Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy

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.

The intriguing title and that stunning cover first caught my attention. I was completely sold with an atmospheric New Orleans setting.

Speaking of that stunning cover – from its design I expected a historical fantasy. That’s not the case. The setting is modern day New Orleans thirty years after a magical massacre. With the anniversary of that massacre coming up, tensions are on the rise again between the magical and non-magical communities, with the latter group calling for regulations.

Clem and Cris are the twin heir grandchildren of the deceased queen whose throne was stolen. Rightfully, it should still belong to their family, and they believe their grandmother was falsely accused of murder and intend to set things right. Their numerous family members – their mother, her four sisters, and several cousins – are hiding secrets and holding onto grudges. Although warned to stay out of it and leave the adults to handle things, the twins nose around (we’re talking serious invasions of privacy) until they discover the truth.

The ups and downs of family dynamics are on display here – old grievances, secrets, misunderstandings, misplaced guilt. They may dislike each other, but the love is there. You just have to dig deep for it sometimes. The guilty party behind all this isn’t really a mystery. The plot is more of the reader watching the characters find the proof that’s been there all those years. With a family this large, the character roster is extensive, and several POVs are included.

The concept of generational magic is intriguing, and the cast of characters diverse. Some plot points are wrapped up by the end, but a few threads remain to carry into the sequel. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, magic and hexes, and dysfunctional (but loving in their own way) family dynamics, this may be the novel for you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

22 thoughts on “Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy

    1. Right? It’s one of my favorite settings, Jan. I think I started loving it when reading Anne Rice books (so many are set in NOLA) and then saw the actual streets and places she’d mentioned when we visited the city.

      Liked by 1 person

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