Ink in the Blood | Book Review

Ink in the Blood #1 | 448 Pages | Feb 11, 2020

ink in the blood at a Glance

  • Overall Rating: ★★★★★
  • Heroine: Oh my rebel soul!
  • Dude: I love a good death dealer
  • Steaminess: The tension is REAL
  • Brutality: Still sobbing

Pairs Well With

Whatever is in Celia’s flask.


This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. The second I saw it on Edelweiss, I knew I needed to read this book. Tattoos and magic? Dark fantasy? SIGN ME UP.

Thank you so much to HMH Books for Young Readers for sending me a physical ARC with fun temporary tattoos to match!

CW: Child abuse, torture, self harm, murder, sacrifice.

It’s really hard to write a review about this book because there is a twist in the first half that blew me away. But also kind of sets the scene for the rest of the plot. But I can say that I LOVED it and it’s absolute creep factor. I’m not huge on horror, but that twist HAD ME.

Ink is considered a dark fantasy, which is 100% my thing and it definitely delivered. The magic system is pretty basic. Inklings are chosen and initiated into Profeta and they send “messages” through the tattoos to citizens in order to get them to change what they are doing in their lives. The inklings get artistic freedom to make the design as they wish and these are checked over by Misticos, who are basically priests. The messages come from the divine who is a saint and has been dead for years… Cue my dislike of religious plot lines.

The whole religion-based evil didn’t bother me though. Maybe I’m just not as annoyed by this or Celia’s, the main character, refusal to actually believe in the religion just comforted me.

Celia and Anya, both inklings, are pretty tired of being punished and beaten for doing any tiny thing wrong, so they find a way to run away with the circus. No really, they run off with a band of traveling actors who are AMAZING. The shows have to be larger than life – kind of like The Night Circus, but they do each act on the same stage, so not really a full circus.

The Rabble Mob is a fun group of characters and they really bring the show and spectacle to life. Especially Vincent and The Plague Doctor. Can we just for a minute be so excited that A PLAGUE DOCTOR character is the mysterious man and I was so into him?

The intrigue and mystery layered into this story had me staying up late and never wanting to set it down. I truly didn’t see the twists coming, which is rare for me and definitely increased my enjoyment. That said, this is not for the weak as there is violence and death littered throughout.

I do have to say that I was so impressed with Smejkal’s inclusiveness when it comes to pronoun preferences. She wrote into the world that each person has a tenor, or a color that indicates their preferred pronoun. She even mentions this can change at any time based on the person’s preference. And she sticks to this, even when going through the death records. If you don’t know and you cannot see a person’s tenor, you automate to They/Them. This is just a part of the world and is brought up at the beginning and not used as a plot device!

Sexual preferences are not brought up, but I got the impression that it is fluid for just about everyone. No one seemed to lean in any direction and nothing was explicit on page except that Celia is clearly bi or pan. Again, it wasn’t used as a plot device, just part of the world and I truly appreciate that this was the case.

This book comes out on February 11 so get ready and pre-order now!

Have you read Ink in the Blood? Let me know what you thought in the comments! 

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