Anyone who reads Melissa Marr’s debut, Wicked Lovely (not necessary to reading this book, but certainly highly recommended, as it’s quite brilliant, and will give readers a fuller grasp of what is going on in Ink Exchange), will have very high expectations for Ink Exchange. I know I did, and I was far from disappointed.

Ink Exchange is not a sequel to Wicked Lovely, but the main characters here were minor characters there, and the main characters in Melissa Marr’s first novel do have parts to play in her second. Leslie is a friend of Aislinn’s from school–a good friend of hers, one of the friends that Aislinn wants to protect from her new life as a faerie queen.

Leslie has a tough life, no question about it. A father who hasn’t been much of a father since her mother left and a brother who’s addicted to drugs are Leslie’s family, and, add that to the dangerous people her brother brings home, you can see why Leslie doesn’t like to go home more than she has to. Aislinn has guards protecting Leslie, but they can’t keep her safe from her own family very well.

Leslie wants to take control of her own body after an awful experience, and the way she sees to do it is to get a tattoo. None of the typical images, however, appeal to her, so Rabbit, the tattoo artist, shows her a book of designs that most customers don’t get to see. When she finds one that she likes, however, she has no idea of what the consequences will be, that she will soon be involved in a world that has, up until now, been invisible to her. I don’t want to give too much away, but, trust me, it’s awesome. I’ve talked about Leslie, but she’s not the only main character–Irial is the king of the Dark Court, and he certainly plays a major part in this story, but I feel like talking about him might be giving a little too much away, more than I’d like. The same goes for telling Niall’s part of the story, beyond the fact that he is one of Keenan’s top people, and one of Leslie’s guards, and that she has feelings for him, but neither of them can act on it.

Ink Exchange is a captivating, well-told story. It’s haunting and dark and lovely and amazing–just as good as, and maybe even better than Wicked Lovely (though I couldn’t decide for sure). It’s a darker story than its predecessor. Melissa Marr creates a wonderful story, dealing with serious topics such as addiction and rape (yes, it is a faery story, but these are certainly not of the Walt Disney variety!). There is also the same fascinating mythology from Wicked Lovely, and Melissa Marr again shows her talents at creating wonderful characters. This is yet another brilliant book from a brilliant author! I can’t wait for her third book, which will be a more direct sequel to Wicked Lovely.