Overall: 2.5/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 2/5
Awesomeness Factor: 2/5
Review in a Nutshell: Bloodleaf is an okay read, but overwhelmingly so. Nothing about it is unique or amazing enough to make it stand out from the YA fantasies it finds itself similar to.
“The wolves howl, Aurelia, and there may come a time when I will no longer be able to hold them back.”
[ Related: Disney-A-Thon Wrap Up! ]
// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Torture, Suicide Mention, Self Harm (for magic), Rape Mention, Animal Death, War Themes, Murder //
“I’m just as lost and confused and lonely as anyone else.”
Release Date: 3/12/2019
Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers
Page Count: 384
Bloodleaf is a loose retelling of The Goose Girl. It follows Princess Aurelia, a blood-magic wielder in a kingdom where witches are the enemy. With her people eager to see her burn, Aurelia is sent to the neighboring kingdom for her safety, and to meet the prince she has been betrothed to since childhood. But when she is betrayed, Aurelia is forced to disguise herself as a commoner as she uncovers a plot that could destroy everything.
Writing & Setting
This book is kinda… basic. The writing is simple– nothing about it stands out one way or another. The setting is the same. Aurelia’s kingdom, Renalt, is puritanical, with religion, modesty, and humility all playing key roles in their society. Meanwhile, Achleva (the kingdom of her betrothed) is much more colorful and free. However, beyond those aspects, there isn’t much else we know about the setting itself. The world building is vague and relies heavily on our preconceived notions of what a fantasy kingdom is like.
The plot is probably where I had the most issues with the book. There was always something interesting happening, but it lacked the originality it desperately needed. Most of my time reading this book was spent thinking: “Oh, [different book] did this trope/plotline a little better!”. Most of the factors that made this book sound interesting to me– witch trials, princess dressing as a commoner and falling in love with someone who doesn’t know her true identity, blood magic, seeing the dead– all were done better in other books.
There is one unique aspect of this book– it’s really, really violent. Seriously. Crystal Smith is not afraid to kill her darlings. This is something I usually appreciate in books, however, because there is a lot of violence and death, some of the specific deaths felt cheap or didn’t deal the emotional damage they could have. I think this is partially due to how often and frequent the deaths were, with no break, plus a lack of attachment to the characters themselves.
Speaking of characters! Yeah I had trouble with some of them. In theory, there are a lot of interesting characters in this book. That said, I just couldn’t connect with them. Maybe it was because of how fast the pace of the book is, but I felt like I never had time to actually get to know and understand each character’s personality. And a couple of times, they were killed before I even got the chance.
I did like the main character, Aurelia, and the love interest, but I felt like I could have liked them so much more!! There was one particular side character I did really enjoy, but they were killed off so….
“The strongest magic requires the greatest sacrifice.”
Pros- Easy to jump into, fast paced
Cons- Lacked originality, couldn’t connect with characters
Overall- 2.5/5 stars.
Bloodleaf just wasn’t for me. Maybe someone who hasn’t read as many similar YA fantasy books may enjoy it a little more, but otherwise, it always felt like a not-as-good version of something else.
I probably won’t be continuing this series, unless the second book has absolutely amazing reviews.
If You Liked Bloodleaf, I’d Recommend:
- The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson
- Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin – [ Review ]
Have you read Bloodleaf? What did you think?