"Bloodleaf" Book Review
Updated: Jun 29, 2019
Author: Crystal Smith
Genre: YA Fantasy Rating: 2.5/5
Bloodleaf is a retelling of the novel The Goose Girl, following Princess Aurelia as she’s almost killed for witchcraft, having been caught using blood magic. She flees to a land she believes will be safe, only to find herself fighting to stop an evil plot that could kill those she loves.
One of the good things about this novel is that it creates powerful visuals when it comes to Aurelia’s use of magic. I know what she’s feeling, smelling, experiencing, thinking, everything, through beautiful prose that are strong in flow and presence. But that seems to be one of the few places that sensory reaches. For example, there is no sensory when it comes to romantic scenes. I don’t think these scenes get the attention they deserve. I want some Sarah J. Maas action (maybe not that hardcore. Basically porn for teenagers). I want some Laini Taylor magic.
Speaking of love interests, they come across as simply convenient, not genuine. This next example is a SPOILER ALERT****Out of nowhere, Kellan confesses his love for Aurelia when we have barely gotten to know him and don’t really care for him. We haven’t seen this love that’s claimed to be growing. Then when he’s “killed”, it feels like that kiss was just a way to make the death more impactful. Nope. The kiss is a poor attempt to make us care about Kellan’s death. And I barely see any substance in Aurelia and Zan’s relationship. At first, it reads like the only reason they feel anything for one another is because they are both conveniently attractive and around the same age. Her love with Zan builds too quickly. Not believable she’d have a connection when she’s barely known him for a day. By the end, it makes it kind of hard to really root for them to be together.****
Honestly, it’s hard to root for anyone. None of the side characters are developed enough for me to truly care about them. For a long time, I don’t have many redeeming qualities for Zan to give me a reason to like him. He only serves as a love interest (like I mentioned earlier) and a savior (which I’ll address later), and for a long time I don’t have any reason to like him. I honestly wouldn’t really care if any of the side characters died.
Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Aurelia for a little bit. She really acts like an idiot for the majority of the book. I don’t think any of these things really give away spoilers, so no alert needed for the following examples. Aurelia attends the hanging of witches, even though she’s a witch herself, as though she were invincible. She chooses not to stay with Zan when she’s in a foreign place with nothing, not taking his money because she believes that would support him stealing her horse. So, she wanders the town with absolutely nothing, fighting for scraps. And she has charms on a bracelet she sometimes uses for food, but then she’ll give them away like they’re pieces of candy, not saving them when they would have been important.
She would have been dead by now, and what’s so annoying is that it’s because of the men that she isn’t. She barely tries to protect herself. The men are always coming to her rescue. For a majority of the book, there are no strong female characters, and that’s so important in YA nowadays.
The book only really gets good for me at around the last 100 pages. The plot has more action, more depth. The characters are more likeable, such as Aurelia. She’s acting smart and capable. She’s protecting herself. I’m seeing more agency from everyone. I’m getting a deeper look into history and that magic is as present as ever. Where was that for the rest of the book?
I’d give this book a 2.5/5. I’d still be interested in hearing your thoughts, although I really do not think this book is worth the read.