Book Review: Blood and Salt

Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt #1) by Kim Liggett
Release Date ~ September 22, 2015
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers ~ Penguin
ISBN13: 9780399166488
ARC received from Penguin Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

Blood and Salt is likely one of my most unexpected reads this year but in a very pleasant way. There's a little bit of horror, but a lot of magic which makes for a surprising and fun read - one that is ideal for the autumn season right before Halloween!

  1. A good horror read for those who don't typically read it:

    I think the fact that Blood and Salt is fairly light on horror is going to cut both ways; on one hand, it's great for people who are new to horror or don't particularly love to read it. This is a great book for them. On the other hand, those expecting a terrifying story likely won't find it here. Blood and Salt has some disturbing, eerie scenes but nothing that left me scared to turn the light off.
  2. A creative and unlikely mashup:

    Blood and Salt has been marketed as Children of the Corn meets Romeo and Juliet, which is one description I never imagined I would hear. And I have to say, it's an accurate description. The story is part star-crossed, fated lovers trapped in a bizarre and life-threatening (potentially supernatural) situation. The romance also has an important role to play, as its integral to the overall plot and why certain events are happening. 
But more importantly than simply a unique storyline, there's some interesting myths and magic behind the events unfolding in Blood and Salt. I'm a curious person, so I wanted to know precisely what was going on as Ash tries to figure out what happened to Katia and how that relates to Ash. 

The biggest disappointment to me was that Blood and Salt didn't feel like true horror which is what I was hoping to find in this book. Horror is a tricky genre to write, and while the story started strong, it didn't maintain the creepy atmosphere that it started with. 

The combination of horror and romance is a unique one, and I think it's the main reason why Blood and Salt is one of the more interesting books I've read. It stands out from others, and I loved seeing such a creative spin!


Book Review: The Impostor Queen

The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah Fine
Release Date ~ January 5, 2016
Margaret K. McElderry Books ~ Simon & Schuster Canada
ISBN13: 9781481441902
ARC received from S&S Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

The Impostor Queen reminded me a little bit of Disney's Frozen - now bear with me - but not in a way that felt overly familiar or predictable. The world of The Impostor Queen is a magical realm ruled by a young queen who is gifted with awe-inspiring fire and ice magic, in a world where magic isn't very common and the two types are not combined in such strength. And many of the characters struggle with themselves and their own identities. But that's where the similarities end.

  1. Strong character development:

    Ellie's demeanor changes drastically over the course of the story, as she leaves the only life she's known behind her. It's a pivotal moment for her, because while she has clearly always been a curious person it spurs her to action and to finally start making decisions for herself. It can be tricky to write a character who experiences such extreme changes in just one book, but it's done well here in a way that feels natural and crucial.
  2. A vibrant fantasy world:

    This is so important in fantasy books, but too often it's skipped over. Sarah Fine has put an incredible amount of thought and imagination into creating the world found in The Impostor Queen making it a captivating read in which it's easy to lose yourself as a reader. There are rules to magic and how it can be used, some of the politics are hinted at (and I'm hoping to learn more of later on in the series), along with secrets and mysteries.
  3. A story that doesn't disappoint:

    It's fairly often that I read a book which I enjoy, but disappoints me in some small ways. Usually, it's because I feel the book relies on cliches or overused plot twists. I loved that The Impostor Queen didn't rely on any of these to keep the story moving ahead. For example, instead of having a love triangle, the romance in the story changes and flows naturally. And instead of dragging out the story with a ridiculous and unnecessary fight, the characters learn to deal with their problems head on. These are minor details, but they make for a much more enjoyable story. 

I've written about another one of Sarah Fine's books before, but I have to repeat myself here: Sarah is an exceptional author. She's talented and writes beautiful books which hold your attention and flow beautifully. She instills emotion behind each and every word and truly sets the stage for her story with the language she uses.

The only thing I might add to the story is additional character development for some of the secondary characters. While Elli stands out as a lifelike character, I felt that some (Oskar and Sig, in particular) could have benefited from more backstory and more dimension. I'm optimistic that this is something that will come in the future, as they're able to engage more with the plot on their own instead of relying on revealing more about Elli's situation as The Impostor Queen needed to do.

The Impostor Queen is a lively book, one that will readily hook readers for a satisfying read and left me anxiously awaiting the next book to learn more about the future Kupari and its citizens.

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