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Ink Paperback – December 4, 2012
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
"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…
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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.
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.
Wow. And this is supposed to be her debut? I say kudos! Ms. Grintalis is an amazing talent. INK sets in deep with a tail that is farfetched, yet- as any great writer can do- pulls you in, and makes you believe the nightmare real. I was pulled in, fast and hard, the way a great book (especially in the horror genre) should work. I will from here on avoid any tattoo artist that says "the devil's in the details". I never give away anything in my reviews so just let me tell you, the end of this book had me spinning in my chair, racing to the end in the best possible way- and I was not disappointed.
I'm happy to have read such a great book from Samhain Publishing. This is what I expected to find when the head horror honcho at Leisure Books took on the same role for Samhain's Horror line. I am officially a salivating member of the DWG fan club. I cannot wait to see what this talented writer offers up next.
In conclusion---If you were ever a member of the Leisure Book Horror Club- YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK. If you like great writing and scary stories- you will love this book. Trust me-buy it now!
The characters are fleshed out. Jason and his peers feel lifelike, as though they're your own friends. All the dialogue rings true. The relationship between him and his girlfriend Mitch tugged on my heartstrings.
For a horror author, Damien's writing voice isn't brooding and morose. It's brisk, upbeat and crystal clear. This doesn't work against the fear factor, though. It's not the kind of horror story that makes you leave a light on. It's the kind of horror story where things get brutal and you can't help but grin and think, "Hell ya. Bring it on!" It's got spitfire. Badass-ness.
There are some nice moments of imagery and turn-of phrase. Damien knows how to paint pictures in your mind and state things in fresh, clever ways.
I really can't think of anything negative to say. It's just a damn fine novel. Good work.