This was such an amazing contemporary YA fantasy with powerful magical families, intergenerational curses, and deadly drama in New Orleans. If you love magic, mystery and amazing LGBTQA+ characters this is definitely a book you shouldn’t miss! I can’t wait for it to be released in April next year so that everyone has a chance to read this marvelous story.
Blood Debts follows the sixteen-year-old twins Clement and Cristina Trudeau, who are heirs of a powerful and magical New Orleans family that has been dethroned from being magical royals after being wrongfully accused of murder and for causing a magical massacre thirty years ago. Cristina, once a talented and dedicated practitioner of Generational magic, has given up magic for good after an ancient spell she used killed their father. Now, with her mother sick from a hex curse, and her brother acting out, she finds herself being pulled back into the world of magic to solve the old murder and prevent another massacre.
I really loved this rich and amazing story, so full of love and family, healing, a mystery to solve, revenge and forgiveness! The world building was so well done and unique, with the best mix of urban fantasy, Voodoo and Southern mystic. It was also full of amazing and diverse characters, who were all so fleshed out and deeply human, so full of flaws, anxiety, regrets and internal anger, and not clearly good or bad. I also really appreciated the authentic New Orleans descriptions and the whole Southern vibe.
The magic system in the book was inspired by Voodoo, but as the author explained in the acknowledgements, the names and spells were fictional, since the real-life practices of Afro and Afro-Latinx rituals are sacred and should be treated as such. I really loved how you could tell that Terry J. Benton-Walker relied on his own experiences when writing this story, and how he made the main characters strong and proud queer and black, and with a though black matriarch as the queen. He also didn’t shy away from difficult topics such as systematic racism, the right to decide about life and death (or even raise the dead), loss of a loved one, grief, guilt and abusive behavior (like using a love spell to force emotions upon someone) or other morally grey actions. But it was nevertheless a heartwarming and uplifting story with strong and lovable characters!
All in all, this was a brilliant, addictive, unique, wonderfully queer and absolutely magical YA fantasy that I cannot recommend enough!
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor/Forge for the ARC of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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Terry J. Benton-Walker
All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charli Meadows Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens Deonn Tracy D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Wesley Chu Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez