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Silla has been left traumatised by the violent and bloody death of her parents, particularly as it was she who found their bodies. The whole town believe it was her Father, who killed his wife then turned a gun on himself, but Silla knows this isn't true. When a mysterious book once belonging to him turns up, Silla hopes to discover more about her Father's past and prove his innocence.
But the book will lead Silla onto an even darker path. As she dabbles with the spells within, she awakens an ancient and dangerous magic. Someone else has an interest in the book too, someone who won't give up until it's in their hands. Silla is in grave danger, not only from the mysterious book and the person who want's it for themselves, but from the secrets it will reveal that will shatter her past and shape her future.
Wow, wow, and wow I LOVED this book. I'd had it sitting on my to read pile a while and although I was looking forward to it, I wasn't desperately excited about it. So when I turned to the first page I wasn't expecting to be anywhere near as gripped as I was. Combining two of my favourite styles - duel narrative and flashback diary entries, along with a dark tale and passionate romance, this book was pretty near perfect for me.
And boy is this one dark, possibly one of the darkest YA PNR books I've read. Warning: if blood makes you squeamish in the slightest this book may not be for you. As the title suggests it features pretty often in the book, with some gruesome scenes and descriptions of blood letting it's definitely not for the faint hearted.
I loved the duel narrative between main characters Silla and Nick and found the frequent switch, sometimes a few times per chapter, kept me hooked to the story. The romance between the pair does come quick and is immediately intense and passionate, but in this instance it really worked. Not only because they have a common trait to bond over but because we see the relationship develop from both sides. Silla is genuinely messed up, not just angsty, with the tragic and violent death of her parents haunting her...yet she's still feisty, brave and determined. I found her believable and sympathised with her easily. Nick is prickly, moody, and passionate with a penchant for poetry, which didn't come across as contrived... and hot! Yup I could totally see why they fell for each other so hard and quickly.
My favourite parts however where the frequent diary entries from the past, courtesy of Josephine Darley. At first they seem harmless, a way to inform the reader of the ritual of Blood Magic, but as the book moves on Josephine's story clearly becomes integral to the present day plot...only how remains a mystery right up until the end. As much care is given to this character's development as it is to Silla and Nick, and with each entry grows more and more dangerous and sinister. I loved it!
"Blood Magic" was certainly a fresh and exciting read, with beautiful prose, a sinister dark plot and fantastic character development throughout...not to mention the intense romance! I devoured this book over two sittings... I couldn't tear myself away and quickly that `little bit more' turned into over a hundred pages. If you like your paranormal dark and addicting, then I can't recommend "Blood Magic" enough although would caution younger readers as in my opinion it sits firmly at the upper age of YA fiction with a definite adult crossover appeal.
Published by Random House Childrens Books July 2011
Synopsis: From Amazon - a spoiler free preview & background to the story.
The murder of her parents has left Silla damaged and lost, and Silla's insistence that her father is not to blame only alienates her further from her friends and family. When a mysterious spell book arrives, Silla hopes it will lead to some answers about her parents' killer. In her first attempt at magic, in an old graveyard near her home, Nick, the new boy in town spies on her; he recognizes the magic that Silla is performing as the same magic his mother performed with him, before she went mad.
Before long, Silla and Nick connect, though Nick is unwilling to share his history with blood magic with Silla. When Silla's friends start showing signs of possession, Silla, Nick and Silla's brother, Reese, must contend with a deadly, immortal woman who will stop at nothing to take the book of spells from them.
I was a little apprehensive about this book - why you ask - because I am so squeamish and hate the sight of blood. Remember I have a technicolour imagination so gory stuff really does come alive for me. I was assured by the lovely ladies at Random House that I would be fine.
The beginning is very bold and dramatic with incredible use of white space. Sucking you into the story. Written in first person narrative with alternating perspectives of Silla and Nicholas. There is a multi-layered plot with the two of them at the centre, everything else revolves around them. Although I have to mention that using the word blood and Silla's full name (Drusilla) immediately had me thinking of Buffy. The way in which events paralleled between Nicholas and Silla added to their relationship as well as developing the plot.
Be warned there are shocking revelations, double the mysteries and a multi-layered plot. It takes some serious writing skill to pull this story off, Tessa Gratton accomplishes this with ease.
All of the characters are interesting in their own right, with complex personalities, shaped by events to a degree. The portrayal of the archetypal wicked stepmother, even down to the biblical nickname that Nicholas gave her, added an air of humour to the prose, lightening the mood in places and providing an alternative villain to keep you guessing. Red herrings and misdirection abound, I found myself constantly double guessing myself and covering all the bases lol. The tiny illustrations on the pages take on a whole new meaning as the story unfolds.
The introduction of diary extracts and later letters containing details of the past and circumstances that have culminated in the present situation. Differentiated by italic and font, not only do they draw the eye but they really add depth and understanding to the plot.
