So I truly madly deeply enjoyed Inkmistress. It blew Of Fire and Stars out of the water for me. It was lush and had incredible characters and took so many turns I was not really expecting.
Asra is a demigod with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing with her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.
But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance in finding her manifest—the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.
Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself.
I think prequels are difficult beasts to write. There’s a definite ‘end point’ in your mind about where the story eventually goes because the first book is already written. So already my little hat goes off to Coulthurst. But this story is just fantastic. It is one of the last books I read in 2017 and it just ended the year on such a high note for me.
I will read books about the themes of forgiveness and vengeance forever. There is just something about that theme that I never get tired of. Maybe because it’s so universal and so close to home and just appeals to everyone? Because we’ve all had that fight or that grudge and we’ve all had to think – how do I get over this hurt? To cover this wound? And we always have to struggle with the choice of getting even or moving on, or in some cases trying to do both in rapid succession.
I really loved our main character, Asra. Not only is she super talented and cool, but she is a bisexual demigod. Um, hello? What I loved is that she isn’t one of those people who is super curious by nature, she isn’t one of those adventure high or adrenaline junkie, she’s okay living on the mountain and doing what she thinks is right. But oh willy, her world explodes in color after one decision. One she spends the whole novel trying to make up for.
And can you sense the angst? It’s even angst of my heart because this book made me so emotional for a variety of reasons. I loved, LOVED, the conflict of duty and love and sacrifice. What are we willing to sacrifice for those we love? Would we do the wrong thing for the right people? Is the answer really ever no? This is what actual books are made of.
Yet Coulthurst takes us on this nuance and totally bumpy ride that is just as delicious as your [insert favorite desert here]. (I’m all about the lava cakes now, but to each their own). And what this really exposes is that magic is malleable. It can be used for good or evil depending on the person. AND FURTHERMORE, it isn’t even that simple. Because what is really good and evil? *mind blown*
Coulthurst takes us all the way there, thematically, and therefore hits it out of the ballpark for me on that scale. The storyline was complex and I don’t think I can say I loved Asra anymore times (ps. I loved Asra). No one is who we think, and that’s one of the dangers of caring for others.
Go get Inkmistress on Goodreads. Inkmistress asks us: what will we do to stand up for ourselves, to do what is right, to stop those we love?
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