Disclaimer: Betts is a fellow Dog Star Books author and I consider him a friend. However, I purchased a copy of this novel for full price.
Comparing INDELIBLE INK to Matt Betts’ first novel, the steampunk/zombie/giant monster/Weird West extravaganza ODD MEN OUT, does both books a disservice. Instead, INDELIBLE INK is a creature all its own. Specifically, a paranormal/superhuman/crazy assassin/creepy government agents extravaganza.
Deena is the aforementioned paranormal/superhuman/crazy assassin, but the cool thing about this book is that she is not the only one. The other is just as crazy and possibly paranormal and maybe superhuman, but not in the same way. In fact, we don’t even really know all about what makes Deena unique. The fact that Betts never tells us more than the characters themselves know is what makes this book interesting and exciting. Many authors will give enough hints in the narrative to clue the readers in while keeping the characters guessing, but Betts’ characters are smarter than that. Instead, we are along for the full ride of never quite knowing what’s coming next.
Betts is very good at creating ensemble pieces with characters that follow all the expectations of the genre while adding his own flavors to make them stand out. They might not always be likable, but they are always interesting. This is another perk that definitely kept me reading.
Though ODD MEN OUT worked as a stand-alone novel with the exciting possibility of a sequel, I always had the feeling while reading INDELIBLE INK that there was too much going on to be neatly wrapped up in one package. Never fear, the primary plot is resolved, but the novel itself sets up further adventures that left me wanting much, much more.
Rating: 5 stars
(Cross-posted to GoodReads and Amazon.)