A lush, dark YA fantasy debut that weaves together tattoo magic, faith, and eccentric theater in a world where lies are currency and ink is a weapon, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake.
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.
Celia Sand and Anya Burtoni serve the Profeta religion as inklings, using magic to tattoo the faithful with images purported to offer Divine guidance. Non-\nbelievers since their conscription at age six, the 16-year-olds now feel certain the messages they convey come not from the heavens but from Profeta's mortal bureaucracy, and are meant not to save but to subvert free will. The girls flee, joining a slyly seditious traveling theater troupe dubbed the Rabble Mob of Minos. Crafting an act that disguises their Profeta-given talent as a parlor trick, Celia and Anya attract ample attention, including that of the Divine. The vengeful, power-hungry deity orders the wayward inklings to help expand her following using their performances as propaganda. If they refuse, their newfound friends will pay the price. First in a planned duology, Smejkal's exceptional debut champions solidarity and choice while extolling art's ability to spark revolution. Fierce friendships, fraught romance, and sharply drawn, emotionally complex characters of sundry gender identities and sexual orientations elevate the stakes of this ambitious, thought-provoking tale, whose closing cliffhanger inspires and devastates in equal measure. Ages 14 up.)\n