For Nick Pardee and Silla Kennicot, the cemetery is the center of everything.
Nick is a city boy angry at being forced to move back to the nowhere town of Yaleylah, Missouri where he grew up. He can’t help remembering his mom and the blood magic she practiced – memories he’s tried for five years to escape. Silla, though, doesn’t want to forget; her parents’ apparent murder-suicide left her numb and needing answers. When a book of magic spells in her dad’s handwriting appears on her doorstep, she sees her chance to unravel the mystery of their deaths.
Together they plunge into the world of dark magic, but when a hundred-year-old blood witch comes hunting for the bones of Silla’s parents and the spell book, Nick and Silla will have to let go of everything they believe about who they are, the nature of life and death, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood.
This is yet another of my hotly-anticipated books for 2011. I've followed Tessa's Livejournal for a while and couldn't wait to get a copy. I hoped it would be dark and magical so dived in as soon as it arrived. I'm a bit worried I won't be able to do it justice in this review but I'm going to have a go. Firstly, there's Silla who before the suspected murder/suicide of her parents was a happy-go-lucky girl. Before, she was pretty, open and popular but now it's after and she has lost weight, cut her hair, has few friends and is barely recognisable as her former self. The result of this is that she's an outsider and the source of gossip in a pretty small town.
Nick's come from Chicago and isn't over the moon to find himself in Missouri in the middle of senior year. After taking a walk to get away from his awful (totally hateful!) stepmother he comes across Silla in a graveyard, cutting her thumb and rejuvenating a dried up leaf. This moment of blood magic causes Nick to remember his mother who always had plasters on her fingers and taught him the basics of her craft. The next day at school Nick gets a chance to introduce himself properly and I have to say, wow, he is seriously charming. He has a sort of casual way about him that enables him to make friends but be confident enough to stand apart from them and disagree if needs be. Silla and Nick together are a great, sexy couple. So often in young adult books I feel that the relationships are unnaturally chaste. I mean, I'm not suggesting that everyone should be getting in deep and heavy every five seconds but I appreciate it when two teens actually kiss and mean it and there's no heavy moralistic vibe behind the relationship.
Silla isn't totally alone though. She has a solid support in the form of Gram Judy, who stepped in after her parents died, and Reese - her brother. Whilst Silla won't believe that her dad murdered her mum Reese does and is struggling with his anger. Despite this his love for Silla is clear. Together, with the help of Nick, they try to unravel the secrets in their dad's magic book as they explore how far blood magic can take them. Interspersed through the book are excepts from the diary of Josephine Darly. Although her story starts in 1903 it becomes apparent that what she has to say has relevance to the present day. Josephine is a fantastic character; selfish, passionate, jealous and - to be frank- an out-and-out bitch. Tessa Gratton has done some brilliant videos of Josephine's chapters and I implore you to check them out.
Needless to say Silla, Nick and Reese get deeply involved before they realise how much danger they are in. I was totally surprised by the outcome and didn't see it coming at all. I sense I'm rambling even more than usual so I'll wrap this up by saying that Blood Magic is one of my favourite books of the year so far. It's bloody and at times bleak yet full of hope and self-discovery and I loved it.
We have one advanced proof copy of Blood Magic to give away. This competition is open to UK people only and a winner will be chosen using random. org from the comments. Please leave your email in the comments and we'll contact you on or after the closing date (Monday 4th July) if you've won to get your address so we can send out your prize. One comment per entry only please!