Hello Humans! You know those books that surprise you – books that you think will be at best just ‘ok’ but that end up totally blowing your socks off? Well – you guessed it – today’s book has left me with no socks and cold feet! We are Blood and Thunder is an exceptional YA novel that turns so many of the tropes of this genre on their heads. I can’t wait for more people to read this 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.
Where to start with this book? There are so many things I want to talk about. I’ll start with the setting. I was convinced, from the description of the storm cloud, that this book would read as kind of a post-apocalyptic fantasy story (akin to N K Jemisin) but was surprised to find that at least half of this book read more like the detailed court politics and intrigue of a Melinda Salisbury novel. I love both types of story but it’s always nice to be surprised. I loved the way the storm cloud was always a looming threat but that life was still going on in a kind of new normal. It was interesting to read a world where everything was going wrong but people were still living their lives. It was cool to have that kind of resilience of society as opposed to the normal societal breakdown.
That’s the best word I can use for this book, it surprised me. I was surprised by how much I liked both characters. I found that you got the best of both worlds. You get the ‘young girl learning that she is more powerful than she ever believed and harnessing her magic’ storyline and you also get the ‘girl who knows her power claims her rightful place in her own society and takes no nonsense from anyone’. Often my problem with books that have dual POV where the characters are clearly connected in some plot-relevant way is that these characters are separated before we have a chance to get to know them together. In this instance Lupo manages to have these characters barely ever meet one another, not really knowing of each other’s existence, but still have both stories fit together – it absolutely feels like one cohesive book as opposed to two books that only come together at the end.
One of the strongest selling points of this book that I can’t go into much detail about in this review because it would be spoilerific is the ending. Just trust me – it’s amazing and phenomenally well done and basically sold the whole book to me and means I will absolutely be recommending it to anyone who loves YA fantasy but is feeling a little stagnant. You’ll just have to trust me – it’s great.
There is some romance in this book. This was the only aspect that felt kind of ‘classic YA’ to me, but it manages to fall into place within the wider plot to the point where you don’t really have to notice it if you don’t want to – but it’s a nice addition if you do! Those who enjoy the kind of romance that springs forth from ‘let me train you how to do the thing’ will hopefully be pleased with this one…
Can you tell I loved this book? For me a five-star rating is 99.9% based on gut feeling and this hit that for me. I feel as though I’ve been stuck in a string of four-star ratings lately and this book was so refreshing, simultaneously bringing together a lot of my favourite things about this genre and also flipping them on their head so they read totally new. I will certainly be recommending it to all my fellow YA fantasy fans.
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
We are Blood and Thunder is available now!
What say you? What are your thoughts on this book? Let me know in the comments below!