Monday, June 8, 2009

Amazon Ink - Lori Devoti

Meet the Saka’s, a (semi?) normal family by all outward appearances who just happen to be Amazons. There’s Melanippe (Mel), her 14-year-old daughter Harmony, her warrior Mother, and her 500-year-old high priestess grandmother, Bubbe. They all live in a circa 1900’s school that has been converted into a tattoo parlor/home. It’s been 10 years since any of them have had any contact with their Amazonian tribe. Ever since the tribe let Mel down and caused her to leave taking her daughter with her (her Mother and grandmother would soon join her to show their solidarity.) Mel has made a nice living running a tattoo shop in Madison, Wisconsin. However, their absence from the tribe is soon coming to an end.

Someone knows Mel’s secret and has been depositing murdered Amazon girls on her doorstep. She’s moved the bodies afterwards to try and keep her and her family out of it, but someone is sending her a message…a message that frightens Mel to her core for her young, untrained daughter. Before too long the Amazons she wished to avoid are at her home accusing Mel of the murders and the local police have shown up believing she knows more then she’s saying. If Mel cannot find this murderer on her own the Amazons plan on taking their vengeance on her. To do this she will have to embrace the powers she’s shunned for a decade.

I will freely admit that upon reading the back of this book my first thought was, “How cool. What if Wonder Woman left Paradise Island to become a tattoo artist.” That wasn’t the case, but believe it or not, I wasn’t disappointed. Mel is a deeply layered character who continues to surprise throughout this book. Her exchanges with all the other characters in the novel (especially her Mother & Bubbe) make you really respect Ms. Devoti’s talent for dialogue. Now, Mel will never guest star on C.S.I or Law & Order. She’s no sleuth (Mel reacts with her gut throughout), but I actually found this to be more in character. Being an Amazon, no matter where she chooses to live, she would go with her gut rather than search for clues.

Ms. Devoti also does a nice job of making her secondary characters equally interesting. With the male tattoo artist and police detective she walks a tightrope of making them alpha males, but not overly domineering. With Zery, the Amazon Queen, she puts in a great back-story of clues about who she is to Mel all the way up to her introduction.

Mixing myth and modern day is no mean feat, but Ms. Devoti does so with ease. All in all Lori Devoti makes her way through the forest that is Urban Fantasy and does so completely unscathed. I’ve heard that the next the series should arrive in 2010, but this first outing will make you wish it were sooner.

Amazon Ink receives 3 out of 4 stars.

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