Posted on July 17, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
Primarily set in the city of Madison, Wisconsin, Amazon Ink is an urban fantasy novel where the fabled race of Amazonian women exist. Part of Amazon Ink‘s appeal, for me, was the way Lori Devoti handled the legend of the Amazon warrior women in today’s society.
The main character is named Melanippe Saka, who lives with her mother, grandmother and daughter. Although her daughter hasn’t been acclimated into the Amazonian tribe with its curious-yet-permanent encampments, both her mother and priestess grandmother have different roles that conflict with Melanippe’s ousted status. From the first chapter, you can tell that Melanippe is something of a rebel, which adds quite a bit of conflict when a dead, college-aged girl shows up on her doorstep.
Although Amazon Ink is a murder-mystery, several character conflicts pull and twist at the plot. On the one hand, you have an entire supernatural race of beings that has strict rules on the role of men and how the Amazon women interact with society. This conflict is part of Melanippe’s background and the overall plot because it’s part of the reason why she left the tribe. As a result, Melanippe has issues with almost everyone in the Amazon tribe — and they have issues with her. There is also conflict between Melanippe and her daughter Harmony, because Melanippe wants to protect her daughter by denying her from her Amazonian heritage. As you continue reading Amazon Ink, you’ll quickly find out that Melanippe is not an easy character to get along with for she ends up having issues because she listens to her gut reaction.
Melanippe’s challenges communicating and dealing with the tribe set her up as a prime suspect when more Amazonian girls start disappearing. Her grandmother and mother are also exceptionally free-willed, which creates some interesting drama when the tribe starts setting up shop above Melanippe’s tattoo parlor.
Even though gender and family roles take center stage in this urban fantasy novel, there is a unique twist on the Amazonian mythos that offers a touch of ethnicity blended with mythology. The primary goddess behind the Amazons is Artemis, who you may remember from Greek mythology. Tattoos are part of the “magic” in Amazon Ink, which is part of the reason why Melanippe is a suspect in both the Amazonian world and the human one. There are a few male characters that offer great counterpoints to Mel’s impulsiveness; Pete (a tattoo artist she ends up employing) and Detective Reynolds. If you’re looking for their characters to be weak-willed and subservient to the Amazons, you’ll be sadly disappointed. There’s a little bit of sexual tension that makes you wonder whether or not Mel will end up in a romantic entanglement, which adds a little bit of spice to Mel’s passionate character.
I have to say that I liked the twist on the Amazonian culture because there are several unique facets to it that were revealed in the first book. The interpersonal character conflicts heat up as the mystery takes center stage, enhancing the pacing and my curiosity to find out the real culprit. (Not only did I guess the identity of the murderer wrong, but I also got the murderer’s motives wrong, too.)
As the first urban fantasy book in a series, Amazon Ink is a fast read with enough twists and turns to hold your attention and keep you wanting for more. This would be a good book for anyone who enjoys powerful characterizations and high magic in their urban fantasy novels.
For more about the author, be sure to visit the official website of Lori Devoti and watch for the second book in the sequel, dubbed Amazon Queen.
Review by Monica Valentinelli