by Audrey Coulthurst
Published March 2018
As I mentioned on Friday, this book is the prequel to Of Fire and Stars, so I read it first, even though it was published second. I prefer to read in chronological order when I can.
Inkmistress follows Asra, a demigod of unknown parentage, as she first follows and then is chased by her lover-turned-dragon who is intent on vengeance for the destruction of her village. Her lover, Ina, is convinced it is the King’s fault that the village was destroyed, as he’s been letting bandits roam over the outer reaches of his kingdom unchecked. So after taking on the form of a dragon, she’s off to kill him to avenge her family. Asra is trying to talk Ina out of it, and chases her across the country, from their remote mountain to the inner forests and cities.
I really love Asra. Ina’s kind of a bitch, but Asra is loving and funny and just an awesome person, fighting to protect herself and those she loves, even as those she loves evolve and change past what she can hold onto. Her magic takes a terrible price if she uses it, both on her and on the rest of the world. She has to wrestle with so many unknowns – her parentage, her magic, the world off her mountain, politics, other demigods – and somehow she manages to land on her feet. (Though not without help!)
The romance is sweet, and I love the emphasis on chosen families. Both Asra and Ina appear to be bisexual, which also doesn’t appear to be unusual in this world. Reviews of Of Fire and Stars complain about the lack of worldbuilding, which is NOT a problem in this book. Perhaps I’ll have an easier time having read this book first; which is a bit of a problem – you shouldn’t have to read a prequel to understand the setting of the first book in a series! It does make me glad I’m reading them in this order, though.
I really loved this book. The urgency of the chase really came through in the story – Asra had to get to certain places and get certain things done before certain times, and obstacles thrown in her way made you worry she wouldn’t get things done in time. It was well-written, with good character development of Asra, at least, and great world-building.
From the cover of Inkmistress:
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 terribly, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.
A sweeping and romantic fantasy full of dangerous magic and dark choices, from the author of Of Fire And Stars.