I’m a huge Jocelynn Drake fan. Loved her Dark Days series and was super excited when she announced details about her new series, Asylum Tales, which began with Angel’s Ink. Dead Man’s Deal is the second, and possibly final, book in The Asylum Tales (there are 2 prequel novellas, The Asylum Interviews: Bronx and The Asylum Interviews: Trixie). I LOVED Dead Man’s Deal. There were several plot points left from Angel’s Ink that were wrapped up BUT the way Jocelynn leaves things, there is sooo much room for more. I know I’m hoping the publisher contracts her for more in this world, as it’d be a shame to let things end where they do.
Dead Man’s Deal by Jocelynn Drake continues the dark and dangerous adventures of a magical tattoo artist begun in Angel’s Ink.
In a gritty urban fantasy world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires swim free in a sea of humanity, sometimes you need an edge. Looking for a little love? Need some luck? Desperate for revenge? Gage can give you what you need. The most talented tattoo artist in town, he knows the right symbol and the right mix of ingredients and ink to achieve your heart’s desire. One tattoo is all it takes. But remember, everything has its price.
The wizards know Gage is using forbidden magic, and they intend to punish him for his transgressions. Too bad if innocent humans and monsters—entire cities—get in the way. They will quell a nascent magical uprising and Gage will be the sacrifice they need. First, though, they have to find him.
Man oh man, Gage really cannot catch a break in Dead Man’s Deal. It seems to start off all calm, things having slightly settled down from the events in Angel’s Ink; but, as Gage knows, that surreal calmness wasn’t going to last. Just a few pages in, things heat and ramp up and stay that way pretty much all the way til the end. So, yes the pacing is very very quick, which is one of my favorite things about Dead Man’s Deal. There is soo much going on, you really can’t skim or skip around. There is a huge thing going down between Trixie and the Summer Court queen. These issues actually lead to introduction of a couple new character and WOW I did NOT ever foresee one of these characters ever coming and man did Jocelynn hit that “person” out of the ballpark. Spectacular. I’ll just say this character is one that I would have never expected nor have really seen in any PNR or UF currently on the market. If you read this and figure out who I’m talking about and have seen this “person” somewhere else in PNR/UF, let me know, I want to check it out *wink*.
The cast of main characters in Dead Man’s Deal is the same from Angel’s Ink, and I adore them. Bronx, Gage and Trixie are super awesome and I love the banter you get from time to time. They have each other’s backs, no matter what, including personal costs. Also, this is an open world and any type of supernatural you can dream up can appear…and you never know with Jocelynn…they just might, as I alluded to above. I really enjoy Jocelynn’s writing style. She has grown with each book/novella and it keeps getting better and better. She’s found a really good rhythm of making sure she weaves in world-building, keeping descriptions long enough so you’ll understand, but short enough you don’t start yawning and bored; all the while by ensuring there is lots of action and furthering of the story-line and plot line. All this made Dead Man’s Deal an excellent read.
And now I just need to do a fan girl thing real quick. It’s kind of a cross of “OMG OMG OMG–I can’t believe this happened (in a good way) and OMG OMG OMG…WHAT DID SHE JUST DO?!” I really really did not see a lot of things coming that happen. Some are really really good…as in you want to tear up because it’s sweet or just emotionally taxing (well for a UF novel!). And then you have some “oh holy crap, she didn’t just go there” moments. As I alluded to in the beginning of this review, the ending leaves things wide open. Some main plot points from Angel’s Ink are finished up but there is so much more that can happen given how things go down at the end.
All in all, Dead Man’s Deal was superb. I highly highly recommend the Asylum Tales series…as of now it’s 2 full length novels and 2 novellas as listed above. So, if you’re looking for a new, fresh UF series, go…and I mean run…and grab these up–you really can’t read Dead Man’s Deal as a standalone (at least I don’t rec you trying to) so if you haven’t started, what are you waiting for? And if you have, I can promise Jocelynn doesn’t let us down, but will leave you wanting more.