Damien Walters Grintalis

Samhain Publishers
2012, Trade Paperback, $16.00, 297pp
Review by Wayne C. Rogers

Ink is Damien Walters Grintalis’ first novel, and it’s an excellent horror story with precision writing, a different kind of concept from vampires and zombies that’s both refreshing and utterly intriguing, and edge-of-your-seat suspense that builds slowly to a fever pitch, until it finally explodes in the face up with its intense ending. Needless to say, this is an author to keep an eye out for.

Spoiler alert!

The story centers on Jason, who has just experienced his wife leaving him, not for another man, but for a woman. Jason’s life with Shelly wasn’t all that great to begin with because she was a real ball-buster who demanded everything be her way, or else. Jason, however, still misses her, but his mind is secretly shouting out FREEDOM! like Mel Gibson did in Braveheart.

All it takes is a few hours before good-old Jason figures out that his life is much better off without Shelly, than it was with her.

To celebrate his new freedom, he decides to get drunk and then, maybe, get a tattoo. These are two things amongst many that Shelly frowned upon. While in the bar that night, he meets a tattoo artist by the name of John S. Iblis, who likes to occasionally sing a tune, “Had a girl and she sure was fine.” Also, I should point out that the word Iblis translates to Satan and that Iblis will appear to Jason in many forms throughout the novel.

You can see where this is leading.

Iblis quickly talks Jason into letting him do a tattoo for him. Once the artist has his victim back in his shop, located in a run-down building, he swiftly designs one of the most beautiful tattoos Jason has ever seen. It’s the tattoo of a magnificent, rather majestic griffin.

After the art work’s completion, Iblis gives Jason a card with his number on it and tells him if he ever wants the griffin removed, to give him a call.


Things go fairly well for Jason after that … at least for a little while. He meets a lovely blonde woman named Mitch who immediately likes him. His wife has set the divorce proceedings in motion, which will set him up so he can begin a new life. And, his family has accepted his divorce, though it was clearly a struggle for his mom, who’d liked Shelly. Of course, his mom and Shelly had a lot in common.

Then, things start happening.

It starts out in a small way when the pets of neighbors go missing. Jason then finds the tails of cats and a dog on his doormat. He thinks it’s the strange kid who lives down the street doing the evil deeds and even catches the runt peeking through the front window one night when he’s getting it on with Mitch.

There’s also a continuous pain in Jason’s arm where the tattoo is, and he’s starting to have very vivid nightmares that won’t go away.

Things in his life, however, don’t get better. In fact, they eventually spiral downward at a rather alarming pace as he and Shelly have a confrontation. A few days later he finds her hand on his doormat. The griffin finally reveals itself to Jason, and he realizes that if he’s not crazy, then he’s in some very deep trouble. After that, the police come knocking on his door about the death of Shelly and her girlfriend, who have had their bodies ripped apart.

Jason soon has it out with the kid, seeking to find out exactly what he knows. That’s when the young boy tells him about the griffin flying around at night in the neighborhood, not to mention coming in and out of Jason’s house. That’s why he was peeking in the front window that night.

The tattoo artist, John S. Iblis, knows exactly what’s going on and expects Jason to come crawling back to him, begging to have the griffin removed from his arm. Iblis will be more than acceptable to removing the tattoo, but only if Jason accepts his own conditions for doing it.

Be prepared for an explosive finale in Damien Walters Grintalis’ Ink. Expect the unexpected because nothing is as it seems and the reader will be faced with some real surprises. This is one of the most powerful things about Damien’s novel … it leaves you with your jaw hanging.

It’s difficult to believe this is an author’s first novel. Damien (when I write that name, I always think of the kid in The Omen). This book is written so well, it’s as if this is her fourth or fifth novel. This is definitely a pro at work, a writer who’s going to be soon making a big name for herself. I guarantee you that Ink will be winning all sorts of awards in 2013 for best horror novel of the year.

This book is certainly a keeper and will have you waiting impatiently for her next novel to come out. I don’t know when that will be or what it will be about, but I’m anxiously awaiting it to come out.

How’s that for pressure on a new author?

Great reading!

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