Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

Title: Inkmistress
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Genre: High Fantasy
Source: Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

Asra is a demigod with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing with her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.

But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance in finding her manifest—the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.

Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself. Most frightening of all, she discovers the dark secrets of her own mysterious history—and the terrible, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.
Review by Nara

Inkmistress is a novel set about 200 years before Of Fire and Stars, in the same world. Main character is Asra, a demigod who is able to change the future and the past by writing in her blood. Everything goes horribly wrong when she tries to help the girl she loves, inadvertently upending her life and going onto a journey to fix what she has broken.

The trope of keeping secrets is one that I generally really dislike, and I liked how Coulthurst changed things up by letting Asra confess what she had done to Ina pretty early on in the book rather than leaving it to the climax of the novel as the "final betrayal". I'm generally okay with non point-of-view characters having secrets, because it's the tension and poor self-justification that I dislike, so I was okay with there being some interesting reveals later in the novel.

I'm not sure exactly what, but it did feel as if there was something missing from the plot. It perhaps could have done with more depth- it was rather simplistic, and there didn't seem to be a lot of good explanations behind the various characters' actions. Which is a shame, because many of the characters were morally ambiguous, and the story could have been one of those dark, political fantasies that I love.

On the other hand, I did like the characters overall, especially main characters Asra and Hal. Asra's powers are pretty interesting, with a nice balance between the power itself and the cost to the user of the power. I enjoyed her journey from isolated, naive girl to uh....slightly-less naive girl. Okay, yeah she doesn't seem to really develop too much throughout the novel, but I found that didn't impact too much on my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, a pretty decent fantasy novel. Like Of Fire and Stars, I would probably recommend it to people looking for something a bit lighter and less complex in plot.

Liked it
Overall: 7/10
Plot: 3/5
Romance: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 4/5