Indelible by Dawn Metcalf – Advance Review


Book Jacket:

Some things are permanent.


And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room – right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world – a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one – his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future…and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…


You can read an excerpt here.


Strange, romantic, and at times fascinatingly grotesque, this book reads like a Guillermo del Toro version of Twilight – and that I really enjoyed.

So at first blush this all sounds like your standard paranormal YA package – girl meets mysterious boy, gets drawn into his strange, magical world – but this book, much like Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, brings a dark, disturbing edge to its proceedings, not to mention fabulous imagery and world-building, which imbue the traditional archetypes with a real originality – and all in all it was downright beguiling. Metcalf’s world, the Twixt, is fascinating, visually and politically, and I loved how over the course of the book Joy got ever more and more tangled up in the intrigue of the Twixt’s strange, inhuman society – and Metcalf never once let us forget how very inhuman that society is. The ugly, scary, and grotesque denizens of the Twixt that we come to know are downright phenomenal – again, it all reminds me very strongly of del Toro; there’s even a marvelously disgusting frog, just as in Pan’s Labyrinth – and they never let Joy forget her place in the Twixt’s pecking order, which is a status roughly equal to that of a gnat. All in all the danger in this story feels very real, and the sheer visual spectacle of it all is downright FANTASTIC, such that I really, really, really enjoyed exploring Metcalf’s world.

Now that said, still a setting can only do so much in terms of story – and while overall I enjoyed this book very much, I did find it a bit uneven in terms of pacing. The beginning in particular labors under the usual business of the genre – girls sees unexplainable and struggles to accept it – but on the flip side, I did really enjoy how honestly Joy reacted to her situation, and how believably she ran the gamut from fear, denial and panic to resolute coping to bravery, I just found myself getting a bit impatient with how long it took for her to get to the obvious conclusion. However, once Joy gets her head around it all, the story gets rolling along nicely, and despite some small lulls in tension, overall the plot builds well from there on out – particularly in terms of the mystery of all the goings on, things happening that are strange even for the Twixt; and I really, really liked how Joy was gutsy and proactive from that point on, and how she HELPS solve the mystery (head to brow, woe is me, the girl is not – which made me love her). So by and large, I did merrily race through this book until the end, it’s just that there were a few missteps along the way.

And now we’ve come to the romance. As I said above, Metcalf does bring a real sense of inhuman-ness to her Twixtians, and that very much includes Ink, the love interest. Ink is a fascinating character in that he’s mid-evolution; still adolescent, in a sense, despite his actual age, and emotionally even younger – and that child-like quality imbues him with an innocence and sweetness, despite his dangerous edge. It was very easy for me to see why Joy became fascinated with Ink, the bizarre, beautiful almost-boy, and I very much enjoyed how Ink was as helplessly lost in Joy’s world as she was in his – it made them equal partners, in a way (which made a nice change from the usual wise-boy-condescendingly-explains-all-to-hapeless-girl scenario). Actually I found myself thinking, tongue-in-cheek, that Joy really has found the perfect boy, because she gets to mold him (literally, with Ink’s magic) into exactly what she wants – which again is a brilliant inversion of the usual YA scenario of girl-changes-herself-so-beautiful-boy-will-like-her. All in all, I have to say the romance just worked for me – I thought it was sweet.

So in the end, yes, I really did enjoy this book. Dangerous, bizarre, and romantic, Indelible makes for a delicious paranormal read, and I for one can’t wait to see more of the Twixt.

Byrt Grade: A-

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kirkus Reviews says:

An uneven but eventually engaging story of first love, family drama and supernatural violence.

Read Breathe Relax says:

Indelible is sort of a fairy remix. The Fae you thought you knew are more grotesque and horrifying than ever…a solid YA fantasy that actually mentions parental relationships and sets the stage for a great series.