Blood Magic: review

June 15, 2011 2 star books, maggie stiefvater, tessa gratton, undead, Wendy 6

Blood Magic
by Tessa Gratton

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped trying to enjoy Blood Magic. As the book began, I was uneasy about the wordiness of the prose, but this is the point at which I gave up:

My heart beat faster, and I had to blink away the halo surrounding him. He was Mephistopheles, smiling and tempting me, his Dr. Faustus, to dance.

If this crazy talk had happened even after a lifetime of knowing each other or under the influence of recreational drugs or if they were both 600 years old, that sentence still would have made me giggle. But this was, I believe, Silla’s third encounter with her new neighbor/instant boy crush Nick. She met him just a couple of days earlier when he witnessed her cutting her thumb in a cemetery and performing magic as if she’d been doing it all her life, although in fact it was the very first time she’d attempted it. This “magic” and its origins and its powers are rather odd, and I’m still not entirely sure I am convinced by the paranormal applications.

There are lots of crows flying around for dramatic effect. There are dual narratives that alternate far too quickly between Silla’s and Nick’s points of view. (In the space of the 8 pages in Chapter 6, for example, it switches three times!) Some of the phrasing such as “So many questions I had for him” and “I slept like ass, exhausted and sweating” is awkward. And there are incidents which seem designed primarily for shock value, including a violent death towards the end and an instance of Silla (look away, animal lovers) decapitating a rabbit with a butcher knife in order to drain it of its blood. Into a Tupperware container.

Overall, however, I just could not get past the overly-written, overly-purple, overly-dramatic nature of the prose. The author is a friend of Maggie Stiefvater’s, and the attempt to come close to her style is fairly obvious in many of the aspects of the writing and the story. But whereas books such as Shiver offer gorgeous prose and pulse with deep emotion, Blood Magic rarely stirs genuine excitement or passion no matter how hard it tries. And it tries very, very hard.

It might have been interesting to see this story go through several more rounds of revisions to edit out some of the more excessive literary swooning, as well as more development in the plot and the characters. But as it is, I was only able to read the first 100 pages or so and skimmed the rest, as I just wasn’t able to sit through more of the wordiness and the melodrama. Unfortunately, the striking cover and alluring concept were by far the most attractive parts of this novel for me.

Rated 2 out of 5 stars.

30-Second Synopsis: An overly wordy, overly dramatic story about a girl with bloody magic at her fingertips. Not recommended for those with a fondness for rabbits.

6 Responses to “Blood Magic: review”

  1. Joyce C

    Sadly, I have to agree. I couldn’t read past two chapters. I read Tessa’s short stories on the Merry Sisters of Fate website, and Maggie’s still my favourite. Tessa’s prose is too wordy, like you said, and there were a lot of telling and not enough showing. I felt treated like a juvenile reader.

  2. kaye (paper reader)

    I was on the fence on this one but you’ve swayed me; the sped-up relationships don’t sit too well with me neither do skills developed overnight. A shame, it sounded like an interesting book.

  3. Wendy Darling

    I love beautiful writing, but “overly wordy prose” is never fun. I’ll be curious to see what you think of this one!