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The Blood Keeper (The Blood Journals #2) by…
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The Blood Keeper (The Blood Journals #2)

by Tessa Gratton

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Anyone with a tendency toward hemophobia should not read Tessa Gratton’s The Blood Keeper. You will not make it through. Almost from the first page, the novel’s heroine, Mab Prowd is cutting open fingers and wrists, bleeding into bowls, and mixing it up with other ingredients to connect to the earth and work her blood magic. I often felt like I was trying to read the book between my fingers, but it’s an absorbing read, and slight squeamishness aside, I wanted to keep going.

Mab Prowd is seventeen when she inherits the title of The Deacon (a magical keeper of the land, one who contains curses, and maintains a safe place for all the other blood witches scattered across the United States) from her Uncle Arthur who after hundreds of years as the Deacon has decided to move on. As a last request he asks her to destroy rose bushes planted in the garden. Unfortunately he neglects to explain the meaning behind this odd assignment, and Mab takes it upon herself to explore their power and essence before doing as he asks. She channels the energy of the roses into a creature she fashions out of mud and animal hearts. This turns out to be a big mistake – especially when her creation crosses paths with Will Sanger, a boy from the local high school who is struggling to define his own life choices at the time.

I liked The Blood Keeper a lot. Gratton can run long with her descriptiveness, making for some issues with pacing, but that was outweighed in the balance by strong, well-developed characters, solid mythology and details of the dark rituals comprising blood magic, and good story-telling. Point of view alternates between Mab, Will and a former resident of the blood land which slowly proves to have bearing on unfolding events.

The Blood Keeper is essentially the story of a lonely girl growing up on an isolated Kansas farm, weighted by the responsibility of inheritance and separated from people her own age. While she meets Will because of the danger she has exposed him to, they both need each other. Mab’s strength of character is sometimes to her detriment when she leaps before considering all of the possibilities, and she could benefit fun and the company of other teens. Will finds just as much comfort in her, as he tries to break away from the demands and traditions of his family in light of the unsettling death of his brother. Will was probably my favorite character in the book – his simple openness and trust, desire to do the right thing and his love for his dogs, made him very appealing and the romance very sweet. History, horror, romance and magic coincide for a compelling escapist read. Recommended. ( )
  daniellnic | Sep 25, 2013 |
I read Blood Magic, Gratton's first book, when it came out and it was okay. I wasn't amazed by it, but I didn't dislike it either. But I'd been hearing good things about Blood Keeper in the blogosphere and decided to take a chance. I'm so glad I did. Gratton completely blows the first book out of the water. Blood Keeper is a beautifully written story from first to last, with compelling characters. I loved Mab, who is proud and responsible and makes mistakes. To me, she read as entirely human and therefore sympathetic--the mistakes she made weren't out of malice and only made me want to hug her (more discussion here). Also, Will! Will is awesome! I loved and totally bought the romance. ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes

Cover Impressions: On it's own, this cover might have been ok. The imagery is nice, the colors work well together and the runes invite further examination. But when compared with the cover for its predecessor, it is less than impressive. I do not like it when the covers of a series do not fit with each other and this certainly does not fit with the gloriously gothic and unique cover for Blood Magic.

The Gist: Mab Prowd has been raised to be the Deacon of her family's blood land. Magic to her is as natural as breathing and she has dedicated her life to the practice. When she stumbles across Will Sanger and inadvertently allows him a glimpse into this world, Will finds both beauty and terror and Mab finds herself embroiled in the fight of her life.

Review: During the first half of The Blood Keeper I was disinterested but I couldn't quite pin down why. The characters were ok, the writing was ok, the premise was ok. As I continued, the fact that I neither loved nor hated ANYTHING got to be more and more annoying. When I read Blood Magic, I was a little underwhelmed, but I gave points for originality and willingness to be a little more dark and delve into the nitty gritty of sacrifice in exchange for power. However, with the second book in the series, these things are simply not enough. This time, I expected strong characters, an exciting plot and some serious magic. I did not get these things.

The Blood Keeper does not follow the same characters as Blood Magic. Instead, we meet Mab - a child raised to be keeper of the land and master of magic and Will - a regular kid from a nearby town. That's right, that is all I have to say about Will. There is really nothing special about him that I could see and the time spent developing his family drama bored me to tears. His family is suffering from the loss of their middle son to a car crash and the return of their oldest from Afghanistan. This is the perfect backdrop for some moving scenes and serious character development. However, that is not what we get. Instead we have to suffer through Will's whining about how everyone wants him to join the Marines and his incredibly tame arguments with his parents. Mab is only slightly more interesting, though she spends an inordinate amount of time discussing her love for the land and mooning over Will. I did enjoy her quirkiness and lack of concern with how she is viewed by the more mainstream families (and teens) in town.

