Author: Crystal Smith
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Run Time: 10 hours, 35 minutes
Trigger Warning: Blood magic/self harm, loss of a loved one, violence and gore, brief instances of ableism (please inform me if I have missed anything and I will update this section)
Goodreads Summary: Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?
What a treat, y’all! I’m sad this book seems to be flying under the radar because honestly I need someone to scream and spazz out and theorize with! If you like intrigue, action, slow burn romance, and dark fantasy, then Bloodleaf is ABSOLUTELY for you!
W H A T I L I K E D
- Aurelia! I loved Aurelia—she was spunky, stubborn, and refreshingly teenager-ish for an upper YA fantasy book! What I mean is that Aurelia acted like a realistic teenager. She was moody and rebellious, but in the end she learned and grew and changed and she had a good heart. I loved how much depth she had and how we got to see her journey with battling her internalized prejudice.
- Zan! My sweet baby cinnamon roll! Aaagh! Where to begin? I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that I loved how much depth and history Smith showed us for Zan’s character. He was far from perfect, but he was good, and that’s what I loved about him. I can’t wait to see where he’ll go in book two!
- The Side Characters! One thing I believe is that a good supporting cast has two roles: first, to make the main characters stand out, and second, to be added incentive for readers to invest in the story. And, boy, did Smith do a good job with that! Nathaniel, Kate, and even Kellan, Lisette, and Aurelia’s younger brother shine in their own rights! They added such warmth, humor, and dimension to the story and I fell for them hard.
- The Plot And The Pacing! Smith’s plot is intricate, but her pacing is impeccable! Measured and intentional, the pace never skips a beat. And what a story Smith told! I wasn’t too familiar with the fairy tale The Goose Girl (which Bloodleaf is based on) so I looked it up right before reading. I found that you don’t need to be familiar with the tale to understand Bloodleaf, but that being said, Smith’s retelling is incredibly compelling. She diverges from the original enough that her work seems almost entirely it’s own thing, but leaves enough of the original tale’s elements within the story for fairy tale lovers to be satisfied with the easter eggs.
- Disability Representation! The love interest, Zan, is differently abled! He has a heart condition and we get to see how it impacts his life. I loved that Zan wasn’t treated like anything other than an ordinary boy who happened to have to do things a little differently sometimes. Zan didn’t feel sorry for himself, nor did others feel sorry for him because of his heart condition. Instead, Zan lived life as fully as he could, and pushed himself to live as “ordinary” a life as possible.
W H A T I D I S L I K E D
- Two Brief Instances of Ableism. I do want to say that, while the disability rep was good overall, there were two instances of unchecked ableism on Aurelia’s part. They were brief, but they were still there, and as someone who is differently abled and has a heart condition myself, it stung a little. I was able to move past it, but I understand if other readers can’t and/or don’t want to.
- Mildly Predictability. There were a few things that I saw coming, but, personally, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the read.
All in all, I really enjoyed Bloodleaf! It had me on the edge of my seat and biting my nails in anxious anticipation so many times. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced, action-packed, intrigue-filled read!
R A T I N G:
W H A T D O Y O U T H I N K ?
- Have you read Bloodleaf? What are your thoughts on it?
- If you haven’t read Bloodleaf, are you interested in it?