The Blood Spell – C.J. Redwing – Ravenspire #4 – Balzer+Bray – Published 12 February 2019
Blue de la Cour has her life planned: hide the magic in her blood and continue trying to turn metal into gold so she can help her city’s homeless. But when her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her—and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan.
Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata, is walking a thin line between political success and devastating violence. Newly returned from boarding school, he must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal—but escalating tension among the families makes the search nearly impossible. He’s surprised to discover that the one person who makes him feel like he can breathe is Blue, the girl who once ruined all his best adventures.
When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together to find the truth. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts. When romance is forbidden and evil is rising, can Blue save those she loves, even if it costs her everything?
The Blood Spell is the fourth book in C.J. Redwine’s series of fairytale retellings. As she has with each of the three previous instalments, The Blood Spell is a wonderful fantasy novel in its own right with threads of the familiar fairytale cleverly woven through the plot to create a unique and thrilling tale.
Blue (love her name) de la Cour is an alchemist, working alongside her father to make potions and tonics to heal the people of Falaise de la Mer. But Blue longs to do more, especially for the young street children, so each night she works on her experiment to turn lead into gold. But Blue must be careful not to get caught revealing her secret magic powers, simple and unthreatening though they might be, for fear of death. But when Blue’s father is murdered and a powerful and cruel woman takes guardianship of Blue, she is surprised to find support from her childhood nemesis, the Crown Prince Kellan. Together, Kellan and Blue work to find a way to free Blue, all the while dealing with Kellan’s looming betrothal season, and the threat of the return of the Blood Wraith.
This is a retelling of Cinderella so I’m not sure why the events came as a surprise to me. But, because the story was so different from the original tale to begin with, as the story fell into alignment with what we know of the fairytale, the twists walloped me over the head. I’ve always hated the evil stepmother and stepsister and in this retelling the character who plays the stand-in role for the evil stepmother is particularly loathsome. This, perhaps, is made more obvious due to Blue and her wonderful heart. But Blue, while kindness personified, is no soft pushover naively singing in her garden. Okay, that’s funny. I just wrote that and then remembered that Blue actually does spend some time singing while working in her garden, but the point is that she is strong, super intelligent, fiercely brave and willing to stand up to anything she believes is wrong or dangerous. I found her far more likeable than the usual Cinderella, far more likely to take action and stand up for what she believes in. This means looking after street children, agreeing to help her mean new guardian and constantly annoying Prince Kellan by trying to protect him.
The relationship, the romance between Kellan and Blue is superb. They have a shared history, a childhood of family friendship, years of attempted pranks and dares on Kellan’s behalf that Blue consistently put a stop to, and a progression of tolerance and continued annoyance into their teenage years. But when that shared history collides again when Blue loses her father, she finds that Kellan is the only one to understand and provide the support she needs. Neither expect their tenuous friendship to develop into deeper feelings, Blue knows she has no chance with Kellan even if he wasn’t a prince and as the crown prince, Kellan must soon choose a bride from one of the ruling families.
The adventure in this story is thrilling and the tension high as the characters work together to fight the threats they face. Combined with sumptuous romance, a deeply moving story of loss and grief, evil characters to root against, friendship and great sacrifice, The Blood Spell is a unique and enjoyable fairytale retelling and a perfect addition to this series, each of which can be read as standalone titles. I do hope the Ravenspire series continues and I look forward to reading the next instalment of this magical series.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Cinderella retelling, magic, alchemy, fairytales, friendship, grief, family, romance.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Fantasy magic and violence. Death of children.
Published: 12 February 2019 by Balzer+Bray.
Formats: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 400 pages.