Book Title: Blood Debts
Author: Terry J. Benton-Walker
Narrators: Bahni Turpin, Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Torian Brackett, Zeno Robinson
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, LGBTQ+
My rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audio Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thirty years ago, a young woman was murdered, a family was lynched, and New Orleans saw the greatest magical massacre in its history. In the days that followed, a throne was stolen from a queen.
On the anniversary of these brutal events, Clement and Cristina Trudeau—the sixteen-year-old twin heirs to the powerful, magical, dethroned family—are mourning their father and caring for their sick mother. Until, by chance, they discover their mother isn’t sick—she’s cursed. Cursed by someone on the very magic council their family used to rule. Someone who will come for them next.
Cristina, once a talented and dedicated practitioner of Generational magic, has given up magic for good. An ancient spell is what killed their father and she was the one who cast it. For Clement, magic is his lifeline. A distraction from his anger and pain. Even better than the random guys he hooks up with.
Cristina and Clement used to be each other’s most trusted confidant and friend, now they barely speak. But if they have any hope of discovering who is coming after their family, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other and their family’s magic, all while solving the decades-old murder that sparked the still-rising tensions between the city’s magical and non-magical communities. And if they don’t succeed, New Orleans may see another massacre. Or worse.
Terry J. Benton-Walker’s contemporary fantasy debut, Blood Debts, with powerful magical families, intergenerational curses, and deadly drama in New Orleans.
Blood Debts is a gripping and magical story set in New Orleans, filled with mystery, political intrigue, and several characters, each with their own motivations. The premise of Blood Debts was exquisite, and while I thought the execution could use some work, overall, I think it’s a great story, with great potential for the sequel.
Before we get into the plot of the story, I want to discuss the audiobook! Because this story followed several POVs, each one was narrated by a different person. These narrators all did a great job of embodying each character, in my opinion. I also liked that there were different narrators for the characters. This helped me keep track of whose point of view we were in, since all of their voices were so distinct.
As for the story itself, I thought the characters were all really well-rounded, and I could always understand where their motivations came from. Some of the characters could be unlikeable at times, but I think this was intentional. Since they’re teenagers, it makes sense that they’re messy and imperfect. It made the story feel much more genuine.
In regard to the plot, I loved the idea of a magical New Orleans. It’s the perfect setting for a story like this, so I couldn’t wait to read it. And overall, I thought it was done really well. The magic system itself was intricately designed and thoroughly developed.
My main issue with Blood Debts came from all of the plot points. There were so many of them that I had trouble keeping track of what was happening and how each event was connected. I feel the book would have been significantly strengthened had it focused more on fewer main plotlines and worked to thoroughly expand on those. Then, the rest could be explored in the sequel.
Despite this, though, I did still enjoy the premise of Blood Debts, and I’m interested to see where it’s going in the sequel, so I’ll definitely be continuing on with the series!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with both a Digital ARC and an Audio ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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