Amanda Reviews: Tessa Gratton—"Blood Magic"
Pretty cool, huh? That’s the deliciously dark first line we hear from Silla, one of the three main character viewpoints in Blood Magic. The darkness grips you from that first line – and doesn’t let go for a second.
Silla is sitting alone by the graves of her beloved parents, dead from an apparent murder-suicide the summer before. And she’s reading a book – a book that has mysteriously turned up, addressed to her and written in her father’s handwriting. But for Silla, the weirdest part is that it’s a book of magic. Yep, you guessed it – Blood Magic.
The second viewpoint is that of Nick, or Nicholas. Nick has just moved to the sleepy town of Yaleylah, Missouri, where he spent his early childhood with a crazy mother. A city boy, he’s angry with the world, especially his Dad’s new wife – the dreaded Lilith – a famous author. Nick has inherited his grandfather’s property and it just happens to overlook the cemetery.
It doesn’t take long for the troubled twosome to hook up and in a nice change, there’s no angsty does he? / doesn’t she? drama to get in the way of a good story. Silla and Nick are made for each other, in more ways than one. It’s a believable love affair that’s not too naff or vomit-inducing– well, unless blood makes you queasy that is. And there’s plenty of that.
Together Silla and Nick find themselves thrust into the world of Blood Magic when a hundred-year-old witch comes hunting for the bones of Silla’s parents and the Spell Book. This gal is one of the best and totally psycho antagonists I’ve read in ages. As a reader, we get a chance to get in her head as her story is told in snippets peppered between Silla and Nick’s. To fight her and save themselves, they have to accept who they really are – for Nick, this means facing the reality of what sent his mother off the rails, and for Silla, it means accepting she may never have really known her father. I found it interesting how they both coped with being outcasts at school and in their small town community; Silla finds reprieve in her mask collection, and often imagines herself wearing one of them to hide how she really feels in difficult situations – something many of us do in one way or another.
Just one of the things that kept me turning pages (and up very late at night) was the whodunit. Or, more specifically… Who Is It? Tessa Gratton has written an amazing first novel filled with clues and red-herrings that kept me guessing, along with Silla and Nick who the bad guy or girl really was. Just when I thought I had it figured out, that nasty ol’ witch would go and possess someone else, throwing my theory out the window. The Blood Magic itself is beautiful and gross all bound up together. Yep, there’s A LOT of blood. Heaps of it, actually. And setting most of the story in a cemetery might sound clichéd, but this story is anything but. Although there are a number of viewpoints, we’re never lost and it’s easy to keep track, even when the story jumps constantly within a chapter. In fact, it works really well. There were a lot of loose ends that were left untied by the end, but since this is marked as the first book in a trilogy, it’s an easy thing to forgive. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for number two, which, according to internet rumour will be called ‘The Blood Keeper.’
So if you’re not easily grossed out, but love a good scare, Blood Magic is for you. But beware – you’ll never look at of a murder of crows in quite the same way again…
Published by Doubleday for release 1st June, 2011 (in Australia)
ISBN: 978 0 857 53020 2
Paperback, 408 pages.