Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Angel's Ink (The Asylum Tales, #1)

Angel's Ink (The Asylum's Tales, #1)Author: Jocelynn Drake
Series: The Asylum Tales
Release date: October 16th 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Paperback, 368 pages
Buy: The Book Depository

I’m always excited about new urban fantasy series, hoping I’ll discover a new Kate Daniels, new Mercy Thompson or Kara Gillian (or in this case, a new Atticus O’Sullivan). I never do, of course, but a girl can dream, right? In many ways, Angel’s Ink was better than I expected, but parts of it were disappointing as well. I’ll try not to focus only on them.

Gage is a loner, owner of the Asylum Tattoo Parlor and the only person ever to escape the infamous Ivory Towers, home of warlocks and witches. He was taken from his home and forced to start training when he was only seven years old, and despite his enormous talent, he never really fit in with the warlocks that thought themselves superior to every other race on the planet. He didn’t want to be feared, so he left - under the condition that he must never use magic unless it is in self-defense. After some wandering, he opened his tattoo shop and did his best to live unnoticed. But powers like his are hard to ignore, and in trying to help a dying girl, Gage attracted a lot of unwanted attention. Suddenly, things are coming at him from five deadly sides and he has absolutely nowhere to turn to.

On my long list of pet peeves, faulty and incomplete worldbuilding is at the very top. While Drake focused on her plot and at least four more subplots, her world remained murky and undefined. There were warlocks, witches, elves, trolls, werewolves, and just about every other supernatural creature you can think of, but apart from warlocks and elves, none of those groups were defined, there were no limitations, no boundaries, no background whatsoever. Usually, first installments suffer plot-wise because of the need to outline the world as clearly as possible, and that’s how it should be. It is even expected. But to neglect the world in favor of a plot that ends up being overly complicated anyway is almost a crime. In my head, at least.

As a fan of all body art, I enjoyed reading about Gage’s shop, and I thought that mixing ink with various potions, thus making the tattoos magical to some extent, was a pretty great idea.
While I certainly liked the Asylum crew, I never really felt close to them, mostly because of Gage. Deciding to write from an adult male’s perspective when you’re a woman is a tricky (and unnecessary) move, and I just feel that Jocelynn Drake wasn’t very successful at it. Gage is an example of what we women expect (or rather hope) men to be, and a far cry from reality, I’m afraid. I’ve read more than a few urban fantasy novels by male authors with a male protagonist, and believe me, they’re nothing like Gage. Now, I wouldn’t dare presume to understand the inner workings of the male mind, but female voice is one thing I can unfailingly recognize, and with Gage, I didn’t even have to try very hard.

To make the long story short, The Asylum Tales is a series I will be continuing in the hopes that these few problems I’ve mentioned might disappear in the next book.


  1. gr8 review.
    and i totally agree about the murky world building of the book needs to be more fleshed out and the chemistry between Gage and Trixie was also a little unbelievable for me...anyways it was actually a very enjoyable read.

    do check out my review of the book too here

    Le' Grande Codex

  2. I like the idea behind this book but it sounds like the author needs to be more clear about her story plot. I may give this book a chance but it's not especially high on my list. Great review!

    World of Books

  3. Huh, I like the concept behind the books but the lack of world building makes me a bit hesitant to pick it up. I think I'll wait to read a review of the later books to see if I'll pick it up. Thanks for the honest review!

  4. Great review Maja. I'm not sure if this would be one for me but I do hope your issues get sorted in future instalments.

  5. I guess it's always risky to write from the point of view of the opposite sex. I'm sorry you thought it wasn't done well here! I don't think I have heard of this book before... Actually, I'm almost certain I haven't, but Harper Voyager's books are hardly ever on my radar, so it's not too suprising. Lovely, balanced review, Maja! :)

  6. That's too bad you didn't like this more, Maja. I do think it sounds interesting though. It is a story that
    appeals to me. I do love the cover so! Hopefully the next in the series will
    turn out better for you. Lovely review. :)

  7. i love her dark days books . have not read all but i love them so far . writing from the opposite sex is tricky / gr8 review . hopefully the next book will be better

  8. Yep we are womder book twins....we need to unite! Okay at the top of my list is crappy cliffhangers followed by shoddy world building and then bad grammar and unrelatable characters. This does sound so promising. Never give up hope on finding that great new series!

  9. This looks good! I must re-post on my blog ,if you dont mind!

    1. Thank you, and you're more than welcome to post a link that leads back here.

  10. I guess it usually is the first in a UF series that's the one to get through, am I right? I am intrigued by the male narrator, and I liked Drake's other series well enough (Nightwalker et al). Vague world-building is one of my biggest pet peeves too though - that's pretty unforgivable for me. Great review my dear!

  11. Wonderful review, Maja! Unfortunately, I don't think this one will work out for me because I know the lack of world-building will grate on me a LOT, but it looks like I'll need to check out Mercy Thompson and Kara Gillian as I haven't even heard of them before! Not to mention I need to finish Kate Daniels... ;) Anyway, I'm glad you still liked this book despite its problems, so hopefully the sequel will work out better for you, dear! *fingers crossed*

  12. Awww I'm sorry this didn't work out for you as you'd hoped Maja, I guess it's really tough when the bar is already set so high by Kate Daniels etc, but at least on the whole this left you with some hope that the series will improve (I have my fingers crossed for you!)

  13. I've never heard of this book before but the cover looks intriguing. I'm sorry you weren't quite able connect with the Asylum crew although I hope the sequel gets better for you!

    Awesome review, Maja! ♥

  14. I totally understand about the world building in the first book of a series, I know we might complain as readers when there is SO much detail and description but you're right about it being expected and necessary! Still, this sounds like it has potential!

  15. I agree, when women write from a man's point of view or vise versa, the narrative usually doesn't work or just sounds very... odd. It's too bad this was exactly the case with Angel's Ink. :( I think I'll pass on this one, especially with such sketchy world-building too (my teeth always grit in irritation when I come across that!) and because I'm not much of an UF fan at all. Stunning review, darling. :)

  16. I love the name Gage, and, despite the issues you had with this one, I think I like the sound of it enough to give it a try. Thank you for putting this one on my radar, Maja! As always, a wonderful and thought-provoking review!

  17. Maja this review is all kinds of awesome. I always love how honest and real you are in them. I can't wait to see what you talk about next.

  18. I SO know what you mean about picking up a new paranormal and hoping to find something as awesome as the Mercy Thompson/Kate Daniels greats. (Have you read the Arcadia Bell books? They are one of my newer finds and I lurve them.)

    Sorry this one let you down, over complicating things is a big turn-off for me as well, I usually end up just giving up as soon as things start getting too bogged down. Glad you stuck with it and I hope it does get better with the next book!

  19. Total bummer this first one didn't work for you... oh, to find the perfect UF series. I personally think it's a hard genre to find your perfect match in an UF series b/c of all the aspects to it (world building, plot, basic writing, characters, blah, blah, blah). Yikes! I'd never try and write one!!!

    I'm still all over this Angel's Ink when it comes out b/c I got a total Atticus vibe to Gage when I read Bronx's Tale. And I'm a fan of Drake's Dark Days series so I've just got to see for myself - you know that whole "what's good for the goose..." thing


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