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BLOOD HEIR by Amelié Wen Zhao

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder. 

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls. 

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

Title : Blood Heir
Author : Amelié Wen Zhao
Series : Blood Heir (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count :  459
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : November 19, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★

Hollis’ 2 star review

While this story opened up with a banger of a first chapter, unfortunately I think it was a concept that worked better as a pitch.

This fantasy feels fairly familiar to other revenge plot stories but with a twist : the heroine, the princess, the fugitive, is a monster. Or, rather, has a monstrous power. And the hero, well. He’s a conman with a seedy past. With a Russian-esque feel to the worldbuilding, think Grishaverse but not as direct a copy as another recent release, and interesting character archetypes, I really thought this would be a winner.

But sadly I was feeling some concerns around the 20% mark and it didn’t really get better. Sometimes it got worse.

There were a lot of familiar tropes and situations, the dialogue would occasionally fall into awkward cliche, and everything good and interesting just felt overshadowed by the rest. Also, I found myself rather confused by some of the timeline and events that lead up to where everything opened up. Maybe it was just me, maybe I missed it, but that confusion certainly didn’t help. There was definitely potential, and again in theory this should’ve been great, I just don’t think the writing did it any favours. Nor did a few repeats (and more repeats) of certain things I won’t spoil.

Considering all the controversy around this one, I’m extra sad I didn’t love this. I don’t know what changes, if any, were made, but as of the reading of this edition, I don’t believe any of the complaints were warranted. Topics of exploitation and the violation of human rights, it’s all worthy dialogue. Set against a fantasy backdrop makes the reality less devastating to experience but this was a main plot point and definitely key for our lead character and what drives her. She’s trying to do good, fix her world, and we need more of that in our world. The outcry just seems ridiculous and also so very shortsighted. But I digress.

I’m not sure if I’ll read on in this series. But who am I kidding; I probably will.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

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