ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Okay, real quick, I’m going to do a little PSA, since I think a lot of you might need it:
Bisexuals who are with boys are still bisexual. Bisexuals who are with girls are still bisexual. Bisexuals who are with people who identify as nonbinary are still bisexual. Bisexuals who have never been with anyone are still bisexual.
And the fact that I still have to say this, in 2018, is why Inkmistress is now one of my favorite YA Fantasies of all time. We need books, of all genres, that normalize sexuality in every aspect. But you all might not realize how rare it is to read a book about a bisexual girl ending up with a boy and still seeing her bisexuality beautifully on display. This book moved me to tears. And I believe with my whole heart that this book is going to be one of my all-time favorites.
“You would never hurt anyone on purpose, Asra, and that is both your strength and your weakness.”
Inkmistress follows one of my new favorite protagonists, Asra, who lives her life secluded away in the mountains. She lives her life in hiding, only traveling down to the village below when weather permits it, to help them with births and other medicinal needs. Yet, some people still view her as a witch. But what Asra really is is so much more powerful.
Asra has the power to change the future, present, and past with her blood. Yet, at a cost. To be able to wield such power, it takes from her lifeforce and ages her. But we soon learn that there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for a girl who has accepted her when no one else has.
Also in this world, people come into adulthood when they are able to manifest, or bond with an animal by being blessed by the six gods that truly do control this world. Obviously, some animals are more powerful than others, but the most important thing is to just be able to manifest.
Asra feels like she has no other choice but to grant the girl, who she loves more than anything in this world, her wish: to finally manifest. And manifest Ina does. Into something more powerful than Asra imaged. Unfortunately, it is not the happiest of celebrations, because Asra learns again that it is a very scary thing to wish for something, and there will always be consequences of shaping the future.
From there we are sent on a journey and an adventure, where Asra is trying to do the right thing, while also trying to learn who and what she really is. And I promise, it is nothing short of amazing. And we get to meet so many wonderful side characters. Even though I’m very biased towards Hal, who is a PoC who stole my heart completely. I instantly loved him. And let me tell you, the Romance in this book is everything I’ve ever wanted in my life, seriously.
“Love was the way he made me laugh when I least thought it possible, and the way our voices came together to sing a tavern song inappropriate for most company. Love was the way he kissed me until I knew without doubt that anywhere he was would be home.”
This book has such an important discussion on unconditionally love, and how you are always worthy and deserving of it. We see unapologetic heartbreak in this book, and it’s not easy to read, but it’s so important to read. Very rarely is your first love your only love, and sometimes you figure that out in a very hurtful way. And just in general, nothing hurts worse than when someone you love hurts you, betrays you, or chooses to not love you anymore. Learning that it is okay to love again, and that you are worthy of love, is something that so many people struggle with, myself included. And in case you need a reminder, from a random book reviewer: You are deserving of love, always and forever, you are deserving of love.
“In these dark and lonely moments, did she think of me as I thought of her?”
And I see people saying this feels info-dumpy? But I honestly didn’t feel like that at all. Maybe it is because I read so much Adult High and Epic Fantasy? But I easily understood and fell in love with the world and the world building. I thought it was super easy to understand, yet I was completely mesmerized at every new development. Like, I truly think this world was close to perfect in my eyes.
And this is completely irrelevant to my rating, but I still have to shout it from the rooftops: This book has one of my all time favorite names! And you all know I’ve read a lot of books, and this was the first time I have ever seen it printed in a story. And I’m not that big of a tease to not tell you all; the name is Garen, and I first fell in love with it back 2011 when I first installed League of Legends. Well, it’s 2018 and it is still my all-time favorite, so I couldn’t resist gushing. Also, to further prove that the universe perfectly aligned to put this book into my hands.
And this book is truly a blessing. It had everything I like to see in my Fantasy: Girls with hidden powers, blood magic, herbal healing, gods, tyrant kings, traveling from city to city, secret societies, swoon-worthy romance, friendship, motherhood, twists, turns, betrayals, and… dragons. Honestly, I know I’m not even near considered a teen anymore, but I feel like I was completely targeted by this book. And I think so many of my Adult Fantasy reader friends would love this one, too.
The writing is beautiful, the journey and adventure were perfection, the messages are so important. I was living for the feministic themes, I was swooning over the romance, I was crying over the reveals. I will carry this story with me forever, I will recommend this story to every fantasy lover I ever meet, I will always consider myself blessed to have been privileged enough to open this book.
The only negative thing I can even think of saying is that I’m kicking myself that I haven’t read Of Fire and Stars yet. I feel like this book did such a wonderful job hinting at what is to come, and I am so excited. I am 100% obviously telling you that you can read this first and completely enjoy the story, but I bet you’d get a lot of enjoyment if you have read Of Fire and Stars.
Overall, this was everything to me. It means more to me than I can say, or any word combination my fingers could type for you. I loved this. I truly loved this with the sum of my being. And the more I think about it, the more I fall in love with it. I just hope you all give it a try and fall in love with it, too.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Buddy read with Jules! ❤