Review: Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
Aurelia is a princess who is forced to flee into exile because of her magic, which leads her to pretend to be a commoner in the kingdom where her betrothed is the prince. The magic that protects the wall which divides the kingdoms is being threatened, with the removal of each ward requiring deaths. The final layer of protection will fall when three royals of that country’s bloodline are killed.
What I loved:
- Magic is hated and feared in Aurelia’s home country, yet she continued to practice it. I think I’d add into the love category everything to do with the magic system, especially regarding the mysterious plant bloodleaf itself!
- The connection between Aurelia and Zan. Seeing Aurelia find happiness despite everything going on around her showed her determination to live the best life possible.
- The emotional journeys of some of the side characters, such as Zan’s friend’s wife.
- Despite being the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy, the story felt complete. There was no sense that Aurelia’s story had been chopped into three just for the sake of it.
I was a little more uncertain about other aspects of the story, such as the reveal relating to Toris, the novel’s villain. I think for me Bloodleaf was a novel much less about the plot itself and more about the relationships between the characters. If you liked the characters, as I did, then the story was very satisfying. I also found what happened to Aurelia’s best friend a little unbelievable, but understand why it had to happen.
Overall this was a really fun read. The magic system and the ghostly element brought by the spirits Aurelia is haunted by added some depth to the story. I’m excitedly awaiting the next book in this series and urge anyone who loved Queen of the Tearling or Red Queen to pick this novel up!
Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, HMH Books for Young Readers and Crystal Smith for the opportunity to read Bloodleaf in exchange for my honest review.