#SPFBO 8 Between Ink and Shadows (Between Ink and Shadows #1) by Melissa Wright : Review

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What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

Between ink

Today I am posting the fourth of five reviews for the books that I rolled forward (see my feedback posts for batch No.12 and 3).  All told I carried forward five books, The Hidden Blade by Marie M. Mullany, The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce, Scarlight by Evid Marceau, Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson and over the next few days I will review each book in the order I read them.

So, without further ado here’s my review for Between Ink and Shadows (Between Ink and Shadows #1) by Melissa Wright:

Between Ink and Shadows is a book that took me by surprise in a good way. This is quite a short read and described as fantasy romance I wondered whether it would work it’s magic on me as neither short books or romance are usually my ‘go to’.  As it happens I was quite happy to be proved wrong.

Imara is a kingdom divided.  On the one hand we have the King, ruling the kingdom and declaring the use of magic illegal, meanwhile, beneath the city streets we have the Trust who make a living in its use.  The magic within these pages is dark and menacing.  The Trust is all about power, they use betrayal, cohesion and blackmail to swell their ranks luring people in with the promise of power, wealth, beauty, etc, and then keep them indefinitely bound using blood contracts and threats.  As the story begins we meet Nim, she is owned by the Trust, repaying a debt incurred by her father.  Each month she pays a tithe and each month she is given another job to undertake on their behalf.  Her latest job involves stealing from the castle itself, from the King’s closest advisor, Warrick Spenser, the King’s Seneschal.  When she’s caught she has only two options – go to jail,stand trial and face the possibility of hanging, or save her skin and become an agent for the Seneschal.

Okay, so straight to what I enjoyed with this one.  Well, I’m not going to deny that there is quite a blatant,not to mention fast moving, clear as the nose on your face romance that you can see, even from the far reaches of deepest space, is inevitable.  As soon as Nim and Warrick meet, as sure as eggs is eggs these two are a dead cert.  There it is,no point in beating about the bush. Now, I’ll be honest, this would normally put me off a little, in my defense (as mentioned) romance isn’t my first choice of book to pick up (I ain’t judging) although I don’t mind a light touch as long as it’s not the full story.  So, I was wrong (unfortunately this seems to be happening more often that I’d like of late) because whilst, yes, this is a romance, it’s also a lot more. In fact, considering the length of this book I’m surprised at just how much the author has managed to cram into the book.

The world building in some respects is light. For example, I would be hard pressed to tell you anything of Imara.  Going off the way Nim travels about so easily it feels like a tiny place, there really isn’t a feeling of scope.  I’d also be hard pressed to pin a feel for period on this although there are some pointers, such as the wearing of trousers being highly irregular for a lady and it feels like a place that has a certain level of social conventions implied rather than outright stated.  I think I only have a loose understanding of the magic. We have a ‘dark queen’ who has strong magic – I’m not sure why some people had magic in the first place but apparently this can only be inherited.  Other people use the magic of the Trust by striking a bargain, unfortunately these bargains are rarely what they seem.  They’re always loaded in the Trust’s favour – in fact the Trust reminded me a little of the fae, tricksy and you need to be careful with the wording.  Basically be careful what you wish for because whatever it is that becomes important to you is going to be the very thing that is taken as payment. No magic without sacrifice.

There are a fairly small, easy to keep track of, cast of characters.  Lady Nimona Weston, daughter of Bancroft Weston, now fallen from grace. Nim spends the early hours of the night dressed as a thief, sneaking through the city streets and taking trinkets from people to lure them into the Trust’s web. Warrick, the mind candy, works for the King rounding up illegal users – but he’s keeping some pretty hefty secrets.  We have a few people helping Nim such as Allister the valet,Alice the maid, Margery the best friend. And Wesley, who works for Warrick as a messenger- I can’t deny they’re a likable bunch.  And, of course, Warrick’s nemesis, Calum.  Son of the dark queen.  He collects people and he and his mother are ambitious, maybe no longer content with the confines of their underworld.

So, I found myself with a whole host of questions as the story developed and to be fair, I found that these were answered by the conclusion together with a clear opening for book 2 which I would certainly like to pick up.

In terms of criticisms. This won’t come as a surprise to some people who have heard me bang on relentlessly about short books – I wanted more. I mean on the one hand, and considering the length the author succeeds in making you want to keep reading on into the early hours.  On the other hand, I think this could quite easily have included an extra 100 pages without any detriment in fact it would have helped to develop the characters and place – okay, it wouldn’t be quite as punchy – but, just more.

I received a copy from the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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