Ink Exchange is about a young woman who finds a strange connection with a mysterious tattoo design. As she works on getting the tattoo, she finds herself becoming a key player in the world of the dark fae. I admit that I broke one of my cardinal rules with this book. It is clearly the second book in the Wicked Lovely series, but I was so excited when I found it that I decided to read it without chasing down a copy of the first book in the series first.
It is definitely a book geared towards teens, but I was shocked initially at how adult the situations were, including rape, drugs, broken homes, polyamorous relationships. I knew from writers conferences that today’s children books are written for a more sophisticated group of kids than in the past, but it was still surprising to me to see it in practice. I’ve noticed for a long time that the list of award-winning books that are recommended for children and teens have the bleakest descriptions in the universe: death, death, suicide, rape, cancer, death. I realize that the descriptions are written for the parents and teachers looking for books to recommend to their children and students that deal with the kind of real world topics that kids have to deal with, but there is usually nothing that entices me to read any of the books in those long lists of despair.
This book dealt with some of those weighty topics that teens encounter, but it was wrapped in fantasy and an intriguing magical storyline. This book would have caught my attention as a teen because of its connection with the fae and mysterious connections with other worlds. On the surface, the story is about dark fairies finding a new way to feed off of human emotions. In its depths, it is a powerful story about recovery from rape, the way that friends can help or hurt, and self-empowerment. It is filled with rich, sensual language and is a very engaging read.