Title: The Blood Spell
Author: C. J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #4
Genre: YA, Retellings, Fantasy
Published: February 12th, 2019 (Balzer + Bray)
Synopsis: Blue de la Cour has her life planned: hide the magic in her blood and continue trying to turn metal into gold so she can help her city’s homeless. But when her father is murdered and a cruel but powerful woman claims custody of Blue and her property, one wrong move could expose her—and doom her once and for all. The only one who can help? The boy she’s loathed since childhood: Prince Kellan.
Kellan Renard, crown prince of Balavata, is walking a thin line between political success and devastating violence. Newly returned from boarding school, he must find a bride among the kingdom’s head families and announce his betrothal—but escalating tension among the families makes the search nearly impossible. He’s surprised to discover that the one person who makes him feel like he can breathe is Blue, the girl who once ruined all his best adventures.
When mysterious forces lead to disappearances throughout Balavata, Blue and Kellan must work together to find the truth. What they discover will lead them to the darkest reaches of the kingdom, and to the most painful moments of their pasts. When romance is forbidden and evil is rising, can Blue save those she loves, even if it costs her everything?
Who doesn’t like a good Cinderella story? Mind you, I’ve never been a fan of the original – atleast as far as Cinderella’s character goes – which is why I particularly enjoy retellings of this classic fairytale.
The fourth book in the Ravenspire series is set in the coastal kingdom of Balavata and focuses on Prince Kellan (whom we know as Prince Javan’s best friend from The Traitor Prince) as he returns home from years of schooling and prepares to take up his royal responsibilities. And the first of those is choosing a bride from one of Balavata’s nine noble families – easier said than done when most of them are willing to go to any lengths for a chance at the throne. Enter Bernadina “Blue” De La Cour, childhood rival of the prince and close family friend to the royals. Blue and her father are alchemists, but Blue longs to do more, and has made it her life’s goal to figure out how to transmute metal into gold to help the homeless children of Falaise de la Mer. Her experiments must be conducted in high secrecy though, as magic is forbidden in Balavata after the actions of an evil witch. Everything goes wrong one day as Blue’s father is murdered and shortly after, a cruel and powerful noblewoman claims guardianship of Blue and all her property, determined to use Blue’s abilities to save her family from financial ruin. But an old evil is awakening, children are disappearing from the streets, and someone is determined to unleash a terrible monster that has been chained for many years upon the kingdom once more – and the first in line to go will be the royal family.
Blue is a wonderful character, kind and generous, but no naive pushover. Far more likeable than Cinderella, Blue is willing to stand up and fight for what she believes in, whether it be helping the city’s homeless children or tattling on Prince Kellan’s antics to keep him safe. The development of Blue and Kellan’s friendship is amazing and it develops into a beautiful, if a little clichéd, romance (it is a fairytale after all). Combined with the thrilling adventure which takes centre stage as the story progresses, it makes for quite the Cinderella tale. I particularly loved how the most beloved elements of the story: the fairy godmother, the magical ball gown, the transformed carriage, and most of all the glass slipper were not missed out, but woven into the narrative despite the unique take on the tale. This is also one of those very few retellings where we spend some time inside the head of the villain, the “stepmother”. This added perspective definitely increases the tension as we wonder what will befall Blue next.
Kellan’s character in comparison was nothing so surprising, but a strong one all the same. After the portrayal of him in The Traitor Prince, it’s quite the change seeing his side of things – the boy weighed down with responsibilities and memories of the past. Dinah’s POV was an excellent touch, but I do feel that there was perhaps a little too much insight into her as the villain, almost building sympathy at some points in the story which is not something I really like in retellings. These villains are meant to be disliked! There isn’t much else I can criticize in this book apart from the fact that everything felt very rushed towards the end and it greatly lessened the impact since I had to go back and reread to figure out exactly what had just happened.
As always, I loved the subtle links to the other novels in the series – these easter eggs are always so much fun to spot! It’s a great way of reminding the readers of events in previous books while still keeping each book as a standalone. Overall, I enjoyed this novel and with such a diverse cast and gripping storyline, it was definitely one of the more original retellings I’ve come across!
It seems to be a good year for retellings already! What did you think of this latest take on Cinderella?