by Crystal Smith
Series: Bloodleaf #1
Published on March 12, 2019 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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?
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It’s been a long time since I truly DNFed a book and I don’t do it lightly, but wow did I struggle to get into Bloodleaf. I wanted to give it as much time as I could so I ended up listening to the audiobook and I think that’s the only reason I made it as far as the 40% mark.
I had a feeling the book wouldn’t work for me after the first few chapters. Aurelia, the heroine, annoyed me from the very beginning with her naivety. And it wasn’t the kind where the person grows and changes over the course of the book, she’s just like that in general. She never grew as a character, never really learned from her mistakes, and it felt like those mistakes are what the entire plot was based on. Add to that the fact that there’s far more telling than showing in the book and I just didn’t care one bit about Aurelia.
Which made liking the book overall pretty difficult too.
The writing was just the “icing” on the cake. Nothing about it hooked me. The dialogue felt stilted (and I was listening to the narrator SAY the lines, not even reading them!) and all the info-dumping at random was too much. The magic system isn’t terribly unique (blood magic is a fairly common thing in fantasy) and the idea that one faction hates magic and another doesn’t is boring for me. I want to see something new!
I’d say starting around the 25% mark I was ready to scrap the book entirely and move on. The only reason I kept reading was because I listened to the audiobook while I was cleaning for a bit but I couldn’t stick with it for long before I called it quits for good. There are so many other fantasy books to read and not enough time to waste on ones that just aren’t working.
As a side note, I heard somewhere that this is a re-telling of The Goose Girl and, if so, it’s not a great one. If you’re looking for a better re-telling, I HIGHLY recommend Thorn by Intisar Khanani. I read it when it was self-published and now it’s being re-published by HarperTeen!