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Friday, August 17, 2012

Book review: Daughter of the Blood

Synopsis: Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Realm readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence - and corruption.
Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men—sworn enemies—know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love—and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining...
Jaenelle, is destined to rule the Blood, if she can reach adulthood. Saetan, High Lord of Hell and most powerful of the Blood males, becomes Jaenelle's surrogate father and teacher. He cannot protect her outside Hell, where he rules. She refuses to leave Terreille, risking herself to protect or heal other victims of violence. Can Daemon, Saetan's estranged son, keep her safe from the machinations of the evil High Priestess?

Review: This is most certainly not a book for the faint of heart.
I would classify it as a dark (and let's really put some emphasis on the "dark", please) somewhat-feminist fantasy novel.
The society which is presented to us is one where women rule and men are mere subjects, more likely to take on roles and serve in ways that are usually thought of as typically female. The Blood are the ruling class, as they are people who are gifted with magic. Most of the Blood receive their jewels upon completing certain rituals as children, which will determine how strong their power is according to the colour of the jewel they receive. The Blood are supposed to be the keepers of balance in the world, but as the centuries pass their society and leaders grow corrupted and the true implications of what means being of the Blood are now disfigured and erased of the meaning they once held.
That is why, when seven hundred years ago, the prophecy of the arrival of the Queen is seen, groups of the Blood who were still trying to maintain themselves away of the growing power and corruption spreading under the orders of the Priestess Dorothea, hold their breath.
And, when all hope seems to be lost, the Queen appears. But she is still a little girl and, in order to grow to become the Queen the Blood need, she must survive until adulthood.

This book, as it follows the stories of Saetan, Lucivar, Daemon and, later on, Surreal and how they come to find this little girl and be a part of her life, tackles several disturbing and uncomfortable topics. Nevertheless, the author never mentions them just for the sake of shocking the reader. No. She mentions them because they are essential for the understanding of how things work in this world, of how these characters came to be what they are and of how Jaenelle (the little girl, the Queen) is going to have to walk a very hard, torturous, disturbing path, that will leave permanent scars, in order to become what she's destined to be.

There are several moments that are narrated in a rather explicit way, most of them being about horrific and down-right disturbing practices. If you can't take reading a full scene where a castration of a man is being described, then this is most likely not the book for you. It certainly left me wondering if I really wanted to go on, but the amazing plot and characters definitely convinced me to keep on reading.

The book can also feel incredibly confusing at the beginning. There are jewels ranks, male and female titles that are different from each other but that, sometimes, are equivalents, realms, races, creatures, dominance and submission aspects that you need to understand, terms that have entirely different meanings in this world and the rules of their society and hierarchy. It might seem overwhelming, and it might feel like that at the start, but even if you don't understand a certain aspect, just keep on reading because every single detail will be slowly explained as the story evolves.
Don't be put off by the confusion you are bound to experience at the beginning.

This book is definitely worth going through all the confusion and the oh-my-god-i-can't-believe-that-just-happened-let-me-just-close-my-eyes-and-pretend-i-didn't-read-that moments.
Overall, I give it 4 out of 5★! And I can't wait to start reading the second novel in this series.

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