Angel’s Ink (Asylum Tales #1) by Jocelynn Drake
Publisher: Harper Voyager/Oct. 16th, 2012
Kind thanks to Harper Voyager for providing a review copy
Buyer beware . . .
Looking for a tattoo—and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using unique potions—a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks—to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart’s desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment—execution—will be swift.
Though he’s tried to fly under the radar, Gage can’t hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead—or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage might just make it through this enchanted world alive.
After a tattoo gone wrong, Gage Powell finds himself at the receiving end of a gun barrel. Seems a good luck tattoo’s ingredients weren’t up to snuff, but it didn’t help that the customer wasn’t willing to shell out more than $50. A misfiring tattoo is bad enough, and after taking care of the disgruntled customer (with his fist), Gage is visited by his warden, Gideon, who is determined to catch Gage practicing unsanctioned magic. Gage left the life of an Ivory Tower warlock a long time ago, but he’s on probation, and if he gets caught using serious magic, the punishment will mean death. The fact that his old nemesis Simon Thorn is also on his trail is just icing. Simon considers Gage a blot and means to wipe the blot that is Gage out. Gage can hold his own, but is only able to use magic in self-defense, which isn’t always convenient. When he’s visited by a dying girl who wants a pair of wings tattooed on her back he decides to put “a little bit extra” in the tattoo, to simultaneously wonderful and disastrous effect.
Poor Gage. He just wants to live his life, run his tattoo shop, The Asylum, and work a little magic, preferably to help people, but the warlocks he does his best to avoid make his life a living hell, and he must find a way to correct the tattoo that was supposed to save a dying girl’s life, but ended up doing much more, or his very soul will be in jeopardy. He’s allowed to use magic in self defense, but never to kill, or he will lose a year of his life (which would be spent in the underworld and not without pain.)
Warlocks and witches are universally feared and he never wanted to be cruel and heartless like so many of his kind. He was taken away from his family at a very young age, when he began showing magical promise, and for their safety, hasn’t contacted them since. Makes for a pretty lonely existence, but it’s not all bad. For example, he has good friend in Bronx, the big hearted (and just plain big), troll that tattoos in his shop, and Trixie, the beautiful elf that’s hiding a secret of her own, and who he’s been nursing a crush on from the moment he laid eyes on her. All the magic in the world won’t save him if his friends get hurt because of him, and that severely hinders him in what he can and cannot do.
Gage reminds me a little bit of Harry Dresden, and although this isn’t (yet) quite as good as that series, it certainly shows promise. It’s always refreshing for me when we get a new male protagonist to root for in urban fantasy, and Low Town is a wonderful world to escape to for a while if you need to get your fix of fey, vampires, weres, etc. I enjoyed this first book in a new series, and the author also has e-shorts out about Bronx and Trixie if you’d like to know more about those characters. Gage is a great new UF voice, and his devotion to his friends (who he considers his family) is partly what makes this such a fun read. Fans of urban fantasy should enjoy this one, and will certainly look forward to the next installment.