Thank you, NetGalley for giving me access me to an eBook copy of Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker for free in exchange for an honest review. The eBook I received from NetGalley didn’t have a cover image, so I am using a cover image I have found through google (Fair use under the copyright act sections 29 and 30 under use for a review) because I adore this cover. Also just a quick little side step Happy 500th blog post to me!
Happy belated book birthday for yesterday
Title: Blood Debts
Author: Terry J. Benton-Walker
Genre: LGBTQIA+, Young Adult Fiction on Prejudice & Racism
Synopsis: In New Orleans gods meddle and magic will betray you, but this time justice will reign. Thirty years ago, a young woman was murdered, a family was lynched, and New Orleans saw the greatest magical massacre in its history. In the days that followed, a throne was stolen from a queen.
On the anniversary of these brutal events, Clement, and Cristina Trudeau - the sixteen-year-old twin heirs to the powerful, magical, dethroned family - are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother. Until, by chance, they discover their mother isn't sick - she's cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule.
Someone who will come for them next. Cristina, once a talented and dedicated practitioner of Generational magic, has given up magic for good. An ancient spell is what killed their father and she was the one who cast it. For Clement, magic is his lifeline. A distraction from his anger and pain. Even better than the random guys he hooks up with.
Cristina and Clement used to be each other's most trusted confidant and friend, now they barely speak. But if they have any hope of discovering who is coming after their family, they'll have to find a way to trust each other and their family's magic, all while solving the decades - old murder that sparked the still - rising tensions between the city's magical and non-magical communities. And if they don't succeed, New Orleans may see another massacre. Or worse.
Blood Debts is set in a magical version of New Orleans. Since I read Interview with the Vampire I have been obsessed with New Orleans and it is on my travel bucket list and I love anything set there.
There is a lot held within these pages from a complex magic system to well thought out characters with depth and purpose. Just quickly while talking about the magic system there is an acknowledgement at the end of the book explaining how the magic system was adapted from Afro and AfroLatinx beliefs and I thought it was a nice respectful touch. This book is 416 pages and the story confronts generational trauma, the controversial nature of love spells (love spells are NOT consent people), the very real costs of an eye for an eye (an eye for an eye makes the world blind), and racism.
While there are several perspectives from different characters throughout this book the main focus is on twins Clement and Christina Trudeau. I felt for the twins, you really can’t help but want to give them a pep talk and just be friends with them. That being said I am probably showing my age dear Reader but it is very clear they are teenagers, they make mistakes we all do, but I may have given them a verbal “Don't! Even think about it" more than once. There is violence in this book, but I will say it was done tastefully and enabled the story to develop rather than the shock factor.
Personally, I think this is a very strong and promising start to a series. A lot could have gone wrong combining so many different elements into a single book, but Terry made it work. A must read for magic lovers and people who love New Orleans.