Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blood Magic

Silla Kennicot receives a package in the mail from someone named the Deacon. It contains a notebook from her father full of spells that require Latin incantations, various arcane ingredients, and blood. Her father was a mild mannered Latin professor before he killed his wife and himself. Silla hasn't been the same since and this book just confuses her more. She tries a simple spell in the book and it actually works. Nick sees her do the spell and is attracted to and repelled by her at the same time. He recently moved to the town because of his annoying stepmother and he isn't happy in the small town when he's used to a bustling big city. Silla and Nick grow closer together and discover that both of their families used this blood magic. They, along with Silla's brother Reese, experiment with the magic. All is going well until a woman named Josephine wants Silla's father's body and possesses their friends and various animals to terrify and attack them. Will they be strong enough to beat Josephine when everyone things they are crazy and no one can help them?

I first heard of Blood Magic from a post by Maggie Stiefvater recommending it. I was intrigued by the premise and amused with the video Maggie made. Blood Magic is a wonderful debut for Tessa Gratton. In the mass of teen paranormal novels, this one stands out and separates itself from the pack. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way that aren't expected in the genre. In paranormal romances, the action and conflict tend to be not too dark or intense. This is not the case with Blood Magic. The villain is intensely, overwhelmingly evil. There is a point where Silla is literally doesn't trust anyone or anything around her because of the power to possess living things that our villain uses so masterfully. There were things done in the story that I never thought I would read in a YA book. Her methods along with the very nature of using blood for magic makes this the start of a deliciously dark series.

The characters were excellent and they were the driving force of the novel. Silla and Nick are both out of their element. The death of Silla's parents casts a shadow over her and her classmates think maybe whatever madness possessed her father is in her. She gets through the day by imagining different colored masks to go over her face that symbolizes the fake emotion she wants to exude. When she gets to know Nick, her masks shatter, leaving her true feelings bare. I loved the mask image throughout the novel and I can't express how much I love the name Drusilla. Nick is just as lost, but in a very different way. He was uprooted from his home in Chicago and forced to live in a small town where everyone thinks he's weird and he's at the bottom of the pecking order. He and his stepmother don't get along at all and he feels that she's just using his father. These two outcasts just fit together as a couple without any weird dominance issues or abuse. They made each other whole and gave each other a place in the world where they belonged.

The one complaint I have about the book is that the writing was too consistent, which is usually a good thing. Silla and Nick have alternating chapters that they narrate with diary entries from the villain sporadically inserted between. When reading, I couldn't tell whose narrative I was reading just based on the writing except for the diary entries. When writing in this format, the two voices should be more distinct so I don't have to keep flipping the beginning of the chapter to see what point of view it's coming from.

Blood Magic is a wonderful and dark debut novel. Those not afraid of a little blood will love this book. I eagerly look forward to whatever Tessa Gratton does next.

My rating 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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