Review: Ink and Claw by Ellen Mint (2021)

Coven of Desire, Book # .5 & 1

Heat Factor: There’s definitely a lot of horniness. A lot. A lot, a lot, a lot.

Character Chemistry: There’s an insouciant horny demon who’s present for sex and not emotions, and there’s a werewolf who’s…complicated

Plot: Layla is a witch, and she’s got an incubus attached to her soul, and also she has a crush on a werewolf who (might be but probably isn’t) murdering women

Overall: Didn’t work for me but if you like totally horny, totally bonkers witchy fantasy, it might work for you?

Ink (Book .5)

Ink is the prequel to Claw and introduces the Coven of Desire series. Layla, the narrator, is celebrating her Halloween birthday and falls asleep wasted. She wakes up to find a smokin’ hot, winged incubus in her living room, and they have a sexy rumpus. 

Layla figuring out that she’s a witch and that Ink is bound to her is somewhat secondary to her being really, really horny, even while she’s telling herself that having sex with a stranger who showed up in her apartment (and at the library… and at her apartment again) is a spectacularly bad idea. Ergo, I think it’s best suited to readers who embrace a little dubcon-ish content. If “my body is saying, ‘YES!’ but my head is saying, ‘NO!’” is not your jam, this book is probably not going to be your jam. Also please consider the power dynamic of Ink being bound to Layla and answering her every desire. If you’re into the fantasy of having a sex demon catering to every sex whim… thumbs up. If the idea that a demon who listens to desires rather than words (and therefore doesn’t actually leave when asked) but who also doesn’t really get to have his own needs doesn’t work for you… give it a miss. 

Claw (Book 1)

Claw begins not long after Ink. There’s not a lot of recapping, but I think all the information one would need to understand what happened before is not difficult to figure out. Ink is still bound to Layla, and he only seems to have sex and witchy stuff on his mind. Which does not bother Layla at all, except when it interferes with her nursing degree and her flirting with Cal.

Before I started reading this, I saw it billed as reverse harem, which I have not yet read, but I am usually extremely open to having my mind bent by strange new things, so I was like, “hit me.” I’m not sure this really does fall into reverse harem exactly, because Layla is emotionally and physically interested in Cal, who she’s known from school for a long time and has a crush on, but she’s also physically into sex with Ink, even though she treats him like an obnoxious pet. Which I guess he kind of is (please see power dynamic thing above). 

The deal is that Layla has to solve these murders because they’re supernatural murders, even though she has no knowledge or training of how to do that. This is apparent when she deduces that Cal is the murderer on the slimmest of pretexts (I am talking slimmer than a sheet of paper). As you may know, if I start to think the protagonist is overlooking obvious questions in pursuit of the killer, I typically struggle to get on board with the suspense portion of the book. I didn’t get far enough into the book before DNFing to decide if I really buy into the mystery, but I did get far enough it for Layla to overcome her concerns and have sex with Cal after discovering his werewolf dungeon. 

So. You know. 

Layla’s emotions about her sexual partners are, for the most part, understandable, but they might not work for people seeking strong romantic relationships at the center of their romance stories, and they probably also won’t quite jive with readers who enjoy polyamory romance because this is not that. It’s a lot of pants feels, I think is where I’m trying to go with this. 

I ended up DNFing at 30% through Claw because these were really challenging for me to read. If I’m reading playful fantasy, my expectation is usually that the writing is clear enough that I can follow what’s happening in addition to understanding the world building. Because I struggled with that here, I believe the text would have benefited from better copyediting. The sentence structure and some of the word choice made the text challenging to read, as in, the quantity of adjectives and adverbs, in addition to the misuse of some words, did not always allow the text to flow naturally, and I had to reread portions to understand what was happening. If you want to see if the text works for you, the style of both Ink and Claw is very similar, so start with Ink before you commit to the 300 pages of Claw. Also start with Ink because it’s first.

The audience for this series is probably readers who enjoy a playful voice, pretty typical paranormal antics, and protagonists who seriously want to bone. And who are less likely to get hung up on writing that is not technically polished. (I’m not as finicky as some, but I can admit that I am more likely than most to be hyper focused on incorrect punctuation, wonky verb tenses, or words that are not used correctly contextually.)

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now on Amazon: Ink | Claw

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Witchy books

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