Angel's Ink: The Asylum Tales
by Jocelynn Drake
Cover Artist: Don Sipley
Review by Mel Jacob
Harper Voyager Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062117854
Date: 16 October 2012 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Angel's Ink begins a new urban fantasy series for Jocelyn Drake, the Asylum Tales. Her Dark Days series featured vampires. The new series focuses on warlocks and witches with assorted fantasy creatures such as elves, trolls, weres, vampires, and ogres.
Gage Powell, a failed warlock, exiled from the Ivory Towers with a prohibition against using magic except for self-defense, struggles to survive among humans. Warlocks and witches are feared and hated, and Gage takes care to conceal his abilities. He operates a tattoo parlor with the help of a beautiful elf and a brute of a troll. All three are skilled tattooists.
The warlock Simon, Gage's old nemesis, has regained strength after the disastrous battle with him that caused Gage's exile. Now, he seeks to destroy Gage once and for all. However, if Gage succeeds in destroying Simon, he condemns himself to death.
Gage also tattooed a nasty client with a supposed good luck tattoo, but it went wrong and now the man insists Gage fix it, but he refuses. The man attacks him, and Gage uses magic to defend himself. However, his parole officer, the warlock Gideon, tells him he went too far.
Then a young woman dying of cancer seeks his help, and he gives her a tattoo of angel wings on her back with an ingredient he has never used. The unintended consequence of this makes her immortal and causes the grim reaper to demand either Gage make her mortal again or take her place.
Having no idea how to accomplish this, Gage seeks help from his old mentor, Sparks, and others. Eventually, he learns of a possible antidote, but to get it, he must die.
Drake adds other complications with werewolves, the local mob headed by a dark elf, and his girlfriend's elfin relatives. His friends do what they can to help him. He also contacts an old friend, a witch in the form of cat--perhaps a motif from J.K. Rowling.
It's not often I have two books to review the same month with such striking similarities. Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead and Jocelyn Drake's Angelís Ink are both urban fantasies. Gladstone follows a female magic user while Drake uses a warlock. Both involve magic abilities. Gladstone's Tara Abernathy is cast out of the Hidden School for craft workers while Drakeís Gage Powell is exiled from the Ivory Towers, schools for witches and warlocks. In both cases their mentors have become powerful enemies intent on their destruction.
Both authors are accomplished writers and create interesting characters and relationships. In these novels, the protagonists suffer a lot of physical damage. Drake's new series features sex and romance and will appeal to those who like romantic urban fantasies; Gladstone concentrates on an innovative world. As fantasies go, Gladstone's world building is the better of the two.