Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5
While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.
Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.
When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.
I am always enthusiastic about the stories that flow out of the mind of author Alex Hall because I know the tales will be imaginative, with twists and turns, marvelous characters with attention to details in personality and background, and as it demonstrated here, a fabulous ability to deliver a world of magic realism so very believable that i fell into it from the first page.
Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is a story that builds slowly as we get to know the characters and the world they now inhabit, one that changed drastically within their own lifetimes. Changing their worlds and in some cases themselves fundamentally. It’s a story revealed in pieces, pulled back in layers, as the current days events take place and our characters rush forward towards mysteries and crises that will have permanent impact on everyone.
The people encountered from the focal person of famous tattoo artist Hemingway are as incredibly complex as Hemingway is.. That extends to the roles they may play in Hemingway’s life, which may change direction or impact in a blink. Who is trustworthy and who is not is always up for discussion. Throw in the hunt for a gruesome killer, Jack the Ripper, along with other mysteries, and you have a gripping thriller with tiny hints of a possible future romance and an open ended future for all.
And that is the only thing that keeps this book from five stars. The air of expectation for something more at the end. A need for continuing on, that so much remains to be done or is left to be finished for everyone here. I almost felt as though we were at 3/4 th of the story or perhaps that I should be able to sail quickly onto another book. I was most not ready to leave this world and characters behind.
Love magic realism? In need of a great new story to read? I highly recommend Earnest Ink by Alex Hall. I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives, and hoping that Hall will return to them once more for an update.
Cover art: Natasha Snow. A beautiful cover with a major element towards the ending.
Published October 14th 2019 by NineStar Press
Edition Language English