It starts off so simply.
Draw a circle...place a dead lead in the center...sprinkle some salt...recite a little Latin...add a drop of blood...
Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family - even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep...and spill some blood.
The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes that this may not be Nick's first encounter with blood magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby - waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.
Tessa Gratton's intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.
That last sentence there? Exactly right. It describes how I feel about Blood Magic perfectly! I lost my breath reading this book. Even just thinking about it now, after I've finished, is making my heart skip a beat. It is just that good.
We meet Silla Kennicott in the old cemetery by her house, sitting at the graves of her parents. She's received a mysterious book from someone calling themselves The Deacon, a book full of spells written in her father's hand. Each spell requires blood. Since finding her parents dead, their blood splattered everywhere, Silla isn't handling thoughts of blood well. Still, she tries what appears to be a simple spell and learns that magic is very real. But how was her father involved? And does it have something to do with his death? At the same time she meets Nick, who has his own memories of blood and magic. Their attraction feels like the magic and they can't help but be drawn to each other. Yet something very dark lingers in the cemetery, and it will stop at nothing to get everything it wants.
I really, really liked Silla, from page one. She's as real as a character in a book can get for me. I could see her and I felt for her - and with her - throughout the entire story. Honestly, I felt that way about most of the characters, they all jumped out of the page at me. I loved Silla's faith in her family. That no matter the evidence or the talk of those around her, she always believed in her father. She had real strength. Every time she conjured an imaginary mask to hide her true feelings behind I'd physically react - I'd sigh, I'd bite my lip, I'd clench my fingers around the book. I'd even imagine myself wearing the mask. I lost myself in Gratton's characters and world, that's for sure.
I also adored Nick. His sense of humour and dress style were fantastic, and I loved how he'd write haiku's. I instantly liked him and the way he could see straight through Silla's masks. And their romance. Wowza! Their attraction was so intense that I'd have to shake myself out of a stupor sometimes! Seriously, some of their kissing scenes - ok, all of them - were so burning hot I was afraid my book was going to catch on fire! I'm getting a little flushed just thinking about it now, so let's move on, shall we? As much as Nick rocked, however, Silla can keep him because me? I want Reese, her older brother. The smarts, the looks, the vulnerability, his interactions with Silla, all of it - he's beautiful and I'm a little in love. Even when he'd lost faith in his father, he still believed in Silla, or at the least loved her enough to want her to have her faith. I'm sighing here, can you tell? Gram Judy also deserves a mention. Now there's an awesome woman and Grandmother, she kept me grinning!
Lastly, I loved Josephine. I loved to hate her too. I couldn't help but love the way she talked, and acted, and her diary entries. She leapt off the page, she was so full of confidence. It also helped that Tessa recorded videos of herself reciting - acting! - a few of Josephine's diary entries. I'd watched these long before I read the book, and so right from the beginning I wanted to know about Josephine. She truly came alive in my imagination.
A lot of Blood Magic came alive for me. The atmosphere of this book is undeniable, it took a hold of me and I'm afraid it still hasn't let go. Gratton's writing is stunning, seeped in feeling so that every word left a mark. Her descriptions of the cemetery, the animals, the feeling of being watched, it all took my breath away. Literally. I read much of this book in the middle of the night with a book light, the house pitch black around me. I am not ashamed to admit that a few times while reading I got goosebumps, and so creeped out that I'd shine the light around my room. Just to check I was still alone, you know? Usually it's mostly the characters that make a book for me, and while Gratton certainly has that in spades, the world of this book, every feeling it evoked, is going to stay with me for a good long while.
The plot of Blood Magic moves along at a fast pace. If I could have I would've read it in one sitting because I never wanted to put it down. Those pages practically turned themselves, I was so eager to know what would happen next, especially the last 100 or so pages. I was even able to ignore my dog barking at me to play ball with him because I simply had to finish it NOW! A few of it's revelations were unexpected and surprising, which I enjoyed. At one point I was so stunned I just sat and stared at the page for a minute, reminding myself to breathe. Which is brilliant, but personally I'm unhappy about it (I feel like stomping my foot here, like a child. Why, Tessa, why?!). You'll know if or when you read it. I did however figure out Josephine's identity pretty early on, but it didn't effect my reading of the rest of the book at all. It wrapped up many of it's early questions neatly, though there are still some left unanswered ready for the next book. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out more about Nick's Mum, Donna, and The Deacon. I don't doubt Gratton has many surprises in store for us yet!
Overall, Blood Magic was a thrilling and atmospheric read that I lost myself in. I still don't think I've fully caught my breath! I'd been waiting to read it for months and it did not disappoint in anyway. I'm already desperate to read The Blood Keeper, the next book in the series!
Publisher: Random House
Published Date: 24 May 2011
Series: The Blood Journals #1
Challenges: 2011 Debut Author Challenge