Book Review #86 – Dark Ink

A thousand hungry mouths, tainted with his blood – Gary Kemble.

This book has kindly been gifted to me by Titan Books with no obligation to review. Opinions, as always, are honest and my own.

Deeply disturbing from the very first page. I was squeamish, my skin crawling, as I read the words that made me nearly bork in public. This book is not for the faint-hearted and is the perfect mix of mystery, voodoo and suffocating darkness for this time of year.

Dark Ink centres on Australian journalist Harry Hendrick. He saved Brisbane with the words he printed in his article and he survived a crazy freak accident that saw his tattoos stripped by lightning. His survival, as fate so happens, is for a purpose. Harry finds himself entangled in yet another mystery, something nobody can quite explain because it goes beyond the facts and reality of the earth. As he falls deeper and deeper into the web of lies, deceit and witchcraft, he loses himself and those he cares about most.

This is a sequel to Gary Kemble’s debut Strange Ink and I can guess that ink is the running theme of this duology (I’m unsure as to whether it will become a trilogy in the near future). Ink reflects Harry Hendrick’s job: he is a writer in the journalistic nature. Ink also refers to the stubborn tattoo that won’t budge from his neck, and it could illustrate the darkness that lurks inside of the victims as they adhere to the woman who whispers to them in aid of sacrifices for the goddess. I didn’t read the first book, and I don’t believe that you need to in order to understand the plot and the character in Dark Ink. There was a moment where I had to backtrack a little and re-read a couple of pages to fully understand Harry’s back story: the basic plot of Strange Ink captured in just a few paragraphs. And, as I already know the outcome of that story, I doubt I’ll be reading the full book any time soon.

The prologue of Dark Ink had me hooked. I almost didn’t want to continue reading it because it was completely dark, ghoulish and quite frankly, a little scary. But then, the story – I feel – lost its way a little bit. The horror turned to erotica. I understand the reason behind this, that the victims were so incapable of hitting that peak of pleasure due to the grasp that the “goddess” had over them, but I think it could have been done in a less smutty way. I didn’t need to relive the same problem over and over until Harry got his fill. Nevertheless, that hook from the first few pages was still in my skin because I wanted to know the what, the who and the why.

The thing I enjoyed most about the story was the reason behind all of this horror, murder and witchcraft. I am a sucker for finding out the reason why murderers commit their crimes, why this person had the desire to kill and what kind of life they could have possibly had to lead them along this dark, grimy path. The links were all tied into neat little knots by the end of the book and because I knew the reason why and that it was a good reason, I felt satisfied with all the wrongdoings that the narrative had played beforehand i.e. the over-excessive crudeness. In hindsight, I did expect something a little darker, a little less human, but as this book so correctly illustrates: the darkest of crimes are committed by a human hand.

All in all, I’m glad I read this book. It set off the tone for Halloween season and allowed me to reminisce the stormy days in Australia too.

Love, Faye xo

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