My Review: Indelible is a refreshing YA paranormal romance that is reminiscent of the dark original fairy tales. I could tell by the book blurb that Dawn Metcalf was going to give us something different and when it comes to the original concept of Indelible she doesn't disappoint.
There is a world known as the Twixt, a place that cannot be seen by the human eye. Ink (our hero/anti-hero) and Inq (his sister) are scribes, created not born. They were made with the sole purpose of marking humans with the signatura of their fae counterparts. I was captivated with some of the mythology and world building. I liked how Ink would take Joy with him when he was called to do a task and found it neat how he would use his tools to "cut" an invisible slit in the air that once opened, became a gateway to another world or dimension.
While Joy wasn't my favorite heroine in recent YA literature, she...
had a few unique qualities about her that set her apart from other stereotypical lead female characters. For example, Joy isn't your social outcast or extremely shy type that is the norm lately in YA lit. In fact, the first time we meet her is at a dance club with her best friend. And get this: she actually wanted to go. So it wasn't the case of the wild best friend who had to beg her to go with her as we see over and over again in YA novels. Joy actually enjoys dancing at the club and doesn't appear to be prudish. I give the author credit for trying to give us a different kind of heroine.
It's undeniable that Ink is one sexy, dark character. He is quite mysterious, with his all black eyes, lack of emotion, and sexy name. I even liked his chain wallet that held the instruments he would use to ink others. When we first meet him, he tries to kill/blind Joy at the club because no human is supposed to be able to actually see his kind. Instead, he ends up leaving his mark on her which generates all sorts of scary situations for Joy. But as they spend more time together, we learn that Ink and his sister Inq were created, not born. Over the centuries and in order to adapt to the times, his sister felt the need for them to start blending in which is why they took on a more humanly form. As Joy starts to become more comfortable with Ink, she notices odd things about his appearance, such as him not having fully formed ears, or a belly button. While Inq, his twin, appears to have all her parts in order, the reason Ink doesn't is quite clear: he hadn't found the need to be around humans like his sister, much preferring the distance. Until Joy, that is. Joy makes him start to feel human and begins to experience human emotions, such as curiosity and self awareness once she points out he is missing some physical traits.
I enjoyed watching the evolution of Ink and there were many parts of the book where Ink reminded me of Edward in the movie Edward Scissorhands. Both characters were isolated from human contact and were physically "unfinished" in some way. And when it comes to protecting the one they love? When Joy is hurt and branded by Briarhook, we see a different side of Ink. He comes back covered in blood and at first Joy thinks he has killed Briarhook, therefore reverting back to a creature with no emotions or remorse. But when given the chance, he explains he did not kill Briarhook. Instead, Ink ripped out his heart and locked it in a box so that Briarhook would always be beholden to him. He tells Joy that when he learned she was in trouble and had been hurt, he felt a pain in his chest for the first time in his existence and he wanted to know how to make it stop. She explains that it doesn't work that way, that when you care about someone, their pain becomes your pain. Since Ink couldn't take away the pain in his chest, he took Briarhook's heart. It may be romantic in a creepy way but it also shows how much Ink has grown since meeting Joy.
Graus Claude, known as the Bailiwick and the mediator between worlds, was also an interesting character. He is this huge toad with 4 arms that dresses in suits and has his own office. I find Graus Claude fascinating because who would have thought a toad could be intimidating?
Here is what I had issues with. I can't deny the originality of the story and Indelible is extremely written. But somewhere along the way it loses steam. While the author did a great job with setting up some of the mythology and new world, there were parts that became confusing, such as the politics in the Twixt. There were parts in the middle to the end of the novel that could have been cut down so that she could focus on developing this strange, new world.
I was also bothered by the villain of the novel, Aniseed. I'm a firm believer that villains play a huge role in the dynamic of a story and if you have a weak villain or a villain that isn't fully developed, it effects the story. Aniseed was downright boring!
My one major problem is when Ink lets Joy try to "ink" someone. I feel this is not only totally out of character but also unrealistic. The author makes it a point throughout the novel to enforce how important Ink and Inq's job is and how one simple screw up could cost them their very existence, hence the reason Ink covers up his mistake with Joy by calling her his lehman. We also see how desperate/anxious Ink was to have his wallet back after he had Joy hold it because the tools inside are his life. So it makes no sense that he would so easily hand over his job and risk his existence if she should make the slightest mistake. I get why the author added it in since what they discover during her lesson plays out later in the novel. But I think the author could have found a more solid way to discover Joy's "powers."
Lastly, I'm not going to lie. I was a bit creeped out at Ink's physical transformation. At the beginning of the story, he has no knuckles, no fingernails, no nipples and his ears aren't formed. At first I was okay with Ink's subtle changes as he spends time with Joy. For example, he changes his ears to look like hers and the scene leading up to it was erotic, sexy, beautiful, and romantic. I thought to myself, okay, no big deal, it's an ear. But what started creeping me out is when Ink changes his hands to look exactly like hers as well. Umm, Joy is a girl, Ink is a guy. Girl/boy hands are different. So does that mean Ink has female looking hands? What's next, is he going to look at her nipples and model his after hers??? It's one thing if he looked at her parts to get a general idea as to how things looked. But to model body parts EXACTLY like hers can lead into potential problems. I think Joy is better off going to a book store and buying Ink a human body book or taking him to a nude art class, etc. I really hate to sound so gender strict, like boys are supposed to look one way and girls are supposed to look another way. However, there is a sequel in the works and if Ink keeps modeling body parts after Joy's...unless that is the direction the author is intentionally going in? I guess we shall see!
Indelible by Dawn Metcalf is a unique addition to the YA paranormal genre. I like that Metcalf was trying to give us something different and enjoyed the concept overall. However, some of the mythology suffered since she spent so much time expanding on other parts of the book when her focus should have been on further character development, a clearer explanation of Twixt politics (since they do spend quite a bit of time in that world), and giving us a more fearsome villain. Since there was no major cliffhanger, I'm not sure if I will be picking up book 2. I guess it depends on how compelling the next storyline sounds.