one night to find his arm temporarily ink free. Until he finds a brick wall where the tattoo shop should be.
As Jason’s world spins out of control, he realizes a truth is as sharp as the griffin’s talons. The tattoo is alive, it’s hungry, and if Jason tries to kill it, he’ll die. The artist will remove it for a price, but he’s not interested in money or Jason’s soul. He wants something far worse…
Top customer reviews
From the initial reviews, I was excited about this one. I've read a few short stories from Grintalis and I like her writing. It's always been crisp and she gives us a great twist. Halfway through Ink however, I really felt as if I was reading another author's work. Where was the characterization? The bizarre angles and strange perspectives? We are introduced to Jason with his use of the word "bitch" to describe his wife. Not a good start and it doesn't get any better. The female counterpoint, Jason's new love interest, serves only as the "golly really Jason" and "you can do it Jason" emotional prop. I was really surprised that a female writer came up so short on depth here. The narrative itself is one more "the devil made me do it" tale. Jason of course has made an inadvertent pact with Mr. Devil himself and his tattoo comes to life in the end to destroy him. A friend pointed out that this is the exact same plot as a Tales From the Crypt story, including the note-for-note ending.
This was a very disappointing debut from an author that held promise in her short stories. A weary tale complete with the hint of a sequel, it never moved beyond the cliché horror tropes. I struggled to finish it. Grintalis has the talent to give us challenging, intense horror. This is not it. I do hope that in round two she finds her voice.
And I'm glad I did. Not only did I discover a new favorite fictional place, 1303 Shakespeare Street in Baltimore, but a new writer to watch. Damien Walters Grintalis has a lucid style, an ear for dialogue, and an eye for detail that serve her story well. She also seems gifted with that storytelling quality sometimes called profluence - once the hook is sunk, and she sinks it early, the reader is reeled surely, if not always comfortably, through the plot. After all, this is horror, and horror of a particularly unnerving sort. Bad enough when the monsters are out there. Much worse when they're under our own skin. Or, in this case, under Jason Harford's skin.
After his belittling wife leaves him, regular-guy Jason (I'm thinking John Krasinski) decides to assert his new-found independence by getting a tattoo. Cautionary tale: Choose your skin artist with care, and stay far away from a certain John S. Iblis. He inks a magnificent griffin into Jason's arm. The trouble is, the griffin doesn't always stay put. And that routine permission-to-tattoo form that Jason signed? Turns out that impression he had of ornate script shifting under the mundane typeface was more than an impression. The form was a contract, with some very nasty fine print boilerplate; once Jason puts his signature to it, he becomes fair game for the infernal Iblis, or Sailor as Jason thinks of him, after the sea-faring "avatar" in which Iblis first appears to him.
Where the novel excels is in the matter-of-fact accretion of details that create an increasingly dense atmosphere of supernatural malice and inescapable doom. First, there's that weird shift that occurs between 1301 and 1305 Shakespeare Street. Sometimes the door to 1303 is visible and accessible. Sometimes there is no 1303 Shakespeare, just a blank brick wall. Cool. The interior, also mutable, double cool. A passage near the end of the novel, in which a room in 1303 behaves like a stormy sea, its floorboards undulating in waves, is especially impressive. Then there is the escalation in body parts that Jason finds on his doorstep, starting with a cat's tail and ending in certain human relics. The sensitive, from dogs and young children to a minister, feel an aversion to Jason's tattoo. His dreams center more and more on a place of fire and ash and screaming torment. Finally he actually witnesses the griffin's exit from his skin to full-fledged and hungry life, and that exit is neither pretty nor painless. It is, however, extremely vivid.
Jason, who must eventually test his father's contention that he is strong inside, is a very sympathetic character, as is his new girlfriend Mitch. John S. Iblis, aka Sailor, is a formidable antagonist, with some enjoyable POV passages of his own. Jason's father, alive and dead, is a notable minor character, and it's his catchphrase "It is what it is" that will eventually prove the theme of the novel, for good or ill.
My quibbles with the novel are minor. I found some descriptions overlong or repetitive. Some scene sequences appeared with too much regularity (Jason dreams/Jason discovers new evidence of supernatural mayhem; Bad stuff happens/Jason loses consciousness), but that may also be the nature of the beast where this kind of story is concerned. Antagonism between Jason and his ex-wife never really becomes intense enough to justify the apparent consequences. The interaction between Jason and a teenage neighbor also seems a little thin. That girlfriend Mitch also has a griffin tattoo - and an amazing griffin painting done by her dead brother - are details that cry out for more significance than they receive (basically none) and might better be deleted. Descriptions of how things smelled were so frequent that I began to find them an affectation.
Overall, however, a fine scary read with a smart ending, solid writing and lasting resonance. I look forward to DWG's next book!
It's the story of Jason Harford, a young man devastated after having been left by his wife just before the novel begins. He sets out to soothe the pain of rejection, telling himself he's celebrating his newfound autonomy by doing things his controlling ex-wife never would've permitted. He gets drunk in a bar, and acquiesces to a stranger's suggestion that he should get a tattoo. The tattoo artist, a crusty and uncomfortably menacing old guy Jason calls "Sailor," asks Jason to sign a liability waiver before he proceeds. Jason starts to wonder what he's gotten himself into, but the resulting tattoo of a griffin is beautiful, exactly what he wants. It impresses his friends, even leads to a hookup with an attractive young lady named Mitch, who also happens to have a griffin tattoo.
Jason starts to think he's dodged the worst of the pain of being rejected by his wife. A cool new tattoo, more time to spend with his friends, even a cute young lady who fell into his lap, and seems really into him. Maybe things will turn out better for Jason, not worse... right?
Most readers will have guessed that the significance of Jason's tattoo goes more than skin deep. The name of the book, and the sinister nature of the tattoo artist (real name John S. Iblis) should make clear there's a price to pay, a reversal to come. The tattoo isn't quite what it seemed, and Jason hasn't seen the last of "Sailor."
Many writers whose short fiction is especially poetic or stylized often take a simpler approach when working at novel length, and that's the case here. The writing is deft and effective, with a straight-ahead style of minimal adornment, a focus on clarity. There's never any question what's happening, or why a character is doing what they are -- both frequent problems in first novels. The story is engaging from chapter one, and moves briskly through to the end without faltering or getting side-tracked.
Grintalis is certainly an emerging writer worth keeping an eye on. I'd love to see her approach the novel form using the more poetic, almost ornamented style of language of some of her short stories. In any case, Ink is a successful and most promising debut novel.
Most recent customer reviews
Wow. And this is supposed to be her debut? I say kudos! Ms. Grintalis is an amazing talent.Read more