The Blood Keeperby Tessa Gratton
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
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.
"The power of this narrative lies in the gorgeous prose, lush with a gothic sensibility, ripe with sensual images of horrific beauty. . . . Passion, heartbreak, yearning and dread bleed from every page. A perfect book for those who loved Wuthering Heights and are looking for an essentially American gothic."--Kirkus Reviews
Blood and roses, love and death, past and present, the mundane and the magical; all intertwine in this dark fantasy, a stand-alone companion to the well-received Blood Magic (2011). Will Sanger, high school soccer star, only wanted to free himself from his recurrent nightmares. Mab Prowd, neophyte guardian of the blood magic, only wanted to understand the curse buried beneath her rose garden. But when their choices bind their fates together, an old love story and a long-concealed crime begin to creep into the present. As Will is forced to confront his family's recent tragedy and the demands of their expectations, Mab is called upon to devise rituals and seize powers well beyond her training. Their alternating perspectives interweave to form a nightmare of steadily building desire, obsession, sacrifice and violence. The power of this narrative lies in the gorgeous prose, lush with a gothic sensibility, ripe with sensual images of horrific beauty. . . . It's all about feeling: Passion, heartbreak, yearning and dread bleed from every page. A perfect book for those who loved Wuthering Heights and are looking for an essentially American gothic.
Mab Prowd's blood magic is an essential part of her. Her new leadership role as deacon, however, is proving difficult to grow into. She is now responsible for the magical upkeep of acres of land and for the well-being of her extensive magical family, all while still grieving the loss of her beloved mentor, the former deacon. Will Sanger, a typical high school student, has suffered recent traumas that have made him question his previously well-ordered existence. When Will and Mab meet, they are unexpectedly bound together by the evil of an old curse and must fight for both their freedom and to find their places in the world. This is a companion novel to the excellent Blood Magic (Random House, 2011/VOYA June 2011). Mab and Will are new, but characters from the first volume of the series do play a part in this story. Mab and Will narrate in alternating chapters, each speaking with a believable, interesting voice. This is a paranormal story, full of magic and curses, but it is also a coming-of-age tale. The writing is lyrical and dark, deftly evoking both tragedy and beauty. The characters are well drawn and sympathetic. The plot is nicely paced, moving along with a perfect balance of suspense, excitement, and introspection. Will and Mab grow a great deal on their journey together, as they explore the nature of responsibility and sacrifice. This book will be eagerly anticipated by fans of the first novel and is a must for any collection that serves readers of paranormal fiction.
Read an Excerpt
This is a love letter.
And a confession.
The last thing the Deacon said to me before he died was, “Destroy those roses.”
I stood before them at dawn, the rising sun behind me turning the red petals into fire, and I lifted my knife.
For five weeks I’d tried to kill them. I’d attacked with a trowel, and a heavy shovel, digging at their roots. They’d thrashed with furious life, cutting my skin and flinging drops of my blood against the ground.
Then I’d set them on fire with a flick of my wrist. But the twisting vines refused to burn. My blue and orange flames danced along their leaves and thorns while the wind rushed all around, tossing fire toward the forest. I’d had to extinguish it before the entire hill caught alight.
Next I’d lain down beside them under a full moon and listened to their whispers. All night long the stars wheeled overhead and I felt the earth cracking and shifting underneath me as it turned.
Mab, the roses whispered. Free us.
I rolled over and pressed my cheek into the dirt. I grasped one of the rose vines until the thorns pricked through my skin. Pain and magic spilled from my palm and into their roots, and Arthur’s voice echoed in my memory: All the blood is yours now, Mab, all the beauty of the world. Take it.
Shoving off the ground, I backed up toward the edge of the garden until my heels hit the wooden vegetable box where baby tomatoes grew.
The next day I asked Donna if she knew anything about the roses, and she only explained about pruning and mold and fertilizer. I called Faith, who lived in town, and she said one of the reasons she moved her family off the blood land was because Hannah woke crying and blamed her nightmares on the roses. And Granny Lyn, whose garden it had been until she died last autumn, had never allowed any of us to tend it without her.
There had been a secret planted under my bedroom window all my life.
I knew I should have spent my time creating a spell to burn the curse away, to turn the roses into ash and spread the pieces on the wind and on the river.
It’s what Arthur told me to do.
But that isn’t what I chose.
Here, at dawn, with my knife poised over the seven-point-star tattoo protecting my wrist, I stood facing the garden, and beside me lay a man-sized doll created of mud and bone, so that I might ask the roses a question.
A scratching on the window gable behind me drew my attention to the large crow perched there. “Morning,” I whispered. “Is Donna still asleep?”
He ruffled his feathers in an affirmative shrug.
“Where are your brothers?”
He chucked his head back and barked. Eleven more crows leapt out of the forest at the edge of our yard. Their wings flapped in unison as they swooped low overhead, washing me with damp spring air. I could feel hair curling against the back of my neck as they raised the humidity.
The flock landed around me in a semicircle, not too near the roses, their heads cocked at the same angle. One hopped forward and tapped his beak against the jar I’d set on the grass.
Inside was the heart and liver of a deer that would help give life to my doll.
Nine days ago I’d built a trap marked by runes across a well-traveled deer path, and finally, yesterday, there’d been a young buck caught in the circle. He was unable to free himself from the lines of magic weaving through the trees, and his delicate hooves stomped the ground. I stood against a walnut tree, shoulder pressed hard enough into the bark that it tore at my skin through my shirt. The buck’s antlers were just beginning to press up through his head, tiny nubs of velvety bone. He stared at me with his black eyes, snorted, and reared back as if to challenge me.
“Thank you for what you’re giving me,” I told him.
I’d pricked my finger and clapped my hands together. The spell sucked the breath from his lungs.
That had been the cleanest part. I used Arthur’s old hunting knife to slit the buck’s belly and drag out the bloody insides. They spilled onto the grass as slippery as fish. His blood caught in the creases of my palms, and I rubbed them down on his still-warm neck.
I took the heart and the liver, tucking them gently into an old glass gallon jar. I twisted closed the lid and painted a star rune on top with the deer’s blood. Then I closed his eyes and ran my finger along his short black lashes.
“May you find grace,” I whispered.
And I left him for the vultures and coyotes.
Meet the Author
TESSA GRATTON has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. She was too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, and then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog.
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