A tattoo is an energy exchange that can be addictive for both client and practitioner, and those two tattoos with ashes carried wild energy—lightning crackling and popping on clear-skied days—and made Mike’s hands wobble in a way they hadn’t wobbled in twenty years. His breath was high and greedy in his chest, and just the emotion, the connection of it, was unreal. [location 299]
Mike believes that tattooing, done right, is an art: it's a philosophy that he insists his employees share. When a customer comes in with the ashes of a deceased relative and asks Mike to mix them into the ink, Mike discovers that there's more to tattooing than art. Maybe there's closure; maybe there's comfort; maybe there's justice.
Phil sees himself as a god. There's an art to what he--
Actually, Phil is a sociopathic serial killer who profoundly hates women. There is a creeping horror woven through his narrative voice. He's nauseatingly convincing.
A Good and Useful Hurt has strong characterisation, a twisty plot that surprised me at several points, and an emotional rawness that really resonated. There's more than a touch of the fantastical about it, and some powerful imagery. And closure, and justice: and, yes, comfort.