Ink and Shadows

Title: Ink and Shadows
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Genre(s): Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 304
Reviewed by: Jewel
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5

Kismet Andreas lives in fear of the shadows.

For the young tattoo artist, the shadows hold more than darkness. He is certain of his insanity because the dark holds creatures and crawling things only he can see—monsters who hunt out the weak to eat their minds and souls, leaving behind only empty husks and despair.

And if there’s one thing Kismet fears more than being hunted—it’s the madness left in its wake.

The shadowy Veil is Mal’s home. As Pestilence, he is the youngest—and most inexperienced—of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, immortal manifestations resurrected to serve—and cull—mankind. Invisible to all but the dead and insane, the Four exist between the Veil and the mortal world, bound to their nearly eternal fate. Feared by other immortals, the Horsemen live in near solitude but Mal longs to know more than Death, War and Famine.

Mal longs to be… more human. To interact with someone other than lunatics or the deceased.

When Kismet rescues Mal from a shadowy attack, Pestilence is suddenly thrust into a vicious war—where mankind is the prize, and the only one who has faith in Mal is the human the other Horsemen believe is destined to die.

First, I need to say that is not a romance. Though we see the beginnings of a relationship between Death/Shi and War/Ari, we only see a hint of one between Pestilence/Mal and Kismet. There is no sex at all. The story focuses completely on the Horsemen solving the mystery of the Veil thinning and breaking and how Kismet plays into it all. I loved the story, and I cannot wait for next installment of it, though I hope some romance and smexytimes develop in there. But if you are expecting a romance, you will not find it here. However, if you like this author, and the lack of romance isn’t a hard limit for you, I think you will enjoy this story a lot.

I found the world building vivid and done very well. It was a bit gritty. The heroes in the book aren’t your normal, run of the mill heroes. We’re talking the Four Horsemen and a heroine addicted artist. I like the use of mythology in a paranormal book and I like how the heroes are so flawed.

Death is very introspective. He does not enjoy his job, at all, but he does it anyway. Someone needs to make sure the newly dead shed their mortal coil and go to the other side and since that is his calling, it is what he does. He is especially needed when a mass disaster strikes, and at those times, he is greatly troubled and left exhausted, War, conversely, loves his calling. He finds a good fight to be exhilarating and life affirming. War is also Death’s oldest and closest friend. War has been in love with Death for so long and though Death is reluctant to embark on a relationship, War is not discouraged.

The other two Horsemen, Famine (Min) and Pestilence (Mal) are fairly solitary. Mal, in particular, feels alone. He’s the youngest of the Horsemen and the least able to come out ahead in a fight. War is always poking fun at Pestilence and calling him things like Cooties, or Pest, or just plain useless. I felt bad for the guy, but I think War just wants to toughen him up.

And then there’s Kismet. He’s a heroine addicted artist, and sometimes tattoo artist. Kismet sees dead people. And shadows. And all manor of horrors. He uses the heroin to keep the shadows at bay. And that worked pretty well, until a “bad” batch of heroin makes it all worse, and Kismet finds himself in the middle of a battle he doesn’t want. And Mal takes a liking to Kismet and wants to protect him, but Kismet isn’t a trusting sort. Still, they are drawn to one another, and they save each others lives.

I’m really looking forward to reading more in this series. I want to know where the story will go. And, I do hope that there will eventually be a romance angle, but even if there isn’t, I’ll read it anyway. I want to know where they go and how they get there.

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Advanced Review Copy

ARC of Ink and Shadows provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Though not a romance, I really enjoyed the world building and that the heroes were so flawed. There are no knights in shining armor here, just immortal beings with very mortal flaws. I cannot wait until we get book 2!

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