Monday, April 23, 2018

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst Review

Title: Inkmistress
Author: Audrey Coulthurst
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Of Fire and Stars, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Audrey Coulthurst caught my eye last year with her lovely, romantic slow burn of a debut, Of Fire and Stars. So when I found out that she was writing a new novel, set in the same world but taking place hundreds of years before, I was so excited. It’s been sitting in the library pile for a while now, and when I realized I couldn’t renew it, I pushed it to the top of the stack, and I’m so happy I did. Honestly, I liked Inkmistress better than I liked Of Fire and Stars; the worldbuilding was much clearer and concise. If you like your fantasies with diverse characters, romance, action, magic, mysterious secrets and political intrigue, go pick up this book, I can promise you won’t regret it. Easily one of my favorite books of 2018 and the best book of the duo, in my opinion. Asra and her journey will stay with me forever, engraved on my heart.

Asra is a lonely and powerful demigod, blessed (or cursed, depending on whom you ask) with the power to change the future by writing the outcome in her own blood. Longing to be part of the valley community below her, she wishes that she knew more: about her god parentage, about the outside world, and what love truly feels like. When her lover, Ina, returns to the mountain for a long-awaited reunion, Asra feels as if the missing parts of her life are gone. But when Ina begs for help, Asra reluctantly uses her power, not realizing that this small favor will change her life forever. Desperate for revenge against a corrupt king, Ina delves into forbidden blood magic to get her way, even if it means sacrificing Asra for the outcome. But what she doesn’t know is that Asra herself is behind the slaughter. Forced to face her mistakes and attempt to make things right, she leaves her solitude behind on the mountain and is thrown into a dangerous web of political intrigue, lies, magic, and secrets. Asra must discover who she really is and what she’s capable of, or risk losing everything she’s gained…

This book was so wonderful! Due to time constraints, I almost shelved it and returned it to the library. I’m so glad that I didn’t. I loved Of Fire and Stars, but Inkmistress was even better. The worldbuilding was more clearly explained, and the pacing was breakneck; I was immediately drawn into Asra’s dangerous, magical world, entranced by her voice. I loved her as a character; she was biracial and bisexual, and it was so exciting to see a main character with those characteristics. I loved how brave, feisty, and relatable she was. My heart broke for her as I followed her on her journey from her lonely mountain out into the big, wide world. I loved her character development, it was so refreshing. She transformed from a meek, uncertain young woman into a heroine in her own right, and it was so cool to see. I also really liked Ina and the foil she provided for Asra’s character, though there were many times when I had to put the book down due to pure rage. The other characters, especially Hal, were standouts, and I liked the series of quests that Asra went through to discover herself. And that ending! It was so satisfying and tied up all of the loose ends that lingered. Inkmistress stole my heart and bewitched my imagination, and as such, became one of my favorite books of 2018! The bottom line: Set in the same world as her debut, Of Fire and Stars, but taking place hundreds of years before, I loved Inkmistress! It contained all of my favorite things about fantasy: forbidden romance, magic, political intrigue, danger, and strong characters, especially Asra! Next on deck: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan!

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