Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith is the first book in the Bloodleaf trilogy.
“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?”
This book is quite honestly a breath of fresh air. It starts, as all books should, with a public execution. The first couple of sentences are so brilliant that I was instantly hooked and couldn’t wait to read the rest.
This book has magic and mystery as well as well fleshed out primary and secondary characters.
There is an overall theme of “mothers’ sacrificing themselves for their children” which is carried throughout the novel. This is one of the things that makes Bloodleaf so poignant and such a great story, as it is incredibly emotional and, makes those of us who had mothers (or any parental figure) who sacrificed for us even more aware of what a blessing they are.
I did see a review on this book, that said that the “twists were obvious and not exciting” and I just wanted to state why I disagree and encourage readers and reviewers to read more deeply into the story and not just wait for the twists. While I agree that as a 27 year old with several years of advanced education, I was able to see around some of the twists in this story, but that didn’t change my enjoyment of the book at all. I think it added more suspense, because I could see what was coming and the characters couldn’t; it definitely revealed how much I had come to love the characters as I was worried for their safety. I think a YA reader, the intended audience for this book, might still be surprised by the reveals and even if not will still enjoy the complex characters and the deep emotions this novel evoked.
Recommended For: All YA readers especially those interested in a great fantasy read with extremely strong female characters and just a dash of romance.
Contraindications/Cautions: the theme mentioned above about “mothers’ sacrificing for their children”, while beautiful, might be difficult to read for someone who has recently lost a parent, or a mother who has recently lost a child: if either of those applies to you, this book might trigger negative emotions and you might want to put it back on the shelf for a while.
There is also a sexual assault scene that occurs, it is relatively short and not very descriptive and the character is able to fight off her attackers. If you want to read this book, and skim over this scene I would be happy to give you the page number that it occurs on!
Side Effects: Just all the emotions, honestly; Needing to immediately give my mommy a hug and thank her for all the sacrifices she has made on my behalf; May cause addiction to the rest of the series- proceed with caution.
Final thoughts: I do not have enough words to fully describe how much I loved this book. I think it is a wonderful addition to the YA fantasy genre and I can’t wait for the rest of the series.
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