Initially not intended for this month. Book club gals asked me to join for the YA book club too so I read it. Originally Inventing Elliot was supposed to be your third review for the week. You’ll get it next week.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao
Synopsis From The Book
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
Fantasy | YA – M |Lots of Death | Death of Innocence, Loss, Hope
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I was going to read this in February, but I decided to put it up on my list after talking to book club. I know more about the controversy surrounding this book than the actual book. I can’t wait to read it to see how she, the author, changed the novel based on the feedback she got.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
WOW. I felt pretty drained after reading it. Not that it was bad, but probs not my favorite book.
Ana faked her own death eleven months ago, and since then she has been searching for any and all clues on the man who murdered her father. She finds a man named Ramson Quicktongue and they escape his confinement. Ana almost dies in the escape and Ramson takes her to the only place she told him to go. There he finds a girl named May, and Ana gets better.
Ana has an Affinite, a type of magic in their world, that allows her control over something specific. Her Affinity is for blood. Ana and Ramson make a deal to help each other — her a murderer, him those who betrayed him — and set off to find more clues. At a town the two separate. Ramson goes to talk to his connections, and is poisoned, ultimately being captured by bounty hunters. Ana and May go to the market and are found by White Cloaks (imperial patrols) who capture May. Ana causes a scene and then goes to save Ransom.
They go after May, which also happens to be where Ramson can get his revenge. It is here that they go to an event called the Playpen, a high class social event where Affinities are sold to the highest bidder. On the fourth day, May appears and a rebellion is sparked by Ana’s old friend Yuri. The group escapes with many difficulties and May dies.
When given the chance for revenge Ana takes it, at the cost of knocking Ramson out. The two get into the final party where Ramson is captured again, and almost killed. Ana learns that it was her Aunt figure, who killed her mother, father, and was trying to kill her brother. She is saved by a Affinite and the two go to the capital together. Ana is able to get there in time, with Ramson who assists having arrived later, and her brother abdicates the throne to her. As the declared heir the world explodes in fury and fighting, with her brother being stabbed and she is once more blamed for the death. Ana is knocked into paralysis through the man that had killed her father, and said to have “died.” She and Ramson flee, to go find more allies so she can take back her throne.
What I Liked:
Ana; I did like Ana. Did she make the best decisions? No. Was she afraid of her powers? Maybe at times but she used them and let herself be deadly. I can’t wait until she gets more control over them, because she won’t be afraid of trying it. My only advice is that she stays away from water. She can’t swim, and she’s almost drowned four times now.
Ramson; As a male lead his backstory is complex and full. He has a tricky childhood and many moral dilemmas. Also, I find it hilarious that the character got captured twice. As a character I liked him more than Ana in some ways.
May; She was a symbol for innocence and hope. With her death, the last bit of innocence died for Ana, and I can respect that. She also fought for the revolution despite her small size. Props to her.
Affinities pt 1; I really liked the idea of a person having the ability to control one thing. I also was interested in how those people with the powers were used as slaves for their powers. The magic system clearly had rules on the weaknesses as well as the ways it could be used. It was also thoroughly developed into the country, all these things I liked. However see below for what I did not.
Culture, Politics, and History; I liked this part because we see how much Affinities are important to the world, as are their gods and their history. We get a bit of backstory on the history and the way that the different countries deal with Affinities. Seeing the thick culture and language helped to solidify the world. Then the politics surrounding all those details was thick, lavish, and so very corrupt.
Use of language; I really liked the use of language and the crafting of the culture around it all. I may not have understood the words at first but the way they were built into speech and the rest of how the world worked, I appreciated. It made the world feel as if it were cut out.
Deaths; We got loaded up on the deaths, as well as two named characters. I knew both were going to die, although I expected her brother to die in the next book? I liked how a character with a deadly power did not shy away from using those deadly powers. The death toll rose but that’s because she used them, and I’m okay with that.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Affinities pt 2; I did not like the flesh affinity of mind control. Emotions, flesh, blood? I can forgive those. However mind control seemed more like a device than a power. It was used to explain “oh this character is evil.” or “this character is not responding” rather than having a legitimate purpose. Our main villainess could have had maxed charisma and would have been able to have the same effect on the story, because the mind control can only control one person at a time. What is the point of that? Charisma and real reasons work better.
Book Club Thoughts:
At book club, we mostly talked on two specific subjects. The use of Affinities and mind control and how we didn’t need it. Give her max charisma, give them real reasons to be on her side, not just a power that sort of delegitimizes their threat and her’s. One girl also said that it seemed that the mind control was a device to explain the motivations instead of developing real motivations.
We also talked on, when Ana’s brother is stabbed. How did no one see it? She was across the room. Another man had the knife. How would ANYONE believe she did it? Also on that note, all the people watching the coronation are they just sitting there? The end battle was a mess in many ways we agreed.
Also, another girl mentioned about how an unrelated aunt could be abdicated to. That should never happen.
May’s death was predictable.
“Your Affinity does not define you. What defines you is how you choose to wield it.” – pg 53
“Don’t go where I cant follow.” – pg 63
“Dust and stars. We are but dust and stars.” – pg 241
“You’ll find me in the stars.”- pg 241