[A quick note: I love the alternate cover on the Illumicrate edition. I wasn’t a fan of the US cover. This is such a pretty book and was one I selected as part of my autumn atmospheric reads.]
“𝐔𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐭, 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐧 𝐩𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐚𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫. 𝐈𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝, 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐝, 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧. 𝐋𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧. 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝. 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐜𝐫𝐮𝐛𝐛𝐞𝐝𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲. 𝐈𝐧𝐤 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫.”—Tori Bovalino
Dripping with ink, the stacks within the Jessop library become the new home for the devil. Tess is a new student at the prestigious Fulk Preparatory Academy working off her tuition in the library. When she crosses paths with the dean’s son, who subtlety threatens her unless she takes him to the restricted book section, she has little choice but to comply. It’s within the these dark depths that they discover a book and unleash a being intent on possessing Tess or killing everyone she loves.
Creepy ink-filled moments, a devil, and a dash of romance are the backbone for this mild-thriller. It’s a dark academia atmospheric read sprinkled with grimoires, witches, enemies-to-lovers, and more. Much of the story takes place in the library between Tess and Eliot, a British boy whose dad is the dean of the university. Eliot isn’t like the other snobbish boys at Falk though. He’s always felt more comfortable hiding away in the library. When he returns from England for the summer semester, he’s on a mission to discover a powerful magic that might save his mom from dying. This is the pretense that brings him directly into Tess’s path.
I liked that there were some deeper themes touched on here. Disfunctional parental/child relationships, self harm, sickness and death. It lended a darker feel to the story. The creep level was fun. There were some heart-pounding moments where Tess was being stalked. Also some creepy moments where she wasn’t sure if she was seeing blood or ink, where she wasn’t sure if it was real or just in her head. It was part psychological part physical thriller. Definitely a good autumn atmospheric read.
While I enjoyed this story, it was lacking a certain depth I look for in a book with the character growth, dialogue, plot, etc. The premise sounded great, but everything that caught my eye wasn’t as heavily pronounced as I’d hoped. There were a few moments, especially at the beginning, where the plot felt a little forced. Especially in the way that Eliot and Tess were brought together with the sticky-tab thing. Who does that? Who puts insulting sticky tabs all over books and then just happens to forget to remove them before leaving for the end of their shift?? Aside from the ink factor, where the demon was immortalized in ink and could use books as their domain, I didn’t find a whole lot of originality in the story. In fact, the backbone felt like a retelling of Tom Riddle’s Diary from the Harry Potter fandom. Which is fine, I guess?
Overall, it was very much a YA read for those who are looking for darker themes, like dark academia, library settings, and a mild creepy factor. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟑.𝟓/𝟓⭐️