Saturday, August 25, 2012

ARC Review: The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

The Blood Keeper 
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2012)

Description: Paranormal romance fans who are looking to up the ante will be drawn to this tale of horror, fantasy, and romance. 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.

My Thoughts: THE BLOOD KEEPER is breathtaking. Gratton weaves three viewpoint characters into a story of love, magic, and menace. Two of the characters are named and one slowly reveals herself to us as the story progresses.

Mab is the newly chosen Deacon after the death of her mentor and father figure Arthur. His last directive to her was to destroy a bed of roses that was tended by his late wife. Mab has grown up under Arthur's tutelage learning magic and tending the land by renewing wards and ending curses. Her magic is based on bloodletting and powered by her blood. In an effort to learn about the rose bed before destroying it she creates a homunculus to tell her what the roses' secrets are. It escapes and Mab has to chase it.

Enter Will who is in the summer before his senior year, grieving the death of his brother Aaron, coming to terms with being a reluctant hero after saving a friend from drowning, and trying to plan his own future which conflicts with the future in the military that has been laid out for him. Saving his friend from drowning has left him with nightmares which he attempts to combat by revisiting the scene. There he encounters the homunculus and, while trying to subdue it, gets injured by it. Will and Mab meet and his is fascinated by her unique approach to life. Will soon gets sick with a strange illness and goes to Mab for help. He has taken on the curse and Mab tries magical means to cleanse him.

The story is told with each chapter from a different point of view. The third point of view begins with an unnamed narrator. It tells of that person coming to live with Gabriel and Arthur after a magical accident that left her an orphan. She is looking for a home and a place of peace. It is pretty clear that this portion of the story takes place in the past. We gradually learn about the two men and their different approaches to magic. We also watch our narrator - now identified as Evelyn Sonnenschein - fall in love with Arthur and see him love her in return. And we see Gabriel come in and out of their lives and watch his jealousy grow until he tries to do the unthinkable.

When the two story lines - past and present - come together the tension and danger amps up for Mab and Will. I was fascinated by the blood magic which was the center of Mab's life. This system of magic was very realistic. I loved that magic wasn't easy and that it had a cost. I also loved that both Mab and Will did a lot of self-exploration in this story and that both grew during the course of it.

The writing was emotional and descriptive. Each character had a unique voice and writing style. I wouldn't have needed the chapter titles to know who was speaking. I think my young adult lovers of the paranormal will really enjoy this story. I can't wait to share it with them.

Favorite Quote (taken from the ARC and may not be final):
"Mab." I grabbed her shoulders. "What." I hunched over to put my eyes right level with hers. "Are." I pulled her closer. "You--talking--about?"

Mab smiled with her teeth. "Magic."

"Magic," I repeated. I didn't let her go. I was too stuck.

Her grin faded until it was only a pretty smile. Mab cupped her hands between us. "Magic," she said again. And a ball of fire sparked to life in her palms.

I threw myself back, hit the table hard with my hip.
I got this eARC from Random House Books for Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. This doesn't sound like my kind of story, but I agree that there are many teens that it will appeal to. I'll have to put that one on my "to purchase" list. Great review!


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