*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
So… this book sounded cool because tattoo magic! But it ended up not quite working for me.
One of my issues was that I didn’t understand the world. I know everyone complains about info dumping, but I need a little bit of explanation. I finally got some answers in the second half of the book or so, but there’s still a lot I’m unclear on. It seemed as though the vast majority of the population were either supernatural or had magic, and different types of magic were taught at colleges, but I have no idea if you have to born with an innate skill or if anyone can learn it. I also don’t know how many different types of magic/magicians there are or what any of them do except tattoo magicians and breakers (Isaiah was a weaver, but I still don’t understand what that meant). And I guess having magical animal tattoos inside of you was a common occurrence. Also, there was a council and a guild, but I don’t know what either of them did or were in charge of.
And because I didn’t understand what the council was or did, I didn’t understand why Dacian was so afraid of them finding out about his magic. It was such an important thing, Dacian didn’t want to get involved in the murders because he didn’t want to reveal his ink magic to anyone and was constantly thinking about how he had a bag packed and could flee to Europe… but I had no clue why.
It also seemed like the author was trying to put more meaning into every relationship than was actually there. And there was so much… touching. Not that I have an issue with affection between characters in books, but this felt forced. Caressing and kissing wrists and brushing fingers over lips and rubbing thumbs over wrists/knuckles and cupping faces—between Dacian and Keirn, between Dacian and Isaiah even when they’d just met, even Ethan got in on the lip touching action at one point.
On a similar note, none of the characters felt three-dimensional. Isaiah was the scrawny-but-feisty stereotype, Vyx was kind of the same but female, Ethan was the flirtatious jerk who was actually a good guy, etc. Dacian was the only one who came close to being realistic.
Also, it took long time for anything to really happen. And then the resolution came suddenly and easily and was kind of anticlimactic. At least there was a solid resolution to the problem of this book though (with an opening for the series to continue). And I would still say this was more of a plot-driven than character-driven book.
Lastly, this is one of those nitpicky things, but I have never in my life called someone or been called or heard anyone refer to their friend as “old friend.” Like, “Thank you, old friend.” “I’m sorry, old friend.” It just grated on me until, every time it was used, I would cringe and get twitchy.
Oh! It’s probably also worth mentioning as a positive thing for anyone who likes reading about pets that there were lots of animals since Dacian had a cat and a snake (tattoos, but they came to life as corporeal things) and Keirn had a fox.
Overall, despite all my complaints, I wouldn’t say this was a bad book, and Dacian wasn’t an unlikeable character, but the characters didn’t feel real to me, and I had a hard time getting into the story.
Urban fantasy fans looking for something plot-driven and uncomplicated.