Wednesday, March 13, 2013

He wanted a "13" but they gave him "31"

I'll preface this by stating that I have no tattoos, nor will I probably ever get ink done. Among other things, there's never been much that I've felt strongly enough about to permanently scar it on my body. On the other hand, I do enjoy seeing what other people get tattooed on themselves and I watch Ink Master on occasion.

Which brings us to the book of the evening: Angel's Ink by Jocelynn Drake, first in her Asylum Tales series.

The basic set up is that Gage runs a tattoo parlor (The Asylum) in a bad part of an unnamed town (Probably Cincinnati. Among other things, the author is in Covington, Kentucky, and one of the characters lives in a part of town referred to as "Over the Rhine"), assisted by Trixie (an elf with a past, usually disguised by a glamour) and Bronx (a troll who also has a past.) Gage is one of the few Warlocks to escape "The Ivory Tower", the ruling elite of Witches and Warlocks who tend to only get involved with humanity and other supernatural races only to crack down on the things they don't approve. (I'm sure a few of my friend would quibble with the titles, but it's her world, I just read about it.)

In a page straight out of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, we find out that Gage has a Warden named Gideon who's supposed to keep Gage from using magic for anything other than defensive purposes, punishable by being dragged before the Council for probable execution.

Anyway, the narrative ball starts rolling when Tara walks in to the shop. Tara is dying of cancer, has a very short time to live, and believes she's going to go to hell. As such, she asks Gage to tattoo her with angel wings. Now, given this is urban fantasy, Gage and his cohorts aren't normal tattoo artists. They use special ingredients to make the ink into potions that can rather enhance them. In the case of Tara's wings, he adds a tuft of a feather of an angel's wing to the potion.

Which is all well and good until a member of the Grim Reaper's local shows up and explains that this had the side effect of making Tara immortal. And if Gage can't fix this, the Union will be quite happy to collect Gage's soul in 3 days when Tara's time was to have come.

Add into this mix Gage's old mentor, Simon, coming back to try to kill Gage as an act of political house cleaning, the Summer Court of Fairy coming after Trixie, Lilith, a talking cat, the mob, the black market (including a guy who sounds like David Lo Pan in my head when I read his dialogue), and you have a fairly good yarn. While I think the series will improve over time, especially if the author doesn't keep inserting new plot threads every other chapter (so much going on...most of these would make awesome books in their own right as the characters develop), it is a bit rough trying to keep track of every addition to the cast.

Also, I'd point out I knew this was fantasy during the one big smut sequence about halfway through. Not only does the woman finish first (twice), but the man wants to cuddle and talk afterwards.