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Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal

Updated: Jan 26

Ink in the Blood is a story which utilizes the age old trope of good versus evil, the gods versus the underworld, but with an incredibly unique spin!

Synopsis: In this tale, two seemingly different female deities - the Divine (good) and Diavala (evil) compete for souls using magical tattoos. Celia and her best friend Anya are Inklings. Inklings are humans chosen to carry the goddess’s magical ink in their blood, which they use to spread messages from the goddess. After living in the Temple of the Divine for 10 years, Celia and Anya begin to question their faith. When the opportunity to join a traveling circus troupe called The Rabble Mob presents itself , the two friends gladly escape temple life.

“The rabble mob showed us life - our desires, our fears - and at the end...death.”

They quickly learn that the Mob’s beliefs align with their own and Celia and Anya create a powerful show called The Devil in the Bell Jar. But the goddess is always lurking and waiting...

My thoughts and feelings:

The world Kim Smejkal creates is dark yet beautiful. Children choose their own names, and their own sexual orientation - and each is accepted by everyone else! The characters in the book all exude Tenors or “auras” in different colors tell what gender/sexual orientation that they associate with. The color of the Tenor alerts others as to what pronoun to use when referring to them. I loved this aspect of the book!

When I first read the description of this book, I was worried that the material would be too heavy - but it’s not. There are definitely some BIG themes running through these pages, and they are deeply thought provoking. But I found the world, the characters and the messages profoundly enjoyable. Especially the message, "Family is everything."

Smejkal’s writing is absolutely superb and all these heavy topics are presented in such a fantastic way as to be very enjoyable, indeed. I felt deeply connected to the characters and laughed with them, cried with and for them, was scared for them, and rooted for them. This is a book I need on my shelves! I need to be part of this - this is something big and worthy of sharing and discussing! I am looking forward to reading the next installment of this series.


Favorite Quotes: “The crooked path becomes light”

“ Inktrava sel Immorti: Always listen to the Ink.”

“Art is Art is Art. The heart makes meaning.”

"There's madness all around. It's inescapable."


Expected Publication Date: February 2020


Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group and Kim Smejkal for the ARC of Ink in the Blood in exchange for my honest review.

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