Author: Tessa Gratton
Genre: YA, PNR, Horror, Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: August 28, 2012 (Random House – North America)
Source: NetGalley review copy/Publisher-provided Review Copy
Summary: For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It’s all she’s ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm in Kansas with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose—she’s connected to the land and protective of the magic. And she is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. Mab will do anything to keep the ancient practice alive and guard its secrets. But one morning while she is working out a particularly tricky spell she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise some mundane personal demons. He experiences Mab’s magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But secrets that were kept from Mab by the earlier generations of blood magicians have come home to roost. And she and Will are drawn back together, time again by this dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.
☆: 5/5 stars – definitely one of the best of 2012, and I really hope this isn’t the last book!
Review: I have to say, Gratton really crept up on me and made me love her writing and her world with “Blood Magic”, so I was pretty anxious to see what would happen with her sophomore effort, “The Blood Keeper” and whether or not it would suffer from middle book syndrome. I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint and if anything, really helped connect the dots that were missing in “Blood Magic”. Fans of the first book simply must read this second book. I just honestly hope it’s not the last.
I think one thing that really threw off fans of the first book who have already read and reviewed this one is the lack of the notification that we’re five years in the future after Reese’s metamorphosis and Josephine’s death. It’s only subtly referred to when the topic of Nick and Silla come up, in terms of how all of them interact and how they’re all connected. What would have also been helpful (and what I hope gets included in the official published version, maybe in the paperback edition) would have been the inclusion of the novella “Crow Magic”, which is supposed to answer all of these questions as it takes place in the five year interim between both books. Is it frustrating as hell that “Crow Magic” is now nowhere to be found? Yes. An impediment to immediately slipping back into this universe? Just slightly. But it’s not required reading. It just makes the reader work a bit harder to get back into the swing of things.
We see faces old and new, as well as get information on how far the “blood kin” extend over the US and parts of Europe. Phillip’s journeys as documented by Josephine in book one have more answers in book two, but I won’t spoil you further. Gratton gives us a lot of answers as well as a new Big Bad to fight with only a little help from old friends. This book is mostly Mab and Will’s story, with a mirroring story of the past to accompany it. But it needs to be emphasized that this book and the first book, while they might be the same sort of animal, they’re totally different species. Mab is a young (but seasoned) blood witch, only trying to do her duty, while Silla is trying to find out who she really is. Once readers understand that, I think it’ll be easier to get into this book and really enjoy it.
Gratton is at the top of her game here. She was good with her sensory language and imagery in book one, but in book two, she’s positive electric with it, along with boosted worldbuilding that completely sucks you in. It’s rare to have an author that can so completely immerse you in such a world and be able to have all of those characters rewoven back into its landscape. To be honest, by the time the book ended, I didn’t want to leave Mab’s world – it was far too lovely, too magical compared to real life. Absolutely gorgeous from start to finish in the imagery department and the characters are utterly memorable and larger than life. The love woven is not just between characters, but it’s a romance between a girl and her world, too. And that’s what I loved the most about this – its message. We’re all connected, all integrated, and so no matter what we do, we all at some point can be loved for it.
And yet, there are more questions that await us. Who will be the next Deacon? What happened to Reese at the end of the book? Who exactly is Pan/Lukas? Where else is there blood kin geographically outside of the US and Europe? Will Gabriel get his own confessionary diary/letter-themed sub-plot? I just hope we get at least one more book to answer these questions. I don’t want to close the book (pardon the pun) on this world forever. I want more.
Final verdict? Even if you weren’t sure about book one, you simply must read this companion book if just for the new characters and old secrets revealed. “The Blood Keeper” will be out on August 28, 2012 from Random House Children’s in North America, so be sure to catch it then. Its spot on my best of 2012 list is well deserved indeed.