Dana reviews Ink and Shadows (Ink and Shadows book 1) by Rhys Ford (Published by DSP Publications, July 7, 2015, 285 pages)
Why I read this: I will read anything by Rhys Ford whether it’s LGBT fiction, paranormal gay romance, or a mystery/thriller. I love it when she blends the genres into one very interesting world.
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
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.
As I said above, I am a big Rhys Ford fan, and will read anything she writes. She tells amazing stories, with sometimes sickeningly graphic descriptions of violence. Normally, I would say that turns me off a book, but her stories are so good, that it is easy to keep reading through the darker parts. Though most of the books I’ve read from her have been in the m/m romance genre, this is less romance, and more LGBT fiction. Set in modern day San Diego, one mc lives in a contemporary life, though a sad one. Alone except for ghosts and the shadows that try to consume him, Kismet is addicted to heroin in order to drive the insane visions away.
Inside this world is a veil that hides the fae, trolls, wraiths, and the immortal embodiments of the Four Horsemen as well as many others. This world was particularly fascinating to me. Not only did Death, Famine, War, and Pestilence live there, but the incarnations of the seven deadly sins, and characters like Peace, Faith, Charity, and Hope. There could be more, but these are at least the ones mentioned in this particular story. I expected to not be a big fan of the Four Horsemen. Maybe I’d get an understanding, but I didn’t believe I would like them. However I found myself very surprised to be rooting for them. The author created a flip flop world where Death was kind, War could love, Mal (Pestilence) experienced loneliness, and Famine was kind of a badass, while Faith and Charity had none.
And though I said it wasn’t a romance, it didn’t mean that there weren’t very real feelings between the characters, as a sort of side story. War harbored a unrequited love for Death who seemed fearful of returning the feelings. Mal found a kindred spirit in Kismet as well. The two barely kiss in the story so it’s unclear how their relationship might develop in the future books of this series, but they have a comfortableness with each other. They make each other feel a little less alone in the world. I can’t wait to see what does happen in the next book, especially with a bitter rival out to end the old elements.