The writing style is opulently descriptive encompassing all the senses (not good for me when there is blood involved *faints*). I especially liked the description/analogue of emotions being like masks defined by their colour, shape and decoration. Something we can all probably relate to - wearing a mask to cover our emotions - at some time or another.
I found myself sniggering at the use of NARKOTIKA as the name of a band featured in the story. How totally brilliant is that. Alongside the literary/theatre references the round out the plot beautifully.
As the story progressed I found myself wondering at the amount of power that can be tapped into, would it corrupt them. You have to have a certain amount of inner strength to resist the temptation of eternal life. Silla and Nicholas support each other, the chemistry between almost set the book on fire [ : D ] yet you have the feeling that the connection goes beyond that. I have to admit that as I was reading Einstein's theory of relativity kept crossing my mind - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction - for life there has to be death.
Although I did enjoy the book, there was a large amount of descriptions about blood *shudders* and I have to say I did not like one really significant part of the book, it made me too sad even though the portrayal and reasoning was impeccable. This book really is something different; I recommend you read it for yourself and not be a pansy about blood like me [ : D ]
Blood Magic, the first book in The Blood Journals series by Tessa Gratton was released on 7th July by Random House and the book is 416 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review.
Since the death of her parents, Silla Kennicott sees a lot of blood. She can't stop thinking about what really happened and what the police are saying happened. When a mysterious book arrives in the mail. Silla's whole life is turned upside down. Apparently, there was a lot more to her father than she could have ever imagined. He did magic. Blood Magic!
While trying to figure out who her father really was, Silla meets Nick, the new guy in town. Finding Silla in a cemetery should have totally freaked Nick out, especially when he saw what she was doing but he calmer than anyone else would have been. He already knows about the magic. While Silla and Nick get closer, they realise that someone else in town knows about their secret and the magic and they will do anything it takes to get the book from Silla!
What I thought
Blood Magic was one of my most anticipated books of the year and as soon as I heard about it, I immediately knew I had to read it. Attending a Random House blogger event only made me want this book more after hearing more about it. From the very first page, Tessa Gratton's beautiful writing stands out from anything else I have ever read. Her words drew me straight into the story and I felt immersed the complex and interesting world that she created. Blood Magic is dually narrated between main characters, Silla and Nick.
It isn't very often that I fully love a female main character but Silla was an exception. I felt so much for Silla and the things she had been put through/ experienced and that was before the book actually got into full swing. Silla has had far from an easy life and with the death of her mother and father, nothing seems to be getting better. The whole town where Silla lives has one idea about what happened to her parents but she refuses to believe them, causing some tension and confliction between her and other people. Having to deal with the death of your parents must be bad enough but then having to cope with everything else must have pushed Silla over the edge. I could completely understand why Silla reacted to some things in certain ways and I think I would probably do the same.
I was really happy for Silla once Nick turned up. She was in desperate need of cheering up and I think Nick was the perfect solution to this. They had instant chemistry that was extremely hot but I still wanted so much more from them. Knowing how each was feeling towards the other, I think this part of the story could have been expanded on but knowing that there are going to be further books in the series put my mind at ease a little bit. There was also a fair amount of funny/ cheeky banter between Silla and Nick due to their personalities. This was a really good thing as it lightened up the story and times where it was all getting a little bit too serious.
As soon as Nick arrived in the story, I fell a little bit in love with him. Instantly, I could tell that there was something different about this guy and wanted to find out what he was all about. Nick has a great personality, which only made me like him more. He was cheeky and a little bit full of himself in all of the right places but there was much more to him than what I originally thought. As much as I loved this side of Nick, I also loved the way he was with Silla. Nick was able to show a much deeper side of his personality and I truly believed that he really felt something meaningful for Silla. Nick also has quite a bit of a past even though he doesn't really remember all of it. I loved these parts of the story as it gave Nick's character much more depth than him just being a hot and charismatic teenage guy.
The whole idea of Blood Magic was extremely interesting, if not a little hard to read at times. This is a book that is not for the feint hearted and even though I can take quite a lot, some of the scenes were a little hard for me to get through. That being said, Gratton writes in such a way that doesn't make the blood letting seem sick or wrong at any time. I think it was more the whole idea of blood that grossed me out a little bit rather than the actual Blood Magic. I really enjoyed the parts of the story which were told from the point of view of a diary. These parts really added more depth to the plot and made it all feel more real. The fact that the Blood Magic had a whole background and history made everything about this book more exciting for me. I wanted to know to exact point of origin of the magic, who could do it and why they could do it. The character who wrote the diary also gave the story another dimension and a new and fresh voice compared to the rest of it.
Blood Magic has so much going for it and I completely loved reading it. There is plenty of mystery which provided action and tense moments between many of the characters. The pacing was fantastic, with exciting and fast plot twists which kept me guessing throughout. There was a few times where I kept changing my mind about what was going to happen next and I loved this. I felt as if, no matter what I thought, anything could happen next and I didn't see some things coming at all. I am so happy that this book lived up to my expectations and I will be wanting the second book in the series as soon as it is available. A must read!