“We Are Blood and Thunder” by Kesia Lupo unfolds in a world where magic is a double-edged sword, depending on which side of a quarantined city’s walls you reside. The narrative is driven by two women, Lena and Constance, whose destinies are entwined by a spell that has brought a devastating storm cloud upon the city of Duke’s Forest. The heart of the spell lies at the crux of their intertwined paths and the resolution of the city’s looming doom.
|Title||We Are Blood and Thunder|
|Genre||Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Romance|
|Publication Date||April 4, 2019|
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Lena, marked as an outcast due to a facial birthmark and suspected of magecraft, finds herself fleeing from Duke’s Forest to the City of Kings. Here, in contrast to her home city that fears magic, she must tame her newfound powers by aligning herself with one of the nine gods, forsaking the worship of Ancestors she was brought up with1. On the flip side, Constance, the Duke’s daughter and a trained mage, returns to Duke’s Forest with a mission to eliminate the spell’s heart that binds them both.
The story is told from alternating points of view between Lena and Constance, creating a narrative tapestry rich in personal quests, and diverging experiences with magic and social hierarchy. This dual-perspective storytelling was appreciated by some readers for keeping the story’s pace engaging, although it took a bit of time to get used to the switching POVs.
The magic system within the book is organized around a council of nine gods, each overseeing a distinct form of magic. This framework, paired with the color-coding of magical disciplines, added a unique flair to the narrative. The setting, blending elements of medieval and steampunk aesthetics, also garners praise for its imaginative portrayal, particularly the contrasting atmospheres of the gloomy Duke’s Forest and the bustling, sunlit streets of the City of Kings.
However, not all is smooth sailing in Lupo’s debut. Some readers found the world-building lacking in depth and the character development uneven, making it hard to fully immerse in the story or connect with the characters. The ending, too, came across as rushed, blunting the impact of key plot twists.
On a personal note, as someone deeply invested in fantasy narratives, I found the concept of “We Are Blood and Thunder” promising. The juxtaposition of two cities with opposing views on magic, and two women bound by a spell yet on diverging paths, sets a fertile ground for exploring themes of identity, destiny, and the dichotomy of fear and acceptance towards the unknown. However, the execution left me yearning for more—more depth in world-building, more fleshed-out characters, and a more nuanced unraveling of the plot twists that were key to the climax.
In wrapping up, Kesia Lupo’s “We Are Blood and Thunder” presents a narrative filled with potential, a unique magic system, and a plot driven by strong female characters with intertwined destinies. While it has its share of shortcomings in world-building and character development, the imaginative setting and the fresh take on magic offer a distinctive reading experience that fantasy aficionados might find worth exploring.