While this is not exactly a sequel to Blood Magic, I would have appreciated some re-cap so that I could remember who the other characters were (they appeared as minor characters, popping in and out of the story). As it was, I actually went back and re-read the last few chapters of Blood Magic and found that that helped me re-orient myself. The narration switches between Mab, Will and Evelyn. Evelyn's story is told through letters to Arthur, the former Deacon, and the change in narration style is a little jarring. For their part, Will and Mab blended a little too well. If I was away from the book for a time, it was difficult to tell who was speaking without going back to the beginning of the narration change.

The plot seemed to be split between three problems 1) The repercussions from Will's encounter with Mab's spell 2) Will's issues regarding his parent's desire for him to join the marines and 3) Lucas' curse from his father. Both 1 and 2 seem to be resolved by the end of the book but 3 simply got a band-aid solution. It bothered me that there wasn't further momentum on this issue, but perhaps it will be further explored in a third book? I also felt that the plot seemed to get bogged down in ridiculously long magical preparation, from planning, to gathering ingredients, to prepping the area - only to culminate in a lackluster spell with very little in the way of excitement.

By the end of this book, I found myself skimming the pages. I cared enough about the characters that I wanted to see what happened to them, but not nearly enough to put up with pages and pages of Gratton's flowery prose. The Blood Keeper did not provide the emotional or entertainment pay-off that I was expecting and I do not think I will hang in there for a third in the series.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age: 15 and up
Gender: Female
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Bloodletting, Knifeplay, Poisoning, Violence towards animals
Inappropriate Language: Dick, FUBAR, Bullshit, Bitch, Douchebag, Shit
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking ( )
  ZabetReading | Mar 31, 2013 |
Mab, in the course of discovering and then ending an old curse centered in a bed of roses on family blood land, involves Will. A page turner but recommend for older teens as quite a few drops of blood are required for all the spells, potions and just in general. ( )
  SparklePonies | Feb 15, 2013 |
Mab Prowd's grown up on a secluded farm in Kansas. For her, having no friends (outside the family) and not attending school is no sacrifice as living there also means learning the blood magic they've practiced for generations. With only her crows as companions, Mab loves being able to practice her magic freely, without constraint or condemnation.

One day, though, a spell, quite literally, gets away from her.

And to Will.

Will who's trying to get rid of some of his own kind of demons: nightmares. Thrust into an experience - with Mab and her magic - he's nowhere near ready to comprehend or believe, Will's happy to forget about it.

But the encounter - and things kept from Mab - may bring them together again.

I have to admit that if The Blood Keeper wasn't being offered by Random House as a digital galley, I might not have read - or reviewed - it as soon. I would have been missing out. And so will any of you who wait on this one.

While I did very much enjoy Blood Magic (see my review), it wasn't so much so that it automatically put the sequel at the top of my to-read list. Then I saw an the synopsis (I have a thing for books - especially paranormal ones - set on Midwestern farms) and an excerpt and had to request it.

Everything that I loved about Blood Magic (The Blood Journals #1) was back here, in this second book. It may have just been my association, but the barn and the land around the farm all but compensated for the lake of a cemetery setting this go-round. We still have the darkness, the magic that is not only real but more than just poof'ing yourself into a pretty dress. The Blood Magic is back.

As the blood magic is back, so is the blood. This is, again, not exactly a book for anyone with issues with blood or cutting (your arm/wrist/hand open).

While The Blood Keeper kept everything about Blood Magic that made it a book I very much liked, it also improved on the things that kept me from loving it.

I liked the characters of Nick and Silla, loved how they were parallels of each in many ways but also so similar, too. I just didn''t feel there was quite enough development. The Blood Keeper focuses on two different characters: Will and Mab. Gratton again tells the novel from their two perspectives (interspersed with chapters from an old diary, as in Blood Magic) but gives them more time on their won, more time for readers to learn who they are. They still interact, there's still a story between the two characters, but the whole story isn't between the two characters.

Where I would say Blood Magic was more of a plot book, The Blood Keeper is much more a character book - without losing any of its great plot.

earc received through NetGalley ( )
  BookSpot | Sep 4, 2012 |
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"Teenager Mab Prowd is perfectly content to practice blood magic on the secluded Kansas farm when she's lived all her life until one of her spells taps into a powerful, long-dormant curse and she finds her magic spinning out of control" --

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