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- Why I read it: Haunted mansions, blood 'n' guts, shivers up your spine, sexy times
- Disclosure: Bought a signed copy from a local indie. (You should, too!)
It starts off simply.I've said before: the paranormal romance genre is a fraught one for me. There's the godawful tropes, for one, that aren't inherently worse than those you find in any other genre but grate on me more because they inescapable and seem to be seeping into every YA subgenre even when it makes no sense (the mysterious beautiful stranger romance in brutal, vicious dystopia lit, anyone?). There's the typical cliffhanger endings. There's the ratio of "cashing in on a trend" authors to "doing it because I love it" authors that I really shouldn't take into account but do anyway. Etcetera, etcetera.
Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...
Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.
The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.
Tessa Gratton's intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.
Blood Magic proves why I try it so often anyway even when I'm almost certain I won't enjoy it. Because when I do enjoy it, it takes my breath away.
I'm not even sure where to begin. Blood Magic is gothic, lush, and gorgeous, both terrifying and laugh-out-loud funny, seriously sexy and even more seriously heartbreaking. Every time I thought it was winding down, the story wound right back up again and enthralled me until I never wanted it to end. With the exception, perhaps, of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I can't think of a YA I've read this year that's this atmospheric or just plain creepy.
Unfortunately, Gratton slips a bit into Tropeville in the development of her arch-villainess, who I couldn't help but picture like the evil witch from Tangled and who had about as much depth (which is to say, none). I eventually started skimming her diary sections as quickly as possible because they annoyed me, I really didn't need or want the backstory, and I thought the book would have been better without them. But really, that's a minor quibble for a debut when the rest of this novel is just so darn good.
While the intricate and original mythology, Gratton's absolute refusal to pull punches with character deaths (I cried twice), and excellent pacing are all nice talking points, I would be especially remiss if I didn't list Silla and Nick's romance as one of my favorite parts of the book. Anyone who thinks a good PNR needs to be hopelessly codependent and forbidden and miserable to be swoony (see: Bella and Edward, Clary and Jace) must read this book, because holy awesome, Batman: there is mutual crushing that turns to love and respect to be found here! And while nobody gets any real action, there are also some seriously sexy, swoony makeout times. HELL TO THE FREAKIN' YEAH.
While the ending certainly left me wanting more, it wasn't in a cheap trick cliffhanger way as much as wanting to spend more time in Gratton's incredible world, so I'm not even going to give it a wait-till-the-end-of-the-series warning. All in all, I can't recommend this book more highly, both to those who love PNR and to those (like me) who are still on the fence. More, please!
*As you may have noticed, I'm discontinuing star ratings here at the Bookshelf. More on that in my next post!