Rating : ★ ★ ★ 1/2
TW: Suicide, Death of a Parent, Death of a Family Member, Blood, Animal Cruelty (On Page)
The small leather book arrived wrapped in paper, the writing within is that of Drusilla’s dead father without a return address for anyone other than The Deacon. Within were spells, woven in intricate Latin with a common ingredient. Blood.
Nick had moved into his late Grandfather’s farmhouse next door to a cemetery. The girl he found there awakened memories he had long buried, his mother’s fingers wrapped in bandages from the bloodletting and the impossible sight paper brought to fluttering life. A magic that itched to resurface as he got closer to Silla and begun to appreciate it as a gift and not the sick mind of his mother.
The two, bound by fate, something stronger than blood, must fight the evil that took Silla’s parents away from her.
This is a tough one to review because I did appreciate it for all that it was, but it was really nothing like I was expecting. This book is 2011 YA, so we’re talking close to the Twilight phase and the resurgence of paranormal. I went in thinking it would be that same melodramatic feel with a dip into the shallow end of blood magic. I was wrong.
There are some clear influences to the genre, the relationship between Nick and Silla IS insta-love and kind of hard to believe, but I have realized in some stories insta-love is almost like shorthand and I can forgive it if the romance takes a backseat to the plot.
Nick and Silla are clearly bonded and yes, he does start to call her “Babe” the same night they shared their first kiss, but their romance isn’t much more than shared secrets and hormones. There isn’t this feeling of pining past the melodrama of young love which I can get behind. Magic exists. The world feels like it’s ending, hell, the guy is cute. Go for it, Silla.
Another thing I appreciated in this book was the ample twists. There is a looming baddie that can possess people with blood magic and for the longest time I was wondering which of the three women it would end up being. One was clearly the red herring, but she still stuck in my mind. I was immediately tipped off when she slipped, but it felt organic if that even makes sense.
What really pulled me out of the story happened around the third act, I felt that things began to drag a little after their first fight with the baddie, but it wasn’t about pacing or a missed story beat just the stakes were a little to high to keep the tension for me and the end wasn’t that satisfying.
This being Tessa Gratton’s first book, I’m not writing her off whatsoever. I’m still going to return to this world with the sequel and continue on with her other books as soon as I can get my hands on them.
At the end of the day. This book felt A LOT like a My Chemical Romance song and I mean that with no disrespect. Star-crossed lovers, a spooky small town atmosphere and hanging out at the cemetery. With all it’s rough edges, I can see the bigger picture and it’s brilliant. I can’t wait to see how Tessa Gratton’s writing has matured.
For anyone that cares. This was my 400th book read in total. A major personal milestone for me.