review: blood magic

NOTE: The original title of this book was Blood Sacrifice, and the original title for the series was “Sorcerer’s Creed”. Both the book title and the series title have been changed since I originally downloaded a sample of the book in September 2017. I hope this clears away any confusion, as it took me a minute to figure this out.

Blood Magic by N.P. Martin (2016)

Blood Magic is the first book in N.P. Martin’s Wizard’s Creed urban fantasy series. I originally downloaded a sample of this book and for whatever reason decided not to keep reading. Nine months later, I downloaded the book through my Kindle Unlimited subscription. When I started to read it, I had that feeling I’d read it before and sure enough, I had. I kept reading, though, and got to the 40% mark before putting it down and not picking it up again. Last week, I decided to give the book one last try (because right now I’m all about clearing some titles off my kindle) and I made it to the end this time. While I’m not sure if my history with reading Blood Magic is a ringing endorsement, it does suggest that the story concept is appealing enough to me to have picked the book up multiple times. Blood Magic isn’t one of my recommended reads, but for those of you who are fans of the urban fantasy genre, there are a lot of reasons you might want to give the book a try and, depending on your reading preferences, a handful of reasons why you might want to skip this one and keep browsing for your next read.

The protagonist of Blood Magic is August Creed, and as you’d guess from the name of the series, he is a sorcerer. When the story opens, Creed is at the scene of a gruesome murder, and yet he cannot remember why he’s there. It’s not long before he realizes he’s been cursed. Everyone who ever knew him no longer remembers him and he is effectively erased from the world (Fringe fans—yes, it’s exactly like what happens to Peter). Worse still, the curse threatens to sunder the connection between Creed’s body and soul. Thus, the inner plot for Creed is to find a way to break the curse and prevent his soul from leaving his body. If he fails, he will become a ghoul. Avoiding this fate is what Creed wants most, but he is also desperate for the people who are important to him to remember him. Particularly his girlfriend, Leona Lawson. Creed’s relationship with Leona makes him somewhat atypical among protagonists in the urban fantasy genre because he is not the typical loner who’s isolated from the world. However, like many protagonists in this genre, Creed has a traumatic backstory that will influence him and his choices throughout the story. Creed has some rough edges and dark moments and might not appeal to every reader. That being said, Creed was compelling enough to capture and hold my attention, and at the end of the novel I was left wanting to know what would happen to him next.

The story is told from Creed’s first-person point-of-view. Increasingly, more and more novels in the urban fantasy genre are tilting toward heavier use of internal narrative, leaving us in the mind and thoughts of the narrator for longer stretches of time. Consequently, there is less emphasis upon developing a strong supporting cast of characters who exist, in part, to provide contrast for the protagonist, sources of conflict, opportunities for growth, and people to go to for help. In other words, putting together a Scooby gang for the protagonist doesn’t feel like it is a priority. Instead, the protagonist has to carry much of the weight of the story. In Blood Magic, the supporting cast is composed primarily of Leona Lawson (the love interest) and Mitsuo Sanaka (the mentor). Leona is former military who now works for the Division, a secret government agency tasked with investigating supernatural crimes. Creed has helped her with several of her cases in the past, and in many ways Leona also fills the role of sidekick. Sanaka is Creed’s mentor, and though Leona is somewhat unexpected (but definitely in a good way), Sanaka is more of the cliche mentor figure. The other character in the novel is Blaze, a Garra Wolf that Creed rescued and brought back from a different dimension. On one level, Blaze could be read as the BFF character, and while I like the inclusion of Blaze in the story, he doesn’t talk (unlike Oberon from the Iron Druid Chronicles). None of the supporting characters annoyed me as a reader, but with the exception of Leona, none of them truly peaked my interest.

I’m inclined to compare Blood Magic and Modern Sorcery by Gary Jonas because I left both books wanting to read the next book in the series and thinking each series had potential. The world of Blood Magic and the characters were vivid and colorful. This was especially noticeable to me because I read this book right after reading Modern Sorcery, which in comparison didn’t feel as vibrant and lacked the same kind of depth. Also, Blood Magic moves at a faster pace than Modern Sorcery, but it is also a longer read and at times somewhat repetitive. Though I wouldn’t place Blood Magic in the category of dark fantasy, it does have some darker elements that may make some readers uncomfortable. If you are a reader who does not like the use of strong language in your reading material, be forewarned. I think Modern Sorcery is somewhat tamer in language and tone, but at the same time, it feels like it’s missing something when I consider the stories side by side. The stakes feel like they are much higher in Blood Magic, and this gave the story a greater sense of urgency than the one told in Modern Sorcery. Lastly, if you are the kind of reader who gets impatient with multiple typos, you might want to avoid this book, as the editing could definitely have been better.

I have recently come to the realization that I’ve been looking for a new series that I want to binge on and consume the same way I binge on seasons of Supernatural the moment they hit Netflix. I liked Blood Magic and think it’s better than the average urban fantasy novel, but it’s not going to be make my list of best reads of the year. On a budget? At the time of this writing, Blood Magic is not available from my local library or through the Kindle Unlimited library. Is it worth your book budget dollars? I think it really depends on your preferences when it comes to urban fantasy. I have added the next book in the series, Blood Debt, to my book shopping list, but I’m not yet convinced it’s the binge-worthy series I’ve been looking for. Right now, I’m willing to buy the next book in the series and give N.P. Martin another chance to pull me in.

Have you read Blood Magic or any of the other novels in the Wizard’s Creed series? What did you think? Should I keep reading?

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