Kirsten Imani Kasai’s new novel, Tattoo, was just one of the many, many advance reader copies sent to me by various publishers, and so it went on the huge pile of incoming books in the living room library. But when I did my periodic browse of forthcoming novels, I was flipping through Tattoo when I discovered that unlike many of its companions... I could not put it down. The author’s voice was so utterly compelling and the style was stunningly unique: bold yet lush, muscular yet intricate and detailed, unafraid to change register and effect as necessary. When you discover that kind of writer, which happens only once every couple of years (if you’re lucky), you’re willing to follow them anywhere.
Where, exactly, will Tattoo, the sequel Kasai’s prior novel Ice Song, take you? To “an environmentally fragile world where human and animal genes combine, the rarest mutation of all--the Trader--can instantly switch genders. One such Trader--female Sorykah--is battling her male alter, Soryk, for dominance and the right to live a full life. Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. Her journey, she believes, is over, but Matuk’s death has unleashed darker, more evil forces. Those forces--led by the Collector’s son--cast nets that stretch from the glittering capital of Neubonne to the murky depths below the frozen Sigue, where the ink of octameroons is harvested to make addictive, aphrodisiac tattoos. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit.”
Tattoo might have come into the house with an unassuming title and a standard unassuming advance reading copy cover, but it’s entirely a mimic in that regard: this is unique stuff, and powerful in all senses of the word. You can also buy an enhanced e-book of Tattoo that contains four bonus short stories related to the series. Recently, I checked in with Kasai via email to ask her about her writing and the new novel.
Amazon.com: Can you tell Amazon readers where you are while answering these questions?