I’ve had this book on my radar ever since it came out, but what really pushed me to get it was the Local Author Mingle my local book club was doing—Crystal Smith was going to be there! That, and it happened to be one of the new releases on sale at the B&N 50% sale. So unbelievably happy I bought it—it’s one of the most intriguing fairy tale retellings I’ve read in a while.
Title: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf, #1)
Author: Crystal Smith
Publisher: HMH Teen
Genres: YA Fantasy Retelling
Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?
What a marvelous, dark, twisted fairy tale.
Okay, okay. It’s actually WAY more than that. It’s a complex, dramatic high fantasy disguised as one of my favorite fairy tales…and I just. How do I write a review for this? I’ll start with the characters. I wasn’t sure if I’d like Aurelia in the beginning. She seemed pretty naive, but enthusiastic about her powers, and a little selfish as well. But her character arc is glorious. She’s so fierce and passionate, so willing to do what it takes to save those closest to her. The secondary characters are just as fantastic and well-rounded. Kate is pure sunshine. Zan is fascinating and unique in his interests and shortcomings. Kellan is so dashing and loyal. And the villain. Oh my word. I won’t say more because of plot twists.
And holy crow, there are SO many plot twists! I didn’t see any of them coming (except one, but I was hoping hoping hoping I’d guessed it right). There were a couple of times that I had to put the book down because my mind was reeling at the new information. In terms of plot, this book is intense. There’s a ton of political intrigue, action, and lots and lots of blood magic going on.
Speaking of the magic system, I think it’s fascinating how the author set it up. It’s nothing totally new, but the way it’s organized is new, and I was fascinated by it. Plus the way it’s weaved into the world building with the gods, the history of the world…it was so complex, and I loved it.
Every part of this book just made me want to keep reading more. It did not go in a direction I was expecting, which meant I was constantly surprised. It was such a fabulous ride, and I cannot wait to pick up the second book. If you’re a fan of dark fairy tales, intricate world building, and three-dimensional characters, this book is definitely for you.