The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven (2008)

If you asked Jack to summarize his life in one word, that word would be ‘typical.’ Sidekick to his best friend, Charlie, Jack gets pulled into situations where he is never the hero but ultimately, somehow, responsible.

When a stranger invites Charlie to participate in a test, Jack is dragged along despite his protests. When it turns out Charlie has superpowers, Jack isn’t surprised to be sidelined. When those superpowers turn out to be the work of a power demon possessing him and Charlie is dragged to Hell, of course it is up to Jack to save him. Too bad he is immediately imprisoned and forced to be a gladiator.

Full of adventure, strange characters, and bizarre twists, The Black Tattoo ultimately disappoints for its loose, meandering plot. However, the audio version read by John Lee made it bearable. What a fantastic reader!

The reworking of religious characters and places reminded me of some of Anne Rice’s works and was interesting but it wasn’t enough to carry the novel. NarutoYu-Gi-Oh and other fight anime fans would enjoy the gladiator scenes and other fighting scenes, which are usually told in detail and compared to martial arts movies.

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