We are Blood & Thunder by Kesia Lupo Book Review
I am SO glad to finally review this book, I’ve definitely had plenty of time to think about it and look over all the tabs I put in while reading it. I’m not sure whether this got a lot of hype or not because I wasn’t active on social media around the time it was published a couple of months ago but thank you so much to Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review because I really enjoyed it way more than I expected it to.
In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, 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 … 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 is a debut author and from this book alone, I am so excited to read more of her work. I was fully immersed in this book and read through it quite fast once I got into it.
Lupo’s world building was in my opinion, one of the best parts of this novel. Fantasy standalone books can easily fall into the trap of info dumping because it’s hard to introduce and immerse a whole new fictional world to someone, with detail, in a single book. Lupo managed to do this so elegantly as we’re introduced to two characters with generally alternating point of view chapters.
So this crazy fog began in this place called Duke’s Forest forcing the whole city to be sealed off and this storm also made people sick, and there’s a cool prophecy involved too. The novel was explaining so much so easily; not only the history/lore of what happened in this place but how this city evolved in its cultural differences in this world.
The experiences of one protagonist, Lena, whose spent her whole life in this sealed off city compared to Constance who did live there but has experienced the outside world, especially one where magic is embraced and enforced with laws and temples. Speaking of temples, religion was another world-building aspect of this book that simply felt effortless. I was fully into it and reading and understanding the fictional world with ease, her writing’s cohesion reminded me so much of Marie Lu’s writing style which I absolutely adore.
Both Duke’s Forest and the City of Kings (another prominent location in the novel) has their own unique and accurate feel and mood. I could imagine a super cool soundtrack and game of thrones style costumes – this would just be a cool tv show, in general, to be honest.
The plot was just so imaginative and mysterious. The magic system was introduced seamlessly into the plot and I would’ve loved to see more about it. One of the main plot points at the beginning of this book is for Lena to learn how to control and develop her magic, and I kind of wish we could’ve seen more of that. Same with how I wish I could’ve learnt a bit more about Constance. Obviously one of the weaknesses of a standalone is I just wanted MORE information, more detail to really get a good feel for all the characters. While the pace of the plot was pretty good, it did sometimes feel a bit rushed and I wouldn’t have minded if things had slowed down a bit to get into the nitty gritty of the book’s concepts. Religion, politics and magic, they make for a great read together but I personally just felt like I wanted more from everything.
Most of the time I couldn’t even think of what could possibly happen, and the ending was definitely a bit unexpected for me. I didn’t fully see the plot twists coming but I had a general idea of where it could lead, and it was overall written to be well received – I definitely had a few shocks while reading this book.
I thought both protagonists were well written. Lena and Constance both have very different personalities and past experiences with a unique voice. Even though there was a decent amount of character development, there wasn’t enough for me to truly be invested in Lena nor Constance so I wasn’t ever truly on one of their sides, but more just spectating and wanting to know what happens next. The romance in Lena’s storyline felt a little unnecessary to me as well but it can be because I’m biased to books not always having a love interest, however, Constance definitely brought more emotions in the romance in her storyline. Maybe because she’s the older character? I’m not too sure but I felt like Lena’s was pushed a bit more while Constance’s relationships with other characters felt more natural.
This book was overall super imaginative, original and a captivating page-turner. The world-building and plot were the highlights and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a cool, mysterious YA fantasy. There is apparently another book coming out next year set in the same world but with different protagonists and I’m genuinely really excited to read it and just find out more about it.
Have you read this novel? What did you think?
Until next time,