This second installment to the Wicked Lovely series is certainly a darker read than its predecessor. But it fits, as the reader is shown another perspective of the faery world, the Dark Court. Unlike the eternal sunshine and merry making of the Summer Court, here the faeries sustain themselves on the emotions of others—both faery and mortal.
The actions of Ink Exchange
are a direct result of the events that took place in Wicked Lovely
: With the fall of Beira, the Winter Queen, the Dark Court faces the dilemma of providing a solution to quench the needs of its insatiable members during a time of peace. Thus the introduction of the ink exchange, a link between faery and mortal to help channel the nourishing energy of emotion to the dark faeries. Yet, how was Irial, the Dark King, to know that establishing such a connection to a mortal would change him, force him to question his right to be the Dark King—a position he's held for centuries?
The characters of Ink Exchange
aren't necessarily new, as they were previously introduced in Wicked Lovely
, but are just as captivating. Leslie, Aislinn's friend, is initially in a fragile position, and throughout the book she's trying to regain a sense of autonomy and control in her life after it was brutally robbed from her. And through their connection to Leslie, both Irial and Niall also undergo a reevaluation of sorts—a reorganization of priorities through new understandings. I must say, that at first I wasn't too keen on Irial, and sympathized with Niall's distrust of his character. But by story's end, when we get a full disclosure of his thoughts/feelings, Irial earned my respect. This is another reason why I love Marr's writing—multiple character perspectives that help the reader sympathize with a character.
The underlying theme of the consequences of actions through choice almost reminded me of a Thomas Hardy novel. Leslie, for me, was like a modern Eustacia Vye—the inherent desire to be independent, to live life by her own standard—yet unlike Eustacia, Leslie may get the chance to fulfill her desires by looking back, learning from past mistakes and deciding for herself that it's time to move forward.
All in all, another satisfying installment to the series by Melissa Marr.