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
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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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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. :)
THE BLOOD KEEPER is breathtaking. Gratton weaves three viewpoint characters into a story of love, magic, and menace. Two of the characters are named and one slowly reveals herself to us as the story progresses.Mab is the newly chosen Deacon after the death of her mentor and father figure Arthur. His last directive to her was to destroy a bed of roses that was tended by his late wife. Mab has grown up under Arthur's tutelage learning magic and tending the land by renewing wards and ending curses. Her magic is based on bloodletting and powered by her blood. In an effort to learn about the rose bed before destroying it she creates a homunculus to tell her what the roses' secrets are. It escapes and Mab has to chase it.Enter Will who is in the summer before his senior year, grieving the death of his brother Aaron, coming to terms with being a reluctant hero after saving a friend from drowning, and trying to plan his own future which conflicts with the future in the military that has been laid out for him. Saving his friend from drowning has left him with nightmares which he attempts to combat by revisiting the scene. There he encounters the homunculus and, while trying to subdue it, gets injured by it. Will and Mab meet and his is fascinated by her unique approach to life. Will soon gets sick with a strange illness and goes to Mab for help. He has taken on the curse and Mab tries magical means to cleanse him.The story is told with each chapter from a different point of view. The third point of view begins with an unnamed narrator. It tells of that person coming to live with Gabriel and Arthur after a magical accident that left her an orphan. She is looking for a home and a place of peace. It is pretty clear that this portion of the story takes place in the past. We gradually learn about the two men and their different approaches to magic. We also watch our narrator - now identified as Evelyn Sonnenschein - fall in love with Arthur and see him love her in return. And we see Gabriel come in and out of their lives and watch his jealousy grow until he tries to do the unthinkable. When the two story lines - past and present - come together the tension and danger amps up for Mab and Will. I was fascinated by the blood magic which was the center of Mab's life. This system of magic was very realistic. I loved that magic wasn't easy and that it had a cost. I also loved that both Mab and Will did a lot of self-exploration in this story and that both grew during the course of it. The writing was emotional and descriptive. Each character had a unique voice and writing style. I wouldn't have needed the chapter titles to know who was speaking. I think my young adult lovers of the paranormal will really enjoy this story. I can't wait to share it with them.
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.
Really great book. Definitely recomend it.
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.
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