Dark Fantasy in INKED–Review and Giveaway!

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Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly released YA fantasy novel from Eric Smith. INKED is the story about a land steeped in magic and terror and the young folks that have to find a way to safety, if such a place even exists.  I really liked it!

Catch my review below, and be sure to enter the giveaway for your copy.

inked coverAbout the book:
Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.
Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

Eric Smith takes you on a high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.

Advance Praise:
“INKED is an action-packed read with a hero I could root for, magic I wanted to have, and a vivid fantasy world to back it all up. Smith’s prose had me turning pages way past my bedtime.” – Susan Dennard, author of SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY

“A fast-paced page-turner from Eric Smith filled with magic, mystery and mayhem.” – Kristi Helvig, Author of BURN OUT

“With a lively cast of characters and a captivating idea, INKED draws its readers into a world where magic lives on every page.” Kat Zhang, author of The Hybrid Chronicles series

My Review:
Caenum is due for his Ink, and in the Realm governed by the Citadel, magical Ink tattoed into your skin determines your fate. If your Ink says you’ll be a farmer, then you are a farmer. If it says you’ll be a swordsman, guess what you’ll be… Caenum’s afraid that his Ink will take him far from his farm and his grandmother who has raised him. He’s also afraid that it will separate him from Dreya, his neighbor and best friend, the girl of his dreams even if he’s afraid to admit it.

Caenum toys with the idea of running away, becoming one of the Unprinted rebels who live outside the Realm’s borders, but doing that will take him away from everyone he loves just as well. On the night before Caenum’s Inking, Kenzi, one of the Scribes who has traveled to Caenum’s village, experiences a magical meltdown and Caenum is caught in the crossfire. Kenzi–newly Inked himself–is the most feared of beings, a Conduit. The Ink in his skin unleashed latent magical powers that manifest dangerously. Caenum’s grandmother insists Caenum take Kenzi to Sanctuary, a hidden village of Conduits, before the soldiers of the Citadel arrive to kill Kenzi. Unfortunately, before they can escape the townsfolk go mad, the solders arrive and the bloodbath that results leaves Caenum, Kenzi and Dreya on their own to find Sanctuary–a place, it turns out, they all need to go.

Okay, so this is a really interesting fantasy story about kids overcoming all odds to get to a safe haven. And, when that happens they recognize there is no safe haven in their world. Sanctuary is not freedom, it is another type of prison, and the people there have radical ideas for enacting change: outright rebellion. Imagine if Magneto was running the X-men, and you’ll get an idea of the megalomania at work. I liked the story, though I wished it had dug deeper, and been more thorough. There were moments when the time frames seemed too convenient, too unrealistic. People tied to beds for days need a place to use the facilities, folks. And, that said, Caenum’s suddenly thrust into a battle–with little-to-no training–and expected to “wing it” as a hero. It was a bit hard for me to digest. Especially as he was so ‘naturally’ good at it. (O.o)

There are some romantic elements here but they are understated. Barely a kiss on the page. I did really enjoy the camaraderie that developed between Caenum, Dreya and Kenzi, and I found their individual talents to be interesting, and the plot compelling. I guess it’s me being greedy for a book that satisfies me completely. It’s not a long tale, and I was able to inhale it over the course of an evening. While the story ends (kinda abruptly) there’s no cliffhanger. It’s clear, however, that there is a continuing menace regarding the attitude of the Citidel toward Conduits–don’t ask me the source of Ink please–and a new story could spring from the necessary battles for complete freedom. *fingers crossed*

Interested? You can find INKED on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.


Click this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an e-book of INKED and a signed poster!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

eric smithAbout the Author
Eric Smith is the author of THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO DATING, out now via Quirk Books, and INKED, a YA novel out with Bloomsbury Spark. His writing has appeared locally in the Philly Weekly, The Inquirer, and on Philly.com. He’s written for the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Boing Boing, and is a regular contributor to BookRiot and Geekosystem.

His essays have appeared in the Bygone Bureau and The Apiary, and his first published piece will appear in THE ASTEROID BELT ALMANAC with the Hand & the Hand Press in April 2014. He’s the co-founder of Geekadelphia, a popular hyperlocal geek blog in Philly, and the Philly Geek Awards, a ceremony honoring local geeks in his city. Eric holds a BA in English from Kean University and an MA in English from Arcadia University. He currently lives in Philly. You can find him on Twitter at @ericsmithrocks and @geekadelphia.

Catch Eric online on his website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.