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The Black Tattoo    by Sam Enthoven order for
Black Tattoo
by Sam Enthoven
Order:  USA  Can
Razorbill, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

Charlie Farnsworth's parents have just separated. He's angry, defiant, and wondering how much of life with his parents was an emotional lie. After he and his friend, Jack Farrell, meet Charlie's father for a talk, an enraged Charlie bumps into a man on the street. The man turns out to be a member of a secret brotherhood whose mission is to capture a demon named The Scourge. So begins Sam Enthoven's The Black Tattoo.

The man invites Charlie and Nick back to the brotherhood's base. There they meet a girl named Esme, who has been training all of her life to defeat The Scourge. Within minutes the man gives the three a test to see who will lead the brotherhood in defeating the demon. Charlie wins. His goal now is to stop the end of the world as The Scourge plans to open up a fracture to Hell, form an army of demons, and invade the Earth. When Charlie begins to train, he discovers he has incredible fighting powers and magical abilities. His friend Jack remains in Charlie's shadow, as always. But when Jack notices an inky black tattoo trickling up and around his friend's skin, covering his body with liquid darkness, Jack realizes something is not right. As he follows his friend to Hell and back, the roles of hero and sidekick become blurred as the story turns upside down and ventures into places the human mind has never been.

Author Sam Enthoven's imagination and easy writing style make this book an enjoyable one to read, even for those who aren't usually fans of speculative fiction. The characters are well formed and capture the reader's interest, even if the descriptions of various demons in Hell get a bit lengthy. The Black Tattoo shows interesting versions of Heaven and Hell, God and the universe as we know it. And it's always interesting to see if the underdog can triumph isn't it?

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