Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange-- Melissa Marr
Ahhh, urban fantasy. There is more and more to choose from these days!
Wicked Lovely is a modern version of an old tale. You know, that old tale about a fairy king finding a mortal to be his queen etc etc. Holly Black wrote a version of this story in her novel Tithe a few years ago. Anyway, just like most retold folk and fairy tales, the story isn't new and usually there are many other retellings. The author just needs to make sure their version isn't too similar to everything else... or to the original story. In Wicked Lovely, Aislinn is one of the rare humans gifted with The Sight, aka she can see fairies. When the summer king claims her for his own, she has to make choices and sacrifices to preserve the existence of both the fairy and human races. Although the story was paced well and held my interest throughout, I kept feeling like I was reading a slightly tamed-down version of Tithe. I know there are many, many differences between these two books, but as a reader, I felt that I shouldn't be quite so reminded of Black's novel.
Ink Exchange, in my opinion, was better. I didn't *love* it, but I did hold my interest, and teens who are into urban fantasy and fairy stories will like it. The story felt fresher. Leslie, who was a minor character in Wicked Lovely, comes from a terribly broken home. Her father is an alcoholic, her brother is a drug dealer and abuses her, and she has to work as a waitress to bring in enough money to pay the household bills. Wanting something for herself, Leslie decides to get a tattoo. Little did she know that the tattoo artist is a halfling, and he tattooed her with an ink made of fairy blood, fairy tears, and shadows. Leslie is now intimately connected with the leader of the Dark Court, who is the enemy of her friend Aislinn (main character of Wicked Lovely), and has to fight for her autonomy once again.
Both books have strong female protagonists, and don't treat right and wrong like dichotomies. I like that Marr writes the "evil" characters in a multi-dimensional way. Also, there is a gritty edge to the books that adds to the overall ambiance.
I would recommend these books to teen girls (boys may like them too if they can get past the female protagonist thing) who like urban fantasy and/or books like: Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl, any Holly Black, Herbie Brennan's fairy books, O.R. Melling's The Summer King, any Francesca Lia Block, and Will Shetterly's Elsewhere and Nevernever.
P.S. Don't you just *love* the book covers?