Friday, August 31, 2012

"They Say, Blood Will Have Blood": A Review on The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

Mab Prowd is a wild and stubborn blood witch, living on a farm in Kansas. When her old mentor dies, she decides to dig around in the garden, determined to discover the truth about the roses there after her mentor asked her to get rid of them. Her spell takes a wrong turn and lets loose an old powerful curse, one that manages to rope in the life of Will Sanger, a local boy who is forced into the world of Mab's blood magic. Determined to remedy her mistake, Mab works to cleanse her land and her life of the effects of the curse. However, the curse is stronger than Mab ever considered and it is determined to destroy Will, Mab and anything else that gets in its way.

Have you ever had your cards read? Have you heard about the Death card and what it truly means when its pulled out in a reading? For those who don't know, the Death card can mean transformation, change, end and beginning.

Tessa Gratton's The Blood Keeper is about all that and more.

I was truly impressed by this sophomore release . The amount of knowledge it had, the sheer amount of research it seemed to contain, just wowed me. I'd read Gratton's previous release, her debut entitled Blood Magic, and was immediately awed by just how great it truly was and how quickly it earned a prime spot on my favorites shelf. I made sure to take note of when to expect the next release and picked up a copy as soon as it was available. Rest assured, The Blood Keeper is just as good as Blood Magic.

In terms of style, the book again follows the use of two dominant narrators, in this case Mab and Will, to develop the story, with an interspersing of old letters every couple of chapters throughout the whole of the book. As seen also in the previous debut, the old writings and the modern-day narration of the book's two leads eventually converge into one storyline. It's the job of the reader to keep going until all the mysteries are revealed and the multiple views merge into one plot. For the sake of detail, an issue to take note of about the style is the occasional dropping of a word in the story's writing. There is a rhythm to the sentences, something that mimics true human thought, so as the writing moves the reader needs to keep up with the pace. Not every exact thought is lined out, with each subject explicitly stated in every sentence. It lends a poetic cadence to the writing but it may rub some picky readers the wrong way, so just a heads-up.

The pacing of The Blood Keeper is more of a slow burn in terms of action and development. This book chooses to unveil its plot carefully, focusing on peeling things back layer by layer. It's definitely a contrast to Blood Magic, which to me seemed to have a faster pace to it with the sense of immediate danger that the two leads and others were dealing with in that story. However, if you have patience, you won't be disappointed once you reach the bigger moments of this novel. Also, for those of you that are curious, The Blood Keeper can be read on its own if you haven't already read Blood Magic. Each book follows a different couple, and while the previous main characters do make an appearance in this novel, everything you need to understand this story is already available to you within these very pages. But I do recommend reading the past release, just to get the whole sense of everything that has been developing in this world of magic.

When it comes to characters, Mab Prowd took some time to grow on me. Believe me when I say she lived up to her name perfectly. Having lived on a farm for most of her life and been home-schooled, she's not really up to snuff on social interactions. She assumes a lot of things about people, taking it for granted that she will be understood because the people she's interacted with her entire life already know everything about her. It makes for some slightly awkward interactions with Will Sanger once Mab is drawn into working out the effects of the curse she let loose with his help. I found her a bit grating but once the tide started to turn and her character growth started to take shape, I thought, yup, she's not half bad, after all.

Will Sanger on the other hand is a somewhat everyday, boy-next-door type. He's meant to inhabit the complete trust and comfort that Mab needs to deal with the curse that could destroy everything on her farm. He's uncertain and still dealing with the grief from a tragedy he suffered a year before the events of this book. But other than a strong sense of protectiveness for Mab, I wasn't too sure about what Will was truly passionate about in his life. At this point he's at a crossroads, unsure about what he wants to do after he graduates high school. He has good reflexes, leading to an inclination for saving people, and he accepts Mab's truth willingly enough when its presented to him. But, when I automatically had a *grrr* reaction to Mab's headstrong and somewhat oblivious attitude, I only had an *eh* reaction to Will. For all I know, that was the point, but still, as the second lead narrator for the book, I wanted just a little more oomph to Will earlier on in the story to make me appreciate him and his connection to Mab.

Moving on now and let me make this perfectly clear: these books have created some truly squicky villains. These villains are the type that find violence delicious and they aren't afraid of a total annihilation of their surroundings and the people around them, as long as their ends are achieved as they wish them to turn out. Of course, being a book about blood magic, there is quite a bit of bleeding as sacrifice for the spells in this book to work and the villains are pros at making any sacrifice necessary. However, I can't go into more detail than that as the point of the book is to understand what evil was bound in the roses and how this curse is tied to Mab and Will. Suffice to say, once the slow burn reaches the boiling point, the climax delivers a chilling revelation about the powers blood witches possess and the secrets they take to the grave.

As I said before, The Blood Keeper is about transformation and change, endings and beginnings. Mab and Will are from two different worlds and they each have to make allowances that allow them to tackle the curse head-on and accept each other for truth and trust as their relationship develops over the course of the novel. There are characters who have passed on whose loss Mab and Will still feel, and then there are characters who are just growing into themselves and their magic. In the end, its their connections to each other that make this novel such an impressive read. Family is important in this world of blood witches, and the power to choose your family and protect them is just as necessary in these characters lives as the blood power they are born with.

Rating: 9 Stars.

I am truly enjoying the works of Tessa Gratton. Here's hoping her next release about magic comes on swift wings. If you're looking for a less flowery, slightly more gritty YA read, Gratton can definitely deliver. For those readers who are looking for more to sample by Gratton, be sure to visit Merry Sisters of Fate, where Gratton posts short stories along with YA bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff.

Sidenote: The quote in my review title is from Macbeth, the Shakespeare play known for the amounts of blood in it. The quote is about how Macbeth believes his killing will become a habit and that it will continue in an endless loop, just as his guilt will never end. I thought it was fitting for Gratton's book, and hey, word is she's a bit of Shakespeare fan herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment