Review Highlights:

Genre: Fantasy

Age: 17+

Recommendation: It was just OK, not terrible but also nothing really stood out. Based off my personal experience reading it and the current pricing listed on Amazon, I would consider skipping this one.

Type: Stand Alