A tattoo can be a work of art…or a curse.
The fearsome griffin inked on Jason’s arm looks real enough to climb off and take flight. Jason thinks his new tattoo is perfect. Until he wakes up one night to find his arm temporarily ink free. Until he finds a brick wall where the tattoo shop should be.
As Jason’s world spins out of control, he comes to realize a truth as sharp as the griffin’s talons. The tattoo is alive, it’s hungry, and if Jason tries to kill it, he’ll die. The artist will remove it for a price, but he’s not interested in money or Jason’s soul. He wants something far worse…
“A tattoo can be a work of art…or a curse. The Devil is in the details.”
Amen, sister. That quote gives you all you need to understand the journey Damien Walters is about to take you on. Ink is Jason Harford’s story- one that is not uncommon, but certainly one that ends as a cautionary tale about the things we do when we believe we have nothing left to lose.
Jason has just ended a bitter, loveless marriage with his wife, and, like many folks who have escaped the confines of a stifling relationship, he seeks a means to stretch his wings, to do something out of the norm. When a “Sailor” sits next to him at a bar and offers a bit of a reprieve, Jason agrees. He gets the griffin tattoo that the Sailor offers, and a bit more than he bargained for.
Sailor turns out to be Iblis, a devil, quite literally, in disguise. And that consent form Jason signed before needle met skin? Well, with his signature comes far more responsibility than making sure his new ink is cleaned daily.
I first read Walters’ short fiction. To say she is prolific, would be a huge understatement. She is gifted, blessed with a unique voice and I was pleased that those beautiful shorts she crafted so expertly, were just a brief preview of what an incredible presence her long form work would be. That Ink is based on the tattoo world is something I appreciated. Being the wife of an tattoo artist, I picked up on a few things that the unfamiliar may be ignorant of. For example, when I first read about Sailor, and took in Jason’s description, I had to smile at Walters’ reference of a classic tattoo icon.
She certainly has that world down to every minute detail, but what shines in the novel is the excruciating fear woven into each line. This isn’t some grotesque, ‘for shock value only’ horror novel. It is lyrical, it surfs the literary, and it will scare the hell out of you.
Jason’s dreams, the details on what happens when his world begins to fracture, are all exhibited in terrifying detail that left me huddled under my blankets, debating weather or not I wanted to turn the next page. And when that disappearing, reappearing-in-the-wrong-places griffin takes its final, bloody flight? Well. Just make sure you read the ending on an empty stomach.
Walters has crafted an authentic, brilliantly scary novel that certainly lives up to its promise of blissfully frightening story telling. I can’t wait to read more.