Author: Crystal Smith
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her.
But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?
Crystal Smith’s debut novel Bloodleaf is a unique fantasy that integrates an intricate magic system, familial bonds, a root-worthy romance, and a story of survival and sacrifice. From the first chapter, the story sucks you in with forbidden magic that has been bombarded by politics and a full-out witchhunt.
Aurelia, the main character, is not only a fierce and determined heroine in the novel, but her constant ability to analyze every situation she is thrown in allows her to mature throughout the chapters. I love that she wears her heart on her sleeve and is always protecting the people she deeply cares about. She is cautious but friendly. Aurelia is a protector, a fighter for justice, and a survivor. She is so straightforward and honest with everyone she encounters. Additionally, I love her interactions with the other well-developed side characters.
As Aurelia explores her magical abilities, she is thrown into many twists and turns. Her journey throughout the novel is to survive multiple assassination attempts and save her kingdom, which all leads to some surprising secrets. However, as her well-paced story unfolds, I found some of the plot twists to be predictable (or I’m just really good at picking up on very subtle clues).
Overall, if you are in the mood for a new fantasy trilogy filled with royal politics, a slow-burn romance, and NO CLIFFHANGER (that’s right, there’s no cliffhanger . . . YASS), then definitely pick up Bloodleaf. You will gasp, laugh, cry, and cheer throughout Aurelia’s story as she learns to control her magic and help those that she loves.