When loyalty to your family, community, and your own interests are at odds, every choice you make might not ever feel like the right choice. This predicament often rings true in positions of power. If you are an heir born to a family of import such as the ruling family of a tribe or the royal family of a kingdom, you are groomed for a leadership role since the moment of birth. Commitment to your community and upholding your family’s bloodline takes immediate precedence in your life, and your individuality and personal desires might as well be an afterthought. Now imagine having to take on those responsibilities as a twelve-year-old girl who aches to leave her village, or as a fifteen-year-old boy leading a troop on the front lines of an ancient war.
These themes present a narrative rife with interesting ways to explore troubled characters. But when you add some adventure, cursed magic, ghosts, witches, and a healthy dose of murdering metal-clawed monsters, you find yourself reading Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s exciting debut Blood of Heirs, the first book of the The Coraidic Sagas. It is an arresting tale of loyalty and sacrifice that features challenging dilemmas, fierce characters and intense emotions.
Blood of Heirs has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. There are two POVs in the story: Lidan, the twelve-year-old first daughter of the chief of a southern tribe, who yearns to ride and fight instead of being sheltered at home; and Ran, son of a war-weary duke who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and has his former life ripped away forever. With a title like ‘Blood of Heirs’ one would expect both children be thrust into their leadership roles early on, especially when both their fathers’ lives are severely threatened. But Wanstall-Burke takes the reader through some unexpected turns, and the book’s unpredictability ends up being one if its strongest assets.
There were a couple aspects to the book that I wasn’t as big a fan of. The book reads like two entirely separate novellas that are almost completely unrelated to each other. There are some tangential relationships via a shared presence or a bit of common information, but other than that, they could have been two separate standalone stories without much editing needed. I get the sense that they’ll be intersecting as the trilogy continues, but I was expecting more than what we were given by the book’s end.
Another item that stood out was that the intensity level of the emotions always seemed to be turned up to 11. Granted, the parents in this story are awful – and I do mean awful, just horrible people – it felt like every conversation with them was overwrought with tension, lip-biting-until-it-bleeds anxiety, white-knuckled icy glares, and the like. After a certain point, the dramatic peaks started to feel less powerful when there were no valleys to climb up from.
But overall, this was a very enjoyable read, with good mysteries, weird creatures, ghosts, cursed magic, clan wars, siege battles, and a solid cast of supporting characters that keep things interesting as the chapters flew by. I got the sense that this first book was just setting the table before the real feast begins. How do I know? Because I’m already halfway through the sequel.
Review by Adam Weller
7.5/10 from 1 reviews
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