Book Reviews: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton and The Golden Door by Emily Rodda

Blood MagicBlood Magic
The Blood Journals
Tessa Gratton
Bluefire/Random House Children’s Books, July 2012
ISBN 978-0-375-86733-0
Trade Paperback

I LOVE this book… much, in fact, that I can’t possibly write a review without sounding like a 12 year old girl gushing about Justin Bieber.  You deserve better than that, so I’ll simply bullet the things I liked best about Ms. Gratton’s writing style, and Blood Magic specifically.

·    Ms. Gratton weaves this compelling enchantment by letting the characters have their own voices.  Sometimes Silla is telling the story, sometimes it is Reese, or Nicholas and sometimes, we are shown excerpts from a very old journal.
·    The font used for the journal entries is a beautiful script, lending authenticity to the tale.
·    Characters are aptly named.  We are given hints as to who the old souls are, as they have older names, such as Drusilla (Silla), Josephine, and Philip.  The cold, always immaculate stepmother—Lilith, of course.
·    Nicholas is listening to NARKOTIKA!  Who doesn’t love Cole St. Clair??? J
·    Ms. Gratton teases all senses as she describes the metallic scent of blood, roughness of headstones beneath your hands, the different colors during sunrise and sunset, even going so far as to note that Nicholas notices the air here is much different from Chicago.  The deep, dull ache of a cut.  The sweet taste of a first kiss.
·    The book has everything—crushes, family, fear and mystery.  Wow, what a mystery!  This reader was tricked several times, as I smugly “figured it out”, only to be disproven in later chapters.
·    Ms. Gratton is a bold author.  She is not afraid to lure her readers into becoming enamored with a character, then ripping our little hearts out when she kills said character.  As a matter of fact, I believe that this “amuses and delights” her.
·    While Blood Magic falls in the Young Adult genre, Not-so-Young Adult readers (me) will devour it.  On the other hand, I had no qualms about purchasing a second copy for my 14-year old niece.  That’s just good writing.

I can’t wait to read Crow Memory and The Blood Keeper.  Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2012.


The Golden DoorThe Golden Door
The Three Doors Trilogy #1

Emily Rodda
Scholastic Press, October 2012
ISBN 978-0-545-42990-0

Undoubtedly one of the best children’s books (age 8 – 12) that I have ever read.  Ms. Rodda’s The Golden Door begins in a walled city, which is under attack.  They mythical creatures responsible for wreaking havoc and taking lives are described just enough to fuel the imagination.  As the frequency of the vicious attacks increases, three brothers begin to theorize about the entity behind these “skimmers”.

The boys, it seems, are not alone in their plotting, as the walled city’s Warden quickly announces a reward to the boy who can leave the city to conquer the evil behind the destruction.  As the enchanting tale unfolds, we quickly see that the youngest brother, he of copper hair, is the one for the mission, in spite of his age.  Rye’s simple, yet unwavering dedication to the cause is simply endearing.  His quiet determination earns respect, and Rye makes many acquaintances on his journey.  Soon, he has a small bag of inexplicable magic strengths to aid him.

This book is beautifully written, almost with an older style of speaking, which is almost lyrical at times.  Captivating from beginning to end, and filled with strong, rich characters, I highly recommend this book for those 4th – 7th graders that haven’t yet been bitten by the reading bug.  Oh, and the very best part…………this is book is the first of three.  Rest assured, I will be purchasing the next two as soon as they become available.

Reviewed by jv poore, January 2013.