Book: We Are Blood and Thunder
Author: Kesia Lupo
Published By: Bloomsbury UK
Expected Publication: 4th April (I’m sorry!)
Bechdel Test: PASS-It took until almost the very end of the book to find, but Lena and Constance have a brief conversation discussing the spell that counts.
I received this book from Bloomsbury UK, through Netgalley UK, in exchange for an honest review.
As always, thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book early.
I saw a lot of people crowing about this book when ARCs went out, on Twitter, and it sounded intriguing, so I decided to request it from Netgalley and thankfully got accepted. However, the book didn’t actually live up to expectations for me, I was expecting something really great and instead I found it kind of flat and getting through it was a bit of a slog, honestly if I hadn’t been reviewing it for Netgalley, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear – those with magic.
On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke’s Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won’t hide who she is any longer.
A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine … Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.
I was so excited about this book, it sounded so different and intriguing! And it got off to a really good start, the opening was strong, the first chapter was really action packed, everything was setting up for something really exciting. And then the rest of the book happened.
It was SO SLOW. I’ve read 600+ paged books that were better paced than this, it made it’s 430 page length seem like it was twice as long. It did start to pick up again at the end but by that point, you had already had to slog through 300 0dd pages of nothing, and I’m not sure many readers will have the attention span to get through. It didn’t help that most of the chapters were 20 or 30 pages long, so despite there not being a massive number of them (29 + a prologue and epilogue, pretty standard), each one took forever to get through.
I didn’t feel a connection with any of the characters, I felt like they were flat and could have been way more developed. I was interested in Lena to start off with, but she never seemed to develop at all from the beginning to the end of the book. Constance was a little more interesting and fleshed out but I still didn’t feel like I could connect to her at all, her voice seemed very detached. Emris was just your typical generic mentor and Winton, Constance’s brother seemed to have very little purpose and the Justice was a very cardboard cutout villain with weak motivations.
Constance and Lena have very separate story arcs and they don’t really combine till right at the end of the book, which meant that most of the book felt disjointed and the blurb was kind of misleading in that respect because it made it seem like their story arcs were more connected than they actually were.
The world building I found lacking and kind of confusing, the magic system is never fully explained, I didn’t really understand why the world hated magic so much and a lot of the world just didn’t really make much sense to me. I also felt pretty confused by the explanations we did get of the magic, it was a lot of waffle about Chaos and Order and Bindings and Gods without any real explanation.
The writing was fine, nothing to particularly crow about, but to be honest I was so bored, I don’t think that amazing writing would have saved it!
There was some representation in this, as far as I could gather, Lena was a POC, and Winton, Constance’s half-brother was gay, I’m not sure if there was anymore than that though, at least not on page.
The romance in the book was half baked and not at all developed, Lena and Emris seem to have a mentor/student relationship going and then all of a sudden they like each other and are kissing? I mean I know that can happen, but it just seemed to come out of left field. Constance is hinted to have had romantic relationships with a man from home Xander, and Emris, but nothing really comes of either. I also found it kind of weird that Emris and Lena got together, since it seemed as if Emris was the same age as Constance, and she was in her early 20s whereas Lena is 16 and whilst it’s not the weirdest age gap in YA ever, I’m not a massive fan of relationships between adults and under 18s (it’s different if it’s 16 & 18 or 17 & 18 but 16 & 23? That’s a bit weird).
There were some great twists towards the end of the book and I liked where the author went with the mystery about the storm, but I found myself rather unsatisfied by the ending, because it didn’t really feel earned, because of how slow everything had been up to that point, the ending felt somewhat rushed.
Overall this book just really wasn’t for me, slow pacing, a confusing plot, lacklustre characters and a rushed end made it very difficult to enjoy and I couldn’t really find much positive to say about it, which is a shame for me, because I always try to find at least one positive thing to end my review on.
My Rating: 2/5
My next review will be of my May #RockMyTBR book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik.