Release Date: July 30, 2013
Goodreads Rating: 3.79 stars
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Content Rating: PG-16? (Some pretty scary scenes and references to sex-though none is shown)
And they cannot be changed back.
Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.
Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future…and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.
Somewhere between reality and myth lies…
Right after I started reading this book, I glanced at the reviews on Goodreads and was disappointed to see that the first several reviews I ran across were either negative or pretty neutral. (I know – I shouldn’t look, but I just can’t help it – sometimes when I’m reading a book I haven’t really heard of, I just like to get an idea of what I’m in for). So, I started the book with relatively low expectations, ready to be disappointed. But the further I got into the book, the more I found myself thinking, “What is it that those people didn’t like? Maybe it gets worse as the book goes on.” I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did. In fact, I found myself LOVING this book and kind of dreading the end (I’m really glad to see there’s going to be a sequel)!
The book centers around Joy Malone, a 16-year-old girl who is accidentally marked by a Scribe named Ink – a supernatural being whose purpose it is to mark humans for the Folk (spiritual beings) who claim them. Her mark brands her as Ink’s property and helper (and as his lover) and suddenly she finds herself being terrorized by faeries, monsters and spiritual beings who want to use her to get to Ink. And, as she becomes more and more deeply embroiled with the Twixt (the spiritual realm), she learns that she may have more of a place there than she first thought and that some of the Folk might have darker motives than either she or Ink ever imagined.
- Slightly confusing in parts. Okay, I do have to hand it to some of those naysayers – there were parts of this book that were a little confusing. It took a little while to understand who the Scribes were and what they did. (There are actually two Scribes – Indelible Ink and his sister Invisible Inq – okay, it seems a little silly, but after a moment’s pause, I got over that). There were a few points where I had to read something twice so that I made sure that I understood exactly what was being said when it came to the Twixt. But, in the end, I SO loved the originality, complexity and mystery of the world that Metcalf created, that I didn’t mind having to work a little in order to understand all of its details.
- Mom issues? I was worried at first that Joy seemed a bit irrational as far as her mom was concerned and I was hoping that she wasn’t just going to whine about her miserable life for the whole book. Joy’s mom left her dad (and Joy), but tried constantly to contact her and Joy refused to have anything to do with her. Because of her mom’s desertion (along with her brother leaving for college), she had some major abandonment issues that needed to be sorted out. I’m happy to say that this ended up being an area of real growth for Joy throughout the book, though, and, while she did wallow a bit at first, she didn’t let herself turn into a whiny victim. Okay, I know this negative kind of turned out to be a positive, but I’m stretching here. I hate to give glowing reviews with no criticisms what-so-ever!
Now on to the good stuff. What I LOVED about this book:
- The Twixt. As I already mentioned, I felt like Metcalf created a really interesting and complex mythology that drew me into the story completely. I loved the originality of the Scribes and the signaturae that they used to mark people with. I also loved the physical descriptions of the process – I felt like I could almost see the marks as they were being applied and Joy’s fascination translated to me being fascinated by the process as well. I loved all of the interesting Twixt characters – some were incredibly frightening and some were endearing (at least once Joy got to know them), but they were all unique and intriguing.
- Ink and Inq. I loved both of these characters, even though in some ways they were polar opposites. Inq was full of energy and life. She strove to learn everything she could from humanity and didn’t let anything get in her way. She could also be ferocious when she needed to be – so watch out enemies! Ink, on the other hand, had held himself apart from humanity. At the beginning of the book, he came off as sort of a Vulcan-type – very logical and aloof, unable to show true emotion. Still, instead of coming off as cold, Ink maintained a sort of childlike innocence that was completely endearing and because of this he won me over relatively quickly. Through his relationship with Joy, Ink grew and changed throughout the book, becoming more and more human (both physically and emotionally). I loved that this was a slow and sometimes difficult process rather than an instantaneous shift.
- The danger. Let me just say that there are some scenes in this book that almost read like a horror novel and had me on the edge of my seat. Joy was attacked on several occasions by some pretty nasty creatures and she did not usually escape scot-free. There were moments when I cringed because of what was happening to her, but it was in that “Oh my goodness, this is horrible and intense and yet oh so amazing all at the same time” kind of way. I was truly scared for her (and for other characters at times) and I had good reason to be. These were not friendly sprites she was dealing with!
- Joy. I really enjoyed Joy as a main character. She was incredibly strong, but still had weaknesses (her abandonment issues caused some of these). I loved that, even though she was thrown into a nearly impossible situation and was being terrorized at every turn, she didn’t just throw up her arms and say, “I can’t do this! Somebody rescue me!” Instead she took matters into her own hands and fought back no matter what was thrown at her (and, yes, she did sometimes need someone to rescue her, but she was also sometimes the rescuer).
- The romance. I was a little skeptical of the romance element of this story at first, I have to admit. I felt like Ink was a little too clinical for Joy to really fall in love with him and I wasn’t completely on board at the very beginning. But, I think that Ink’s slow transformation is what ultimately made the romance work for me. There were so many little moments between Joy and Ink that were just really sweet. They didn’t have a torrid, passionate love affair – which in this case is a really good thing because it just wouldn’t have fit with the characters. The relationship ended up feeling more genuine; more captivating in a sweet and charming way. I believed that Joy was falling for Ink and that she wanted more than she knew how to ask of him. And, more importantly, I believed that Ink found something in Joy that he had never realized he’d been missing. I believed that he was discovering his humanity through her and I loved the journey!
Indelible was an enchanting, scary, intense, imaginative story that, at many times, left me breathless. While this book could easily work as a standalone novel (we weren’t left with any cliffhangers, thank goodness), I am so glad to see that Metcalf plans to write more books in this series. I will be looking forward to finding out what happens next in the Twixt! 5/5 Stars.
**Disclosure: An ARC version of this book was provided by NetGalley and Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***