Review Blog

May 03 2019

We are blood and thunder by Kesia Lupo

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Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN: 9781408898055.
(Age: 12+ ) Recommended. Themes: YA, fantasy, magic. 'In a sealed off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, is 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 . . . ' (Publisher)
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.
Kesia Lupo crafts a vibrant fantasy world in her debut novel, where both kindness and cruelty stand out. The worldbuilding grounded the story and gave a sense of reality through the characters' trials and tribulations. In her emotive narration, Lupo enables the reader to empathise with the main characters and feel indignant at the inequity and unfairness that Lena faces. Lena's character growth was a pleasure to read as she transforms from an insecure child unsure of her place in the world to a young woman who understands her identity and connections to the people around her. Constance's mysterious and inscrutable character was a stark contrast to Lena's easily perceived emotions, creating a compelling narrative that led to an unexpected twist. The way the storm cloud connected Constance and Lena emphasised the way the past actions of some can impact other people's futures, binding them together through chance or fate. Lupo's abrupt descriptions of character deaths suggests the way people devalue others' lives is callous and beseeches readers to consider the way our actions impact others; thought-provoking themes for the current day and age. The pacing in the opening scene was fast, heightening the tension, and remained at a good tempo for the rest of the novel, slowing for the worldbuilding, then increasing for climactic scenes. Some descriptions in the book are visceral and not appropriate for young readers, but for teenagers, this novel is an engaging, interesting read.
Stephanie Lam

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