Book Review: Stolen Ink (Ink Born Book 1) by Holly Evans

Dacian is a tattoo magician with a secret who has managed to so far fly under the radar, but, when a thief starts stealing people's magical tattoos (and killing the people in the process), Dacian ends up being the one chosen to stop him. Dacian doesn't know how and doesn't want to reveal his secret about his magic, but he can't sit back and do nothing. Between the thief, a stalker, a new relationship, and the council, Dacian is going to have his hands full.

Title: Stolen Ink
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 283
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

So… this book sounded cool because tattoo magic! But it ended up not quite working for me.

One of my issues was that I didn’t understand the world. I know everyone complains about info dumping, but I need a little bit of explanation. I finally got some answers in the second half of the book or so, but there’s still a lot I’m unclear on. It seemed as though the vast majority of the population were either supernatural or had magic, and different types of magic were taught at colleges, but I have no idea if you have to born with an innate skill or if anyone can learn it. I also don’t know how many different types of magic/magicians there are or what any of them do except tattoo magicians and breakers (Isaiah was a weaver, but I still don’t understand what that meant). And I guess having magical animal tattoos inside of you was a common occurrence. Also, there was a council and a guild, but I don’t know what either of them did or were in charge of.

And because I didn’t understand what the council was or did, I didn’t understand why Dacian was so afraid of them finding out about his magic. It was such an important thing, Dacian didn’t want to get involved in the murders because he didn’t want to reveal his ink magic to anyone and was constantly thinking about how he had a bag packed and could flee to Europe… but I had no clue why.

It also seemed like the author was trying to put more meaning into every relationship than was actually there. And there was so much… touching. Not that I have an issue with affection between characters in books, but this felt forced. Caressing and kissing wrists and brushing fingers over lips and rubbing thumbs over wrists/knuckles and cupping faces—between Dacian and Keirn, between Dacian and Isaiah even when they’d just met, even Ethan got in on the lip touching action at one point.

On a similar note, none of the characters felt three-dimensional. Isaiah was the scrawny-but-feisty stereotype, Vyx was kind of the same but female, Ethan was the flirtatious jerk who was actually a good guy, etc. Dacian was the only one who came close to being realistic.

Also, it took long time for anything to really happen. And then the resolution came suddenly and easily and was kind of anticlimactic. At least there was a solid resolution to the problem of this book though (with an opening for the series to continue). And I would still say this was more of a plot-driven than character-driven book.

Lastly, this is one of those nitpicky things, but I have never in my life called someone or been called or heard anyone refer to their friend as “old friend.” Like, “Thank you, old friend.” “I’m sorry, old friend.” It just grated on me until, every time it was used, I would cringe and get twitchy.

Oh! It’s probably also worth mentioning as a positive thing for anyone who likes reading about pets that there were lots of animals since Dacian had a cat and a snake (tattoos, but they came to life as corporeal things) and Keirn had a fox.

Overall, despite all my complaints, I wouldn’t say this was a bad book, and Dacian wasn’t an unlikeable character, but the characters didn’t feel real to me, and I had a hard time getting into the story.


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24 thoughts on “Book Review: Stolen Ink (Ink Born Book 1) by Holly Evans

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  1. suzanna

    I’m always sad when books don’t quite hit the spot. The blurb actually sounds quite good.
    Hope you’ve stopped twitching now ‘old friend’ ha ha.

  2. chucklesthescot

    Getting the balance right between providing the reader with required information and having clunky info dumps is where authors often stumble. Those who get it right produce the best books. I’m not a fan of being swamped with every detail of the world the book is set it. I just want to know what is relevant to the plot or characters. I hate getting to the end and still having questions about what was happening. I tried a different book by this author and didn’t finish it though that was more about instant dislike of the MC! Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I actually don’t usually have a problem when it comes to world-building, so either lots of authors get it right, or I’m not very picky about it. But this just wasn’t enough and had me really confused for a while. But I agree, I don’t want EVERY detail either. I’ve never tried this author’s other books, and I don’t plan to. Not that her writing was terrible, it’s just not for me. Thanks 🙂

  3. Lampshade Reader

    Lol on the “old friend” bit. That is so not a modern saying! You also had me laughing at the lip action part. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more, but great review! 🙂 ~Aleen

    1. Kristen Burns

      It’s really not! For some reason, I’ve noticed that a lot of authors constantly have their characters call each other by their relationship a lot. Like, “I’m sorry, old friend.” “How are you today, Uncle?” “Thank you, brother.” No one talks like this! And the lip touching had me just as twitchy as the old friend thing lol. Thanks 🙂

  4. Lola

    The tattoo magic thing does sound very cool. I also saw this one on netgalley and was curious about it, but not curious enough to actually request it.

    I actually don’t really mind info dumps, I usually just want to know as much as possible about the world and don’t mind too much when we get it in the form of an info dump. I prefer getting a feel for the world than being confused. It sounds like this book could’ve done with a bit more world building if you were still unclear about so many things at the end.

    I do like a good plot driven book, but I also like it when the characters feel realistic. I also have read some books with a lot of touching, it can feel like a bit much at times, but maybe some people are just more touchy people? Too bad the characters didn’t feel realistic in this one.

    I do like the sound of the pets playing a role in this book! That does sound fun. I noticed the guy on the cover had a cat tattoo.

    Those small things or words can really grate on your nerves! I also never have heard anyone hear call a friend old friend. Maybe I could see it in the context like when introducing someone, like this is an old friend of mine. It does seem nice it had a solid resolution at the end and set things up for the next book. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’d rather an info dump than not enough info, I think. Because without enough, I get confused and it detracts from the story, which was what happened here.

      I used to be a super affectionate person and had lots of friends who were the same. So I totally understand touchy, affectionate characters. But I’ve seen this happen in other books too where it’s like the author is trying to make the relationships more meaningful and intimate than they are, and they attempt to do that by just including lots of unnatural interactions and touching. I mean, even as an affectionate person, I’d still have been weirded out if one of my close friends touched my lips while talking to me, let alone someone I hardly knew.

      I think you’d love the pets! They were probably the best part lol.

      Yes, sometimes it is the small things that grate the most. I agree, it makes sense to say that someone is your old friend, but not to actually call them “old friend” all the time while talking to them. But yeah, I was glad there was at least a resolution. Thanks 🙂

  5. Dina

    Hello, old friend.
    Seriously, though, I have never heard anyone say that before in real life. I don’t mind affection, but yes, that sounds kind of strange to physically express affection with everyone. It must get annoying to read so much loving with no background/explanation. I like the concept of tattoo magic, too! It reminds me of runes in the Mortal Instruments books. Those are my favorite.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha you cracked me up. Right? People just don’t say that. And yeah, I used to be super affectionate with super affectionate friends, so I get that, but this was… weird. Too forced, and even with my closest friends I’d be weirded out if they softly ran their thumbs over my lips. That tattoo magic was unique though! I haven’t read the Mortal Instruments, so I don’t know if it’s similar in any way.

  6. Greg

    Tattoo magic is kind of new for me but an interesting idea. And a tattoo thief… hmm. Bummer this didn’t work out better… I need to understand the world at least a LITTLE bit. Frankly I’d rather have an infodump than finish the book going um, why lol. And the touching thing… yeah sounds it was way overused.

    Lol about “old friend”. Sounds like the author likes to use certain phrases or whatever and maybe editing could tighten that up a bit. Tattoos coming to life is interesting! Sorry this one didn’t work better…

    1. Kristen Burns

      New for me too, and I do like the idea. It was just the rest that didn’t work for me. I do need more explanation about the world than what I got here. I agree I’d rather an infodump. And yeah, less touching.

      I’ve noticed a lot of authors use weird terms of address, like the old friend thing. It does seem that’s something that should be fixed in editing, right? But at least the book wasn’t terrible. Thanks 🙂

  7. Uma @ Books.Bags.Burgers.

    The premise seems so interesting! Magical tattoos would sure be awesome to read about! I’m sad it didn’t quite work though! And stereotypical cardboard cutouts annoy me like nothing else. I think I’ll skip this one. Thanks for the helpful review 🙂

  8. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    I don’t think I have ever read a tattoo magic book! Where do you find these books with these unique topics?? I hate information dump when it is about backstories which I think it should be done through characterization but I’m with you! TELL ME ABOUT THE WORLD. NEVER ENOUGH [unless is one of those over describes books that narrates EVERY freaking step the MC take sin the world, and that’w why it takes forever sometimes for anything to happen] and… anticlimactic.. that’s just BAD. Well not as bad as the “old friend” thingy that’s just.. UGH 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      I hadn’t either! And I found this one on your best friend NetGalley 😛 But yeah, I really need a bit more explanation about the world. Not too much though. That’s what happened in the book I reviewed on Friday, too much about the world. I didn’t realize until now that this book and that one are opposites in that way lol. But anyway, I’m glad it’s not just me who found the “old friend” thing weird. Thank you for commenting, old friend 😉

  9. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I like the concept of magical tattoos but it sounds like this book was executed poorly considering you didn’t get enough of an explanation to anything to understand what was happening. I feel like you’ve read a few books recently that have missed the mark because they’ve not quite done the story justice. I agree, the whole old friend thing is weird. That is only acceptable in X Men with Magneto and Xavier. Every other time is just plain old weird.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, the concept was cool, but everything else didn’t quite work for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any X-Men movies, so I don’t remember them saying that, but yeah, ok I can see them getting away with it. But the characters in this book, at least the MC, not 100% sure how old the friend was since he was an elf and might’ve just looked young or something, was only like 20-something I think and it just didn’t really make sense.

  10. Bookworm Brandee

    Okay, all the confusion you have??? Yeah, I’ll skip this one. The world building doesn’t seem well done at all nor does the character development. It’s a shame since you’re right – the premise did sound cool. But the author doesn’t seem to have delivered on that. :/ Nice thoughtful review, Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I was distracted a lot by my confusion about the world :-/ And the characters just fell flat to me. Like you said, good premise, but I didn’t feel like the author delivered very well. Thanks!

  11. Cee Arr

    I don’t know anyone under 30 who calls people ‘old friend’ – except maybe posh boarding-school-type English people! (But then, I think they also refer to each other as ‘old chum’ and generally speak as if they walked out of a 1950s rose-tinted boys-own novel.)

    Although, I do refer to The Bestie as (variously) Muggins, Sherlock old girl, Batgirl, Thingiemabob, Madame, and Misses. But that’s because I’m such a good friend, obviously 😉

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha, “old chum” was exactly what I thought of when you said posh boarding school English people 😛 But these guys were living in the US, I assume, since he kept talking about fleeing to Europe. So nope, didn’t fit for them.

      But ah, that’s more just a normal nickname friends kinda thing! “Old friend” being used in a non-comical way is still odd lol.

  12. Olivia Roach

    I do like having an explanation of the world, but it has to be a balance of not going into too much detail and being necessary as well. I think Elise Kova did that wonderfully with Alchemists of Loom. There was no better easing into a world such as that novel! But when it comes to fantasy, the world becomes such a huge part of the plot, so I can understand why that confusing for you!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, there definitely needs to be a balance. I haven’t read Alchemist of Loom, but it’s great when you find an author who does world building well!