11 must-read new YA releases that will capture your heart this February

Photo: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon.. Image Courtesy Simon & Schuster Books
Photo: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon.. Image Courtesy Simon & Schuster Books /
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Ink in the Blood – Kim Smejkal

Ink in the Blood is a lush dark fantasy that includes everything from tattoo magic, faith and even eccentric theater. It’s complex and complicated, with world building that involves everything from religious orders to political bureaucracy.

Celia Sand and Anya Burtoni are inklings, conscripted to serve the Profeta religion by tattooing the faithful with images purported to offer Divine guidance. Neither girl believes that the messages they receive are truly divinely inspired, rather both suspect that they come from the government ministers and are aimed at controlling the population.

When the girls see the opportunity to flee with a traveling theater troupe, they take it, and turn their formerly divine powers to create art. But their escape does not go unnoticed by the deity they once purported to serve, or the Divine’s followers.

The official synopsis has a few more details.

"Celia Sand and her best friend, Anya Burtoni, are inklings for the esteemed religion of Profeta. Using magic, they tattoo followers with beautiful images that represent the Divine’s will and guide the actions of the recipients. It’s considered a noble calling, but ten years into their servitude Celia and Anya know the truth: Profeta is built on lies, the tattooed orders strip away freedom, and the revered temple is actually a brutal, torturous prison. Their opportunity to escape arrives with the Rabble Mob, a traveling theater troupe. Using their inkling abilities for performance instead of propaganda, Celia and Anya are content for the first time . . . until they realize who followed them. The Divine they never believed in is very real, very angry, and determined to use Celia, Anya, and the Rabble Mob’s now-infamous stage to spread her deceitful influence even further. To protect their new family from the wrath of a malicious deity and the zealots who work in her name, Celia and Anya must unmask the biggest lie of all—Profeta itself."

Ink in the Blood is available February 11.