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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Magical Monday: Bloodstone by Gillian Philip

The excellent sequel to the fabulous Firebrand, published this month by Strident.

Find it at Amazon UK

The Blurb says...
For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clann, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clann. 

In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron - a feral, full-mortal young thief - becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it s nothing he can t handle - until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother. 

In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters...

My verdict: full-throttle fantasy adventure. Essential reading for teens and above.
I loved Firebrand - it's easily one of my favourites of the books I've read in the last year or so (here's my review) - and I was a little worried that this might not live up to it. What groundless fear! Philip is an amazing writer who doesn't slip a millimetre. The voice, the characterisation, the plot, the pace - all perfect. Not that this is an easy read: Philip believes in making her characters - and her readers - suffer. Bloodstone makes a heart-wrenching and tense read. Like the first Rebel Angels volume, the novel focuses on Sithe characters interacting with our world (the Otherworld, as far as they're concerned). These are not the fluffy pink fairies of our disneyfied culture but nor are they evil faeries seeking solely to harm mortals. Philip's Sithe warriors are the feudal fae of folklore who lack human sensibilities but are perfectly capable of love and loyalty in their own way. Her main characters certainly gain both love and loyalty from her readers.


Seth's first-person narration, which was one of Firebrand's strengths, remains strong and engaging while showing some character development since the beginning of the saga (not too much, though - we love him for his moody teen-style aspects!). Passages of third-person narration also allow us insight into others' perspectives,with a different but equally effective voice. Like most readers of the first instalment, I fell in love with the central characters, and Philips has gleefully toyed with that emotion in this novel, whilst also providing new characters to share our devotion.

It's impossible (for me at least) to talk about plot without giving too much away, but take my word that the story will grip you and not let you put this down (just ask my poor neglected family!). The pace is relentless and sustained, with occasional humour, albeit of the dark variety, to lift the mood. There are two more books in this series to come, and I cannot imagine what they will contain, but no doubt I will once again be thrilled and gutted by turns.

This is my fourteenth British Books Challenge review.

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