Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ink Exchange

By Melissa Marr. This is not a sequel to Wicked Lovely, just a sideways "companion novel." (I dislike this term because it is longer and more awkward than "sequel", although not as long and awkward as "another novel set in the same universe but focused on different characters which may or may not occur chronologically later in time than the first.")

Very dark and highly emotional, this is undeniably a book about dealing with bad situations: rape, addiction, the shame that comes afterwards, as if it's somehow the victim's fault. (See also Believing bad times equals bad us (Stuff Christians Like).) Kudos to Marr for dealing with these issues in a straightforward way. The book feels very honest.

Moreover, it made me think about my objections to the first book regarding Ash's lack of volition in her situation: while I feel that anything bad that happens to someone in a book should come as a result of their own choices, however uninformed (isn't this traditional for main characters in fairy stories? to say nothing of the hapless people who are turned into frogs and fish), and Ash's life changes without any such choice on her part, Leslie does make choices that, in retrospect, she shouldn't have made. That doesn't mean she deserves what happens to her.

What I do object to is the way humans are like underpeople in this book: Marr makes the faeries so powerful it is impossible, or nearly so, for humans to stand up to them. Why should a fairy king be magically immune to all "lesser" beings?

Recommended with the caveat that these are heavy issues. I consider this book significantly better than her first: the answers don't come nearly as easily.

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