Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blood Magic (The Blood Journals), By Tessa Gratton- Review

Don't let the sub title confuse you (the Blood Journals), according to Tessa Gratton's site this is a stand alone novel.  To quote Jeff Hirsch from the Speed dating with children's and YA authors "I know right? Probably the only stand alone book on the planet" (of course he was talking about his own, but it's the reaction these days to anything that, egads! isn't part of a series).  Stand alone's are pretty appealing in a book; a fully wrapped up story contained in one book, already in your hands?  No waiting for a sequel, or part three, two or three years down the road?  I'm in.

Now mix that with an almost Poe like story done up YA style and you'll start to see why people like Maggie Stiefvater are swooning over this tale.

From Tessa Gratton's website:

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.....
I liked so many elements of this story totally in and of themselves but how they came together was fresh, exciting and what made Blood Magic it's own animal in the realm of YA paranormal fiction.  Both Nick and Silla are really unique characters.  They have no interest in what others at school think of them and quickly become the pariahs of their high schools hierarchy. One of my favourite Nick moments is when he shows up to barn party wearing a pinstriped suit and a fedora.  I grew up in Saskatchewan, and while I might have been a city girl, I can fully appreciate how strong an individual he would need to be to even consider doing that let alone pulling it off.  And honestly, when he later ploughs through a damp field and considers for the first time that his dress shoes weren't the best choice, I was sold.  He's possibly my favourite male character, in YA, since Jace and that's saying something.
Tessa goes full out dark with the story and doesn't wimp out with the usual halfway measures.  Characters die, things get messy and screwed up in a way that's not fixable, and the line between good and evil definitely blurs from time to time.  The horror elements pack excellent punch as well.  Reams of reanimated dead animals, ghoulish grave robbing and an evil force to be reckoned with, who only slowly reveals herself through journal entries.  I loved being dragged through the drama, sometimes grossed out but always on the edge of my seat, and dying for more.
The flavour of this book was, as I've said, very Poe-ish, lots of horror, a little bit of the requisite teen romance, and a very dark atmosphere.  It came together beautifully and was a thoroughly enjoyable read.  I can hardly wait until next year when the companion novel The Blood Keeper comes out (also a stand alone).  May she inspire more YA authors to test the bounds with their novels.
Blood Magic (The Blood Journals), by Tessa Gratton
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers, May 2011
Check out Tessa's website
Buy Blood Magic on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I can't wait to read this! I have an ARC but haven't got round to reading it yet.