A strong debut that blends dark fantasy, ink magic, and theater.
When Celia was first chosen to be an inkling for the revered religion of Profeta, her mothers were delighted to give away their child to become a servant to the Divine. Using ink magic and tattoos to spread the Divine’s will to followers should have been an honor, but Celia and her best friend, Anya, soon learn that lies and torture are at the core of the corrupted religion. Ten years later Celia and Anya manage to escape the temple and join the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. But their happiness and freedom are curtailed when the Divine herself catches up with them, upending everything they thought they knew. Celia will do anything to keep Anya and her new friends safe. The novel examines faith and the power of propaganda in a somewhat convoluted plot that finds its footing toward the end. With a focus on its central platonic female friendship, it also features a well-developed and genuinely touching found family, a slow-burning romance, and the climax to a tragic tale of vengeance that is a thousand years in the making. Celia and Anya are white within a racially diverse world. Every character has a tenor, a visible aura that reflects their chosen, individual gender identity.
The promising first in a duology with inspiring friendships and original worldbuilding. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)