Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Book Review of The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine

Series: Ravenspire (Book 2)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 12, 2019)
Page Count: 448 pages

After reading the Shadow Queen, I knew I had to read more CJ Redwine so are Realm Makers bought the Blood Spell! I love Redwine’s style of fairytale retellings and her writing journey really resonates with me and gives me hope for success in my writing. Without further ado let’s check this Cinderella retelling!

The Plot: This one took me a little longer to get into than the Shadow Queen but I did eventually get into it and I especially loved the climax and how that tied into the original fairytale. A few things didn’t jive with me as well like Dinah’s forgery seemed to take too much effort to get through or the magic seemed a little inconsistent. I did guess one of the big twists but I really like it and was hoping that my guess was correct haha. 

The Characters: I really like the main character Blue. I really related to her a lot. I like how Redwine’s MCs are less emotional and impulsive but more level-headed and thoughtful. Blue runs through her head a lot of her daily tasks to organize her thoughts and I really get that because I do that all. The. Time. She also really likes to stick to the rules and hates cleaning (funny irony). I also love that she loves alchemy which is always my favorite thing when playing video games. I’m realizing more and more how similar Blue and I are ... I also really love that she has a kitty named Peperrell and he’s adorable. When Pepperell wakes her up in the morning it made me laugh because that’s life living with a cat. I also think her reaction to living under an abusive guardian was really realistic. How she felt helpless. 

Kellan is very multidimensional and I really love that about him. He comes across as the typical troublemaker but reveals himself to be a clever and caring prince. I like how he straightened up and took responsibility when he realized how much was at stake. I just really overall enjoy more responsible YA characters, because I relate to that more and I would have as a teenager if I read them at that age. His relationship with his sister is also really sweet. 

Okay, Hansel and Gretel being monster hunters is just epic and I really want to read more about them in another book. 

Dinah aka the Evil Stepmother has much more motivation than the typical fairytale retelling. She’s a very scary villain and her abuse toward Blue was very chilling. 

The Setting: I love how Redwine took a twist on the normal betrothal trope. She made finding a wife have way more stakes particularly politically and even life and death. I liked the reason that Blue has to hide her powers on account of the witch who became a very evil wraith and I like that that iron is used to cancel out magic like in old lore. 

Epic Things: This isn’t exactly epic but I thought the fight scene between Dina and Blue near the climax was very realistic. It felt more like a real fight. 

The Theme: Like in the Shadow of Queen, grief is a big theme in this book as well. Blue deals with the death of her father throughout the book along with Kellan who lost his father years ago. But they find solace in each other because they don’t have to pretend to be normal. Blue even manages to relate to one of her stepsisters because Halette just lost her father too. But the phrase that struck me that most was from Blue when she stated how being around happy people made her feel worse. I really really resonate with that, but I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere. But being around people who are happy and fine makes me feel terrible when I’m feeling depressed for whatever reason. 

Content Cautions: Dinah is very abusive toward Blue. She hits her and emotionally abuses her. There is also a gritty fight between the two of them involving broken pottery. A man is burned to death with magical fire and some children’s corpses are found desiccated. So there is a little gore and disturbing imagery to take note of. 

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

Formatting Another Language - Kellan’s younger sister Nessa is mute so she speaks with sign language. Any time she spoke or Blue or Kellan spoke to her in sign language what they said would be italicized. I thought this was a really neat way to communicate that they were saying something but not verbally. 

How this can be applied to writing: Formatting other languages can be very difficult. It’s hard to get someone to picture someone saying something in their head but it isn’t in their language or it isn't spoken aloud in the case of sign language and telepathy. Italics used the right way can be a great way to communicate this difference in communication. 

Conclusion: Overall, though it took me a little bit to get into it, I really enjoyed this book. Four Inukshuks!

About the Author: C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and any movie starring Johnny Depp. She is also the author of the Defiance trilogy. If the novel-writing gig ever falls through, she'll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children.

Other books by this author I've reviewed:
The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

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