Sunday, 9 September 2012

Review: The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

The Blood Keeper (The Blood Journals, #2)

  The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton
  Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  Publication Date: August 28th 2012
  My rating: 4 Stars

 Paranormal romance fans who are looking to up the ante will be drawn to this tale of horror, fantasy, and romance. For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It's all she's ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm in Kansas with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose—she's connected to the land and protective of the magic. And she is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. Mab will do anything to keep the ancient practice alive and guard its secrets. But one morning while she is working out a particularly tricky spell she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise some mundane personal demons. He experiences Mab's magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But secrets that were kept from Mab by the earlier generations of blood magicians have come home to roost. And she and Will are drawn back together, time again by this dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.

The Blood Keeper is a dark magical story that takes time and patience to get into, but is well worth the effort.  It’s a companion novel to Blood Magic with previous characters showing up, but focused on a whole new cast. 

In this story, there are two POVs in the present, Mab and Will, and one from the past, Evie.

Mab is the new Deacon, a leader and guide of the blood witches, after Arthur the previous Deacon passed away.  Arthur, Grandma Lyn, Donna and a hodge-podge group living at The Pink House are more of a family to Mab than her own mother, Josephine.  Her mother dropped her off there when she was two years-old, only visiting and staying occasionally.  We know from Blood Magic, Josephine was busy tracking down and stalking her love, or more accurately, her obsession, Philip.  This ended tragically for Josephine, Philip, and his wife.  Thankfully, Mab is nothing like her mother, and it really was a blessing in disguise that Arthur and Granny Lyn raised her.  Arthur’s final request before he died was for Mab to “destroy those roses,” yet everything Mab tries, fails.  Finally, to get to the bottom of this mystery, Mab fashions a “doll” (not really what you’d call a doll, more of a mud-monster) with the spirit of the roses and the curse that dwells in them.  Little does she know what evil she’s about to unleash.

There had been a secret planted under my bedroom window all my life.  I knew I should have spent my creating a spell to burn the curse away, to turn the roses into ash and spread the pieces on the wind and on the river.  It’s what Arthur told me to do.  But that isn’t what I chose.

Will knows what he doesn’t want.  He doesn’t want to follow in his father’s and brother’s footsteps into a military career.  His family is still reeling from his brother, Aaron’s death.  An event that shook Will up and made him realize he didn’t want to follow.  Will and Mab’s life collide when her “doll” gets loose and plows into Will, touching him with the evil curse and marking him with it, unbeknownst to him or Mab.   Will is intrigued with the strange and beautiful Mab, not knowing exactly how important she’s about to become in his life. 

We’re introduced to Evie when she joins a much younger Arthur and his friend Gabriel at the Pink House.  She is a blood witch but only uses magic as a tool when needed.  It doesn’t dominate her life.  Her POV is a letter to Arthur recounting the events of the past.  You get a glimpse of Josephine too, who even back then was an enigmatic figure with little or no morals.  You witness Evie falling in love, but at the same time you feel something bad is coming.  You realize her letter is not just recounting a love story, but a tragedy as well.

As I said in the beginning, I had a hard time getting into this story.  It wasn’t until I was about 30% in that I finally started clicking with it.  While the prose was beautiful, I felt like it could’ve been pared down.  The explanations and detailing of many rituals throughout the book had my eyes glazing over in a few parts.   I’m not a huge fan of detailed writing, so these points of complaint could just be me.  I did finally engage in the story, and from then on I was anxious to find out what was going to happen next.  The story truly became riveting, and I was rushing to piece together the mystery of the past to the events in the present.  I’m so glad I pushed through because The Blood Keeper was worth it!  It was a strange, romantic, and enthralling tale.  

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children’s Books for allowing me to read this.



  1. I'm not usually a fan of books that are slow, the exception is if the wait was worth it so it's great that it in this case it was! I haven't heard much about this book so thanks for putting it on my radar!

  2. Great review Rachel. I really liked Will, he was the only shining light in this for me. And he becomes evil? I'm intrigued now but don't know if I can make myself go back to it. Glad it worked out for you :)

    1. Will was the best and he doesn't go evil but has bad effects from the curse. Hope you end up liking it if you pick it back up but I can see how this wouldn't be for everyone. :)

  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it Rachel, despite the slow start. Blood Magic was a decent read for me, but I'm hoping I will enjoy this more with the different characters. Great review as always! :)

  4. I haven't read Blood Magic, I think I actually only heard of it now. Haha! Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this book. The doll and magic thingy sounds very intriguing. Brilliant review, Rachel.

  5. It's a companion novel, so does that mean we could read it as a stand alone, or would it be better to read Blood Magic first? I tend to have trouble with really detailed writing too Rachel, I start skimming to get past it and can't really settle into the story. Glad once you get past that initial lull things pick up a bit and you were able to connect a bit more!

  6. I have to re-voice Jenny's question: would it be better to read Blood Magic first? I love the cover of this one and it sounds like something I'd really like, so despite the slow start, I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Rachel! You've definitely gotten me intrigued! Fantastic review, dear! :)

  7. I only know Gratton's work that is part of the Stiefvater-Yovanoff-Gratton magic triangle. In fact, I started The Curiosities today! I love her style, but althouhg I'm a huge fan of both Maggie and Brenna, I never gave this series a chance. I guess all the talk of animal cruelty scared me away.
    I will read Blood Magic asap. Lovely review, Rachel!

  8. Great review! I've actually never heard of this book but it does sound a bit interesting. I hate when it takes me a while to get into a book though so if I read this I'll keep that in mind.

  9. I've never read any of Tessa's work. I do have both her books, though. If we're to judge this writer by the company she keeps, then my guess will be that I'd love her books. By the sounds of it, Blood Keeper may be one that an investment of time would be a wise one indeed.

    Great review, Rachel. :)

  10. A secret plannted under my window sure grabbed my attention. I love lenghty descriptive writing so I would probably really love that aspect of this. I am glad that the slow start pays off in the end!

  11. I haven't actually read the first book in the series although I've heard of it and really wanted to read it! The cover looks quite creepy too ;) I love romantic and enthralling stories so I must read this series!

    Awesome review, Rachel! ♥ So glad you enjoyed it!


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