From “smoking-hot talent”* Marcella Burnard comes a dangerous and captivating new novel that will get under your skin. With her art and magic, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create or destroy. In her tattoo shop, Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the power embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it. But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel. When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink—something she swore she’d never do again. But a broken vow soon becomes the least of her problems. The real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked with a Living Tattoo against her will. Now, saddled with a powerful, amoral entity willing to do anything to win his freedom, Isa must fight to keep her Living Tattoo from consuming her completely...
World building is a funny thing, and it seems hard to find a good balance in series openers. Too much, and it can make the start of a series feel overly slow and sluggish to get through as you are inundated with all the different elements. Then on the other side of things, too little world building, and it really cripples the story. Unfortunately NIGHTMARE INK falls firmly into the latter category. I had a really hard time staying focused on this book as I couldn't figure who was who, and what was really going on. There was very little explanations nor even character introductions, and the opening cast of characters is pretty big. It almost felt like this should have been the second book in the series where the reader already knew the characters and the rules of the world. Frankly it really baffles me just how much a complete lack of world building there was for the majority of the book. Granted, now after finishing, I think I mostly have a handle on what's going on, but some things still are a bit hazy. It's a shame, because this has the potential to be a really interesting and complex world, I just hope the next book fleshes things out a bit more.
I have to admit that if it wasn't for Isa being such a strong character I probably wouldn't have continued on with this much past the first few chapters due to my frustration with the lack of world explanations. But luckily Isa drew me in enough to stick around, and I'm glad because after finishing I'm pretty intrigued. Isa's strong, but has a haunted past, and it's crippled her relationships with others. Of course that starts to change in NIGHTMARE INK and it was interesting to see her start to come out of her shell and learn to allow the other characters in. It's ironic that it happened at the same time she was dealing with something trying to take her over that she found herself rather than lose herself, but I'm not complaining.
Stilted world building aside, I'm pretty intrigued by this new series. I'll definitely be diving into the next book soon to see where things go after that whopper of an ending. I recommend this to fans of Urban Fantasy who are looking for something a bit different, but just be prepared to overlook the world building issues.