I came across Dawn Metcalf’s Livejournal a couple of years back and was intrigued by how quirky her books sounded. I read her first book, Luminous, soon after it came out. I felt about it much the same way I feel about Neil Gaiman’s books: stylistically beautiful, with very quirky, unique elements, though I wasn’t completely satisfied with how those elements came together. Still, I liked the book enough that I was really excited to snag a copy of Dawn Metcalf’s next book, Indelible, at BEA. (No, it’s not a sequel or a companion. Indelible is the beginning of a whole new series.)
Some things are permanent.
And they cannot be changed back.
Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.
Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future...and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.
Somewhere between reality and myth lies…
The strongest element of this book: The prose. The descriptions are beautiful and detailed, and Dawn Metcalf has a gift for choosing the perfect metaphors and similes. Take these: “Joy turned his words over like a snow globe in her head, her thoughts scattered and shaken” and “an unspooled ribbon of free fall.”
I was also blown away by the intimacy and the nature of the romance. Do you ever get sick of paranormal romances that leave you wondering why a powerful, supernatural hottie is so interested in an average human girl in the first place? Indelible avoids that trope by creating a sort of wisdom-balance between Joy and Ink. Ink, as the paranormal creature, knows all about the workings of the supernatural world, but he has very little understanding of humanity—that’s Joy’s territory. As a result, Ink has as much to learn from Joy as Joy has to learn from him. And the romantic development—yes, it’s fast, but it’s so well-crafted that there’s actually a sense of intimacy, not just obsession (though, not gonna lie, there is that, too).
Joy is a dynamic character and the story does a good job of incorporating her family situation and social life. (Though she is a bit on the whiny side.) The plot has a strong focus on Joy, Ink, and Inq, and while those elements come through successfully, I felt like I wasn’t seeing enough of everything else—specifically, the worldbuilding. We only saw scattered bits and pieces of the Twixt, and while those were cool, I never got a sense of the world as a whole. It would have been awesome to see the inner workings of Folk society and culture, for example. I also wanted a better understanding of the long-term consequences and significance of signaturae. There are a few occasions where we see people get marked, but beyond a brief explanation of why they are marked, we don’t learn anything else about those characters or how their lives are changed by Folk interference. This is especially important, since the plot centers on signaturae. Also, there’s one scene where an unimportant character is being marked because she lost her virginity (her family has an ancient pact where women are “particularly gifted” but only while they remain pure.) While that scene does a good job of showing the problems with inter-generational vows, the fact that Joy doesn’t seem to take any offense might cause this scene to be construed as slut-shaming.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the first book in a series, so I’m hoping that the next book(s) will give readers a much broader view of the Twixt. I do plan on picking up the next one.
Indelible comes out July 30th.