Review: Ink and Shadows by Rhys Ford


Ink and Shadows
Rhys Ford
Rating: A-

What I’m Talking About:

Beautiful and alone (and most likely insane), Kismet understands exactly why he doesn’t belong anywhere. Having a childhood scarred by loss and neglect, combined with the ability to see the dark things that lurk in the shadows, hasn’t made him fit for anything but his own solitude. Yet, when the impossible happens, and he’s caught in the middle of a fight between immortals, Kismet not only gains an unlikely ally, but the deepest friendship he’s ever known.

As Pestilence, the youngest of the Four Horsemen, Mal gets that he has a lot to learn. Still, it would be nice if the other Horsemen understood him a little better. The simple truth is that he just doesn’t feel like he belongs. But, when an unknown force threatens the boundary between mankind and the creatures that hunt them, the Four discover that a very special human is the key to unraveling the mystery, and, for the first time, Mal finds something that’s truly worth fighting for.

When I saw Ink and Shadows, the first in a new paranormal series by Rhys Ford, in a list of upcoming releases, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a twist on the Four Horsemen. The blurb and cover were enough to further pique my interest, but after hearing what else was said about Ink and Shadows, my curiosity increased exponentially. I’ve never reviewed a title that came with a disclaimer from the publisher about the things the novel isn’t before. A suspense story with LGBTQ characters, but no promise of a “happily ever after?” Count me in!

The author has attempted an expansive undertaking that covers all kinds of phenomena and myths—from Vices and Virtues to the Sidhe courts of the Fae, and, most especially, to the Four Horsemen themselves. Saying that nothing is as it seems in Ink and Shadows is an understatement, but attempting to explain the intricacies of the story in detail would give too much away. The world Ms. Ford has created is complicated and richly textured, and learning about it through the eyes of the characters was an enormously satisfying part of reading the book in the first place.

While it isn’t a romance, Ink and Shadows is certainly not devoid of romantic moments. In fact, the novel’s treatment of intimacy, in its many different forms, provided some of my favorite scenes. The personal interactions between all of the central characters are a key component of narrative’s overall success, and I particularly enjoyed the overt distinction made between intimacy and sex, which is quantified differently in this story. Rather, Ink and Shadows explores a myriad of relationships, none of which are static, but continually push and shift as the circumstances around them change.

As a suspense, this story absolutely delivers, and watching the tug-of-war going on between the characters while time quickly expired caused lots of tension-filled page turning. I did find that the graphic descriptions of some of the creatures and what they were capable of doing were some of the most difficult parts of Ink and Shadows for me to get through. These manifestations are horrific, but Kismet sees living nightmares every single day, and making them more palatable wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. In fact, all of the brutality of the Horsemens’ world felt necessary in order to show just how close to the edge the humans in this narrative really are.

Although I don’t get to read this genre as often as I’d like, I enjoyed Ink and Shadows tremendously, and will definitely be keeping up with this series from now on. Overall, I found it to be wonderfully imaginative and original, and the main characters impossible to dismiss. Kismet and Mal are both complex as well as endearing, and since I can’t decide whom I like better, I’ll just have to love them both. While it was occasionally vicious, this story was refreshingly unexpected, and I have high hopes for those to follow. If Ink and Shadows is anything to go by, the rest of the series should be quite a ride.

My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot


About the Book:

Kismet Andreas lives in fear of the shadows.

For the young tattoo artist, the shadows hold more than darkness. He is certain of his insanity because the dark holds creatures and crawling things only he can see—monsters who hunt out the weak to eat their minds and souls, leaving behind only empty husks and despair.

And if there’s one thing Kismet fears more than being hunted—it’s the madness left in its wake.

The shadowy Veil is Mal’s home. As Pestilence, he is the youngest—and most inexperienced—of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, immortal manifestations resurrected to serve—and cull—mankind. Invisible to all but the dead and insane, the Four exist between the Veil and the mortal world, bound to their nearly eternal fate. Feared by other immortals, the Horsemen live in near solitude but Mal longs to know more than Death, War and Famine.

Mal longs to be… more human. To interact with someone other than lunatics or the deceased.

When Kismet rescues Mal from a shadowy attack, Pestilence is suddenly thrust into a vicious war—where mankind is the prize, and the only one who has faith in Mal is the human the other Horsemen believe is destined to die.

Release Date: July 7, 2015
DSP Publications
Ink and Shadows #1
ISBN: #978-1634760171
paperback (304 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher

Purchase Info:
Ink and Shadows (Ink and Shadows #1)

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