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Literature / The Black Tattoo

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The Black Tattoo is a Young Adult science fiction novel by Sam Enthoven about a guy who gets possessed by a demon inside a tattoo, while his best friend has to fight for his life in an arena made by the Devil himself. It is also incredibly epic.
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The story begins with Charlie, whose parents are recently divorced, meeting his father in a restaurant with his best friend Jack Farrell. They leave the restaurant, however, after Charlie snaps at his father. Soon afterward, Charlie is unknowingly possessed by a demon known as the Scourge. He also joins the society known as The Brotherhood Of Sleep, who imprisoned the Scourge in the roots of a tree until one of their own released him.

With Charlie's help, the Scourge manages to first kill all the members of the Brotherhood, save for their youngest member, a girl named Esme, who has trained all her life to kill the demon. Soon after the death of their members, a possessed Charlie gets into a gateway to Hell, which is essentially a Roman Empire of sorts composed of demonesque species and even gladiator pits. Soon after Charlie reaches Hell, The Scourge's true goal is revealed: He wishes to awaken "the dragon" who created the universe, and upon awakening he will destroy it again. Suddenly, it is up to Jack, Esme and a team of soldiers to stop Charlie and the Scourge from destroying the universe.

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Tropes associated with this book include:

  • Action Girl: Esme is most definitely one, along with Inanna.
  • Almighty Janitor: Almost literal, in fact. Turns out that God is the Devil's repairman.
  • A Load of Bull: One of the demon gladiators, Gladrash, is described as a giant bull.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The book ends by heavily implying that Jack will go on to live a Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World lifestyle.
  • Big Bad: The Scourge. His true name is Khentimentu.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Hacha'Fravashi. He actually begins the story as the ruler of Hell and has a large amount of power, being the most active threat toward the heroes for a majority of the story's middle, and even manages to nearly kill the Scourge. He ends up being ousted from power by Charlie and the Scourge resumes the place of the main villain for the remainder of the tale.
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  • Blob Monster: Jagmat, a pink creature who turns out to be rather friendly to Jack, despite hazing him in front of the other demons. Hacha'Fravashi's disgusting jelly-like structure that he uses to transport fighters, restrain them, and absorb others also counts in a way.
  • Butt-Monkey: Initially, Jack. After all, he gets killed within five seconds of entering the arena. He gets better.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: The origin of Hacha'Fravashi's powers.
  • Catch Phrase: According to Jack, everything is just typical.
  • Creepy Centipedes: The Sloat, a large beast who resembles a gigantic centipede, but with its segments covered in spines.
  • Dark Reprise: A non-song example, but after having his initial Motive Rant interrupted by Hacha'Fravashi, the Scourge smugly repeats the entire thing word for word and completely in the face of the dying emperor after Charlie has stabbed him.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Subverted. Esme finds out that the Scourge is her father, but dukes it out against the creature, instead of joining him.
  • Demonic Possession: How the Scourge works.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Jack and the giant dragon at the end of the book. And Jack manages to talk the dragon out of creating the apocalypse.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Esme versus the Scourge.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Jack gives the Dragon a well-deserved "What the hell?" speech at the end of the book. It's AWESOME!
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Esme has this custom given her martial artist status, though we are rarely told when she wears footwear or not.
  • The Dragon: Lord Slint is The Dragon (or better said, The Shark) to Hacha'Fravashi.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Charlie.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Scourge considers preventing the end of the world if Esme chooses to live with him as her daughter. Also, Charlie is a milder example. He's not evil, but very misguided, and the only people who make him hesitate taking up the Scourge's offer to rule hell are Jack and his mother.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Some demons, like lord Slint and Tunku, are aquatic animal-shaped, and they swim through the air.
  • Gentle Giant: Raymond can count as this.
  • Head Pet: The Chinj's are a kind of this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jack's attempt at this is subverted at the end of the book. He tries to switch places with Charlie so he can tell the Dragon not to end the world, something he knows will kill him. However, the Dragon takes a liking to him and chooses to spare him.
  • Hypocrite: Jagmat criticizes Ripitith for being a shapeshifter instead of a "clean" fighter, ostensibly not realizing that he is technically another shapeshifter.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Pigeon Sword.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Charlie's dad, who cheated on his mom, but is later revealed to be worried sick when he goes missing.
  • Living Shadow: The Scourge is most definitely this to Charlie.
  • Mark of the Beast: The titular Black Tattoo.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Sloat is described as being a mix between a centipede and a hedgehog.
  • Nice Guy: Jack, who only wants to stand by and help his friends.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Brotherhood of Sleep. Justified by the fact that Jeremy, the former director, though the secret would be safer with few people knowing of its existance.
  • Our Demons Are Different: And they would make Guillermo del Toro drool.
  • Overly Long Name: Ebisu Eller-Kong Hacha'Fravashi, not to say his many titles.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Scourge, until it was released.
  • Shapeshifter: Ripitith, although his shapeshifting choice does not work against Inanna.
  • Ship Tease: Surprisingly, Jack and Esme have something of it.
  • Spanner in the Works: Jack turns out to be a lot more than a simple Audience Surrogate.
  • Took a Level in Badass: By the end of the book, Jack.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Charlie believes that he's in charge, but the Scourge really just needs a vessel and someone besides himself to command the Dragon to end the world. Jack himself is also this to a degree, because the Scourge uses his apparent death to further manipulate Charlie. That last part backfires horribly for the Scourge.
  • Voice of the Legion: Everything the Scourge says is in bold, while Gukumat's sayings are in italics. The Dragon takes this up a notch by both having bold text for his speech and larger text when he gets pissed.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jack gives Charlie a big and well-deserved lecture on how selfish some of his actions after having gained superpowers have been.
  • Wolverine Claws: Svatog has two retractable blades coming from his hands.

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