Monday, September 10, 2012
Review: Angel's Ink (The Asylum 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.