Series: LIVING INK
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy UF
Ratings: Violence—4; Sensuality—3; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: Intermix Books (Penguin)
Nightmare Ink (4/2014, e-book only)
Novel 2 (11/2014)
As the series opens, Steve and his team bring Isa a man who is losing control of his Living Ink creature—a dragon. By the time that Isa gets the man on into her warded studio, the dragon has taken control, ripping free of the man's body and escaping out into the world. The search for the murderous dragon forms the backbone of the plot. Each time the dragon kills someone, the local AMBI officer, Anne Macquarie, drags Isa to the crime scene in an attempt to track it down.
By this time, Isa has figured out that Daniel is responsible for the dragon and its murderous journey through the city, but now she has to deal with her own Live Ink creature, whom she nicknames Murmur because he incessantly talks inside her head, mostly spewing hateful, derogatory threats about how he plans to destroy her soul and take over her body. A problem that emerges at this point is that the author provides no print clues as to when Isa is speaking internally to her beast and when she is speaking aloud. Murmur's speeches are italicized, but Isa's internal dialogue is not. From this point on, the plot follows two story lines: the Seattle PD's search for Daniel and the dragon and Isa's attempts to coexist with her new inner beast.
Although Daniel is the villain, his true motivations are never made clear—at least not to me. What started him on his dark quest for power? Exactly why is Isa so important to him? Who is it that Isa sees looking out of Daniel's eyes? Is he possessed by Live Ink, or by something else?
Steve's character—the stereotypical hard-working, frustrated cop—is O.K. until he begins expecting things from Isa that don't jibe with their past relationship. For example, he makes a big deal of the fact that she never told him the tragic facts of her miserable childhood, but they don't appear to have had a relationship close enough for her to bare her soul to him. That's what makes their single bedroom scene so ludicrous and gratuitous. There's no lead in to the scene—no romantic looks or flirty remarks—and there's no follow-up—no discussion or change in their behavior towards one another after the deed is done.
Murmur became my favorite character as he slowly changed his attitude toward Isa and her human world, although his huge emotional turn-around in the climactic showdown scene at the end was implausibly abrupt.