Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their shadowy power struggles. When she is attracted to eerily beautiful tattoo, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of the the changes she desperately craves for her own life.
The tattoo does bring changes-not the kind that Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that bind Leslie to Irial, a dark and dangerous faery king fighting for the soul of his court. Slowly, Leslie is drawn deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils...
Melissa Marr continues her tails of Faerie in a dark, ravishing story of temptation and consequences, and of heroism when least expected.
So, this book is actually very frustrating until the very end. Mostly because everybody is an asshole and you expect Leslie to have to choose between two relationships that are very unhealthy. But she doesn't, and therein lies the brilliance of Ink Exchange.
Okay, to start this off we are going to talk about Aislinn, who is supposed to be Leslie's best friend. However, in the few months between Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange their relationship has deteriorated so that they no longer confide in one another despite hugely traumatic events and changes happening to both of them. As the new Summer Queen, Aislinn is distant and doesn't feel that she can share her world with her friends. Leslie is coping with the aftermath of a rape instigated by her brother and isn't ready to confide in anyone. The relationship is tense, but things get worse when Irial, The Dark King, Begins to take an interest in Leslie.
We understand that Aislinn wants to protect the people she loves from the fae, but she disappointed up most because of her stubborn refusal to just tell Leslie what was going on. She could have prevented everything if she hadn't taken it upon her self to choose for Leslie. Even if she didn't know what Irial was doing, she did know he was showing interest in her and she had a right to know what could happen and warn her of him. It seems like common sense, but Aislinn's fear put her friend in danger.
Aislinn also knew about the rape, but never talked to Leslie about it. We understand wanting to allow Leslie to bring it up when she was ready, but Aislinn didn't even make herself available to a friend going through such a horrible ordeal. Then, in the middle of an argument between the two, she had the audacity to imply that Leslie was a slut... low blow.
And then there's Keenan. We may not have liked him in Wicked Lovely, but we sympathized and we understood where he was coming from. In Ink Exchange he runs that all into the ground with his manipulation and use of Niall and Leslie to get into Irial's court. We pretty much hate him now and we hope that he gets whats coming to him in future books.
Irial, again, is the Dark King. Irial is actually a fascinating villain because he does really shitty things and he feels no remorse for these things, but he does them for his court. For instance, Irials court feeds off of fear, pain and lust, basically all the dark emotions of the fae. Since the Winter Queen has been destroyed, the fae court has been more peaceful and his court has been starving, so to fix this he creates a way to feed off humans by using Leslie.
The ink for the tattoo that Leslie chooses is Irial's blood and shadow, and creates a link between them that makes Leslie a conduit of sorts for human pain and suffering and lust. Irial channels it from her into himself, stealing Leslie's own dark emotions in the process, which nourishes the rest of his court, but leaves Leslie strung out, numb, and unable to stray far from his side.