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Monday, April 11, 2011

For A Book About Magic, Blood & Flowers Lacks Enchantment

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Finally liberated from her pixie dust-addicted parents, 18-year-old Persia has found a home among a misfit band of puppeteers. With the Outlaws, she feels loved, protected and, above all, content. But performing controversial plays, even in secret locations, is not without its dangers. Especially when you enhance the production with a little bit of illegal fey magic. No mater how harmless, it's still against the law.

When an old enemy with a vicious grudge accuses the group of unlawful activity, it looks as if the Outlaws' flamboyant leader will head back to court, maybe even to jail - falsely accused, once again. Persia loves Tonio, the man who gave her a home when she had none, and can't stand to see him broken by the vindictiveness behind the subpoena. The thought of him imprisoned, the Outlaws scattered, is almost more than she can bear. And there's always guilt by association - Persia's in as much trouble as any of her friends. The only way to save Tonio, as well as the rest of the Outlaws, is to hide somewhere far, far away, somewhere so remote that no one will be able to follow.

Persia's never been to Faerie. Mortals aren't allowed without guides from the fey world. Luckily, the Outlaws have Floss, who's not only fey, but fey royalty. She doesn't exactly get along with her ruling family, but that's a small matter compared to saving the Outlaws. Persia can't wait to get to Faerie, a land that everyone knows is filled with flowers and rainbows. That kind of peace is just what Tonio and the rest of them need. But that's not what they find in Faerie, a place that offers its own contradictions. Chased by savage trolls, mocked by feuding royals, and pursued by enemies from both the fey and mortal worlds, the Outlaws must fight with all they've got just to survive. For Persia, the battle is personal. She can't lose her friends, her family, her foundation. She'll risk anything to save what's most precious to her. Anything.

Blood & Flowers by Penny Blubaugh is one of those books that I really wanted to like, but just ... didn't, really. I'm not sure why I felt so disconnected from the story, although it might have to do with the whole puppet thing. It seemed too juvenile to produce the kind of menace that results in real jail time. Hopping into Faerie also jarred me a bit, since Blubaugh never explained what kind of creature Floss was or how exactly the fey/mortal worlds parallel each other. And then, there was the finale. In a word (well, a compound one): anti-climatic. For a book about theater, it lacked drama. And action. And intensity. It just fell flat for me. In fact, the whole novel did. Blubaugh's writing proves she can tell a story well enough, but too many things went wrong in this one. For a book about magic, Blood & Flowers just didn't have much sparkle. Not for me, anyway.

(Readalikes: Reminded me a teensy tiny bit of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language (a few F-bombs, along with milder invectives) and a little violence

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Blood & Flowers from the generous folks at Harper Teen. Thank you!


  1. I know what you mean about how sometimes you just can't quite connect with a story. I'm excited to read your next review of the Secret looks like an interesting book!

  2. I'm always a little sad when you don't like a book! But I LOVE it when you do and then I know for sure I have to read it too!


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