Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht

Publisher: Night Shade Books

Date: January 2011

Description (From Indiebound): Liam never knew who his father was. The town of Derry had always assumed that he was the bastard of a protestant - his mother never spoke of him, and Liam assumed he was dead. But when the war between the fallen and the fey begins to heat up, Liam and his family are pulled into a conflict that they didn't know existed. A centuries old conflict between supernatural forces seems to mirror the political divisions in 1970's era Ireland, and Liam is thrown headlong into both conflicts! Only the direct intervention of Liam's real father, and a secret catholic order dedicated to fighting "The Fallen" can save Liam... from the mundane and supernatural forces around him, and from the darkness that lurks within him.

One of the things that I really like about having this blog is that it forces me to admit and cure my ignorance on a number of subjects. For instance, I can tell you that I truly didn't have a clue about what took place in the 1970s in Northern Ireland. Thankfully, education through fantasy books has struck again, and Stina Leicht's Of Blood and Honey cleared that problem up in a hurry. If you'd like to know more about The Troubles, then you can refer to this quick guide here, or better yet, just go and buy Stina's debut novel from Night Shade Books.

I definitely didn't realize how interesting and dangerous the 70s were in Ireland, but Leicht captures it wonderfully. Liam's story meshes incredibly well with real-world events, and the tragedies that befall him really help the reader understand just how crazy this period in history was.

Liam's story is incredibly tragic. His fight against the darkness in him, and how that darkness keeps causing both he and his family to suffer is heart-breaking. Things DO NOT go well for Liam, and it makes for great reading. I didn't expect a single thing that happened to him to go quite the way that it did, with the exception of the end of the novel. Even then, I didn't quite get it right. And that's a very good thing folks. This book was utterly unpredictable to me, and so it should provide you with plenty of great story.

If I had to knock a couple of things in this book, I'd pick the fact that it was a little lighter on the supernatural aspects than I had imagined, and that the middle was just a tad too slow for me. The lack of magic was only a letdown for me because the fantasy aspects were very cool when they happened, so I wanted more. For some, this combined with a slightly slower middle of the novel might make for a slow read because there's just not enough magic to keep you going. But in the end, I was able to get past that and realize just what a great story was lurking on these pages, fantastical magic or no. NOTE: I have the personal guarantee of Stina Leicht that the second book has more magic in it, so fear not!

I loved

  • The utter unpredictability. I was truly surprised by a number of things that happened to Liam. Leicht really knows how to put her characters through the ringer.
  • The demon-fighting, whiskey drinking, psycho-analyzing father Murray. I'll be interested in seeing more of him in the sequel, which is the next book on my planned reading
  • The fact that Leicht did her homework, on everything from The Troubles to racing cars, and it shows. Nothing felt like she was winging it, or relying on the reader to know less about the subject than she did. I looked up The Troubles after reading the book, and it mirrors the every detail of the book.
  • The message this book is sending about violence and fear and how they make for some really terrible decisions. Look into The Troubles, and you'll see the seeds of the same thing in America today, and it's somewhat terrifying.
I hated

  • The middle of the book was a little slow for me, even with magic starting to take more of a role, and it slowed my reading of the book somewhat.
Of Blood and Honey gets 8.75/10. This is a VERY good debut from an author that I'm looking forward to reading again soon. The mesh of fantasy and history  is excellent, and Liam's life is tragic and incredible. If you like fantasy and love history, go and buy this book, and get the sequel while you're at it (released just this week!)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review! I've been hearing really good things about Blood and Honey since this book came out, and somehow I never got around to reading it.  Good thing it's library day for me!