Monday, 25 July 2011

Review: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Dear blog,
I'm sorry I haven't done any posts in over a week.  I was ill last week, and so I was incapable of writing anything vaguely intelligent about the books I had read.

Summary (from Goodreads): For Nick Pardee and Silla Kennicot, the cemetery is the center of everything.
Nick is a city boy angry at being forced to move back to the nowhere town of Yaleylah, Missouri where he grew up. He can’t help remembering his mom and the blood magic she practiced – memories he’s tried for five years to escape. Silla, though, doesn’t want to forget; her parents’ apparent murder-suicide left her numb and needing answers. When a book of magic spells in her dad’s handwriting appears on her doorstep, she sees her chance to unravel the mystery of their deaths.
Together they plunge into the world of dark magic, but when a hundred-year-old blood witch comes hunting for the bones of Silla’s parents and the spell book, Nick and Silla will have to let go of everything they believe about who they are, the nature of life and death, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood.

Review:  I was quite looking forward to reading this book before I started it as I'd read a lot of positive reviews and there was a good deal of hype buzzing around cyberspace about it.  And although when I started the book I did have some reservations about it, once things got going I really enjoyed it.
It was quite a refreshing sort of book, and it seemed quite different from a lot of the paranormal novels that I've read.  It was certainly a lot darker than some of them.  Also, it pleased me that the romance between Silla and Nick wasn't the centre of the story. 

I wasn't so sure about either Nick or Silla at the beginning of the story, just because the way they came together seemed a bit... clichéd.  Girl with a dark, tragic past; mysterious new boy in town with some dark secrets of his own; it seemed a little overdone.  Also, there was very little distinction between their voices. As a general rule I love books with multiple or alternating points of view, but there isn't much point to them if you can't tell who's talking.  The only thing that gave me indication as to who was telling the story was that Nick swore more. Still, they were both pretty cool characters, and aside from their pasts and the way they came together, they weren't really flat or boring.

While I'm talking about Nick and Silla, I had better talk about their relationship. This is one of the things I wasn't so keen on.  It was just so...rushed, like just because fate seemed to have an awful lot to do with how they came together, they didn't really need to take that much time to initially get to know each other.  One week after they met each other they're already together and he's calling her "babe" all the time? Really? Speaking of which, I really didn't like the "babe" thing.  It made me cringe.   But, aside from those things, they were pretty sweet together and got on well.  There was none of that stalking and watching-you-sleep-at-night business. Also, Silla continued to have a life and pursue hobbies (I feel like I read a lot of books where the main character has no other interests except, well, her love interest) and wasn't one of those characters who must spend all day and all night with her loved one.

The writing style is another thing that I'm not so sure about.  The way that the story flowed from one thing to another was fine, but I don't think some of the word choices were the best, especially with some of the similes, for instance "My brain whirred like a toy helicopter" and "...Like I was being flushed down a toilet" and the metaphor "He was Mephistopheles, smiling and tempting me, his Dr. Faustus, to dance."  Comparing breathlessness to a broken air mattress kind of interrupts the flow of the story, and left me pondering the awkwardness of it for a minute.

It's a pretty dark book, and not at all for the faint-hearted.  I didn't have much of a problem with this because I'm not generally a squeamish person, although I do think that the beheading/killing of the rabbit was unnecessary and really added nothing to the story.  Small, fluffy animals should not die for no apparent reason.  Anyway, it was quite toe-curling and deliciously creepy in some places, and totally one of those books to read in the middle of the night with a torch. The whole book drips with  is full of blood, curses and possession.  I also liked the extracts from Josephine's diary; it didn't make much sense in relation to the story at first, but then as the story went on and more secrets about Nick and Silla's pasts were revealed, it seemed to be a lot more involved in the plot.  Speaking of the plot, it has a totally excellent twist, which was way too cool.  Also, the tension throughout the book really built up to the conclusion, which was entirely enthralling. I couldn't put the book down for the last 150 pages.

So, aside from a few things here and there, I really enjoyed Blood Magic.  Tessa Gratton is a promising author and I look forward to reading more from her.
In three words:  exciting, dark, promising.
recommended for: Girls who don't mind blood.
Rating: 3.5

Thank you to Random House UK for sending me a copy to review.

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