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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.
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.
Posted December 17, 2012
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reading the reviews beforehand I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy this book as much as I did Blood Magic. However, after reading this book I am so grateful that I took a chance. I disagree with the reviews I saw, and I thought this was an incredible story.
I absolutely fell in love with Mab from the beginning, while quirky she had a very thoughtful soul, unlike her mother in Blood Magic. These 2 characters are nothing alike and I found Mab to be refreshing. I enjoyed the story line that transpired between Mab and Will, and enjoyed small glimpses of Nick and Silla.
I loved this book and I really hope that there is more to come from Tessa Gratton. :)
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Posted September 11, 2013
Poetically haunting, gorgeous prose, and unseen magic in the natural world provide a fantastic sequel to Book I, BLOOD MAGIC.
From my opening statement, you can probably conclude the direction my opinion of this book will go. It. Was. Awesome. And for many reasons.
At the onset, Mab seemed torn, struggling to figure out herself, her family, and her purpose in life. The difference from this natural teenage mental battle was Mab's real struggle revolved around strange roses that could not be destroyed. First impression of Mab was creepy, which I personally liked. The scene permeated in eerie fog, but teased my curiosity to continue reading. She was just plain interesting, strange, and different. And although the story's beginnings were slow - at least for me, I soon recognized the need for such a start. Gratton had to give the reader a large amount of information in order to properly set up the story.
As facts fed me, a picture of nature's invisible mist and magic blotted to the surface, posing questions of nature itself and what might truly be there that we ignore everyday. It wasn't long before I honestly couldn't put the book down.
This tale was superbly written. A story within a story, love story within a love story, and a mystery within a mystery purposely mingled throughout the pages to bring the past to the present and the future to new possibilities. Elements were strategically revealed through three POV characters, who gave interesting views of nature's magic and the world it creates. Mab and Will shared their world of the present, while a mysterious third party unearthed the past and history of the land Mab lived on.
I got a completely different feel for the story, depending on which point-of view I was seeing through - Mab or Will's. Mab covered the odd and almost ominous sense and subjects, while Will felt easy, average, and normal. Opposites attract, right?
And in closing: after reading The Blood Keeper and discovering it was book II in a series, I went out and bought book I, BLOOD MAGIC. I did not regret that purchase.
Posted February 24, 2013
Posted September 18, 2012
Although fantasy readers may find some very interesting scenes in this tale, the problem I found is that out of the two story lines presented - past and present - the past was the one that was far more interesting.
When we begin, readers meet up with Mab Prowd in a quiet, almost deserted area of Kansas. Her life revolves around magic and she’s currently trying to kill rose bushes that are on the property. She’s been trying for some time, and for those who don’t know, killing roses are almost like trying to kill a vampire - extremely difficult. Mab was told by her now deceased benefactor that she must destroy them, yet they seem to be cursed. What she hasn’t figured out yet is why. Using a spell, after a very disgusting sacrifice, Mab creates what you would call a doll-like monster who races away from the property.
Will is a young man who’s sitting by a lake. Will recently saved a girl from drowning in this particular lake, and he is trying to get over the fear that still resides in his soul. While there, a huge doll-like monster makes his appearance and Will ends up killing the thing. Unfortunately, he also ends up catching a curse that a female stranger will need to help him with.
Will has enough problems without getting involved with Mab. He has a very dedicated family - dedicated to the marines - and his father and brother want him to join up and make that his only pathway in life. However, his other brother, Aaron, found only death while in the armed forces and Will truly doesn’t want to head into that dark, frightening future.
Mab has her own difficulties. As the Deacon of a place that takes care of people with a magical bent, she is also brought a young boy who has a major curse set on him by his father that she has to free him of. She is also still dealing with her family and a horrific event that happened a while back that turned one boy into many crows.
The parallel story running through this present-day tale regards Mab’s past. How she came to Kansas, finding romance with her benefactor, and a relationship that was beyond obsessive. This is a good story that, if the plot worked differently, might have been spotlighted instead of the ‘reality’ tale.
For any reader who is interested in the magical ways of the world, they will enjoy this book. The scenes are certainly detailed and offer many a terrifying moment to go along with a mystery of mammoth proportions.
Quill Says: To be well understood, this is a novel that needs to be read in a quiet room so that nothing is missed.
Posted August 28, 2012
After reading Blood Magic last year I was super excited about reading
The Blood Keeper. This is a companion novel, not a sequel. I was hoping
to love this as much as I loved The Blood Keeper, but unfortunately I
didn't. I did still like this, but I didn't really feel the characters
and it took a long time to get into. I liked the creepiness and the
magical aspect of it, but I felt really distracted by a lot of the other
things going on in the book. This book goes from present day in Mab and
Will to a letter that Evelyn had written to Arthur. It was pretty
disorienting at first. I did eventually get used to it, and the story
picked up, but honestly it was about 200 pages into the book before I
really started to get into the story. We get to know Mab a little bit
first. The book starts with her bringing a doll made out of the earth in
the rose garden to life with her blood and a crows sacrifice. Awesome
way to start out the book. She is the Deacon since Arthur is gone. She
is very talented with her blood magic, but still young. As the story
progresses we learn a bit more about her and her background. I did like
Mab, but I never connected with her. She is smart, brave, and wise
beyond her years, but she still does have some typical teenager traits.
I liked her interactions with Will, but they weren't convincing to me.
Will was interesting, but kind of boring. His family is a military
family. His father, and both of his brothers. That is not the path he
wants to choose though. Losing his brother Adam really made him realize
that he wants to make his own choices and do what he wants. He doesn't
want to join the Marines or the Navy or whatever just because he's
expected to. He ends up getting linked to Mab in a crazy sort of way and
they actually help each other besides the whole magic thing. I never
felt like we got to know Will though. He was there, and we knew what he
was going through, but I never felt like we got to know the real him.
So don't get me wrong, the writing is good and there is all sorts of
stuff going on in this book, but I felt like so much of it was dragged
out and the important things weren't really pushed enough. I felt bored
reading a lot of this book and though I was interested to see where
everything was going, it wasn't a page turner for me. I wanted to love
this, I really did. It just didn't grab me the way that Blood Magic did.
There is still some really cool and dark magic that I really enjoyed
reading, but the characters were bland and the story was slow. Perhaps
at a different time I might like it more