Tuesday 3 November 2015

Book Review: Bloodstone by Helen C. Johannes

I thought I'd do something a little different for you this month.

I recently read Bloodstone, by Helen C. Johannes. Having been drawn to the book because of the author's surname (I thought she might've been South African), I will admit to being a little disappointed to find that the book was categorised as Romance. Once I read the description, though, it seemed more Fantasy than Romance to me and, since Fantasy's my preferred genre to read, I picked it up.

Here's the product description:
What if looking at the face of the man you loved meant death?

Years ago, warrior Durren Drakkonwehr was cursed by a mage. Now feared and reviled as the Shadow Man, he keeps to himself, only going to town to trade rare bloodstones--petrified dragon's blood--for supplies. Though he hides his face, he can't hide his heart from the woman who haunts his dreams...

Needing bloodstones for a jewelry commission, Mirianna and her father journey across the dreaded Wehrland where the beast-men roam. When their party is attacked, only the Shadow Man can save them. Strangely drawn to him, Mirianna offers herself in return for her father's rescue.

Living in the ruined fortress with the Shadow Man, Mirianna slowly realizes that a flesh-and-blood man--not a fiend--hides there in hoods and darkness. But are love and courage enough to lift the curse and restore the man?
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and gave it four stars out of five on Goodreads (I very seldom give five star ratings. Very seldom indeed). Here's what I had to say about it:
Don't be mad: I'm going to make a sweeping generalisation here. Girls love romance, and boys love fantasy.

If this is true, then Helen C. Johannes has come up with the perfect formula in Bloodstone. There is just enough romance to keep all those "girly-girls" happy, but not too much to detract from the awesomely epic fantasy that is this story.

Like most men, I'm not generally a romance fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's epic fantasy at its most beautiful. The story is deep and complex, the descriptions are vivid, and the characters well constructed.

The writing is very good - nary a typo to be found, and the language is appropriate to the period (which is something that tends to really bother me about most modern fantasy).

I also thought the introduction was just genius. Many TV shows nowadays start with some shocking revelation. A character gets shot, a secret is revealed, and then the next scene starts with "x days/hours earlier". Some of those work well, but I think that particular trope can be overused. Well, this book starts like that. But, far from being frustrating, it worked extremely well. Many of these TV shows could learn a thing or two!

My only gripe with this book is something that I think many fantasy fans will actually see as a good thing: It's long. Or at least, it feels that way. It's the chapters, you see. If, like me, your busy life doesn't allow for much more than twenty minutes a day spent reading, and you're the kind of person who at least likes to finish a chapter in a sitting, you'll be a bit disappointed. Most of these chapters will take you more than a single reading session to finish, and some of them will take you more than two.

But hey, if that's my only complaint, then the author has done a good job. A great one, in fact.
If you're intrigued by my review, and would like to download a free sample or buy it, click here for the book's page on Amazon.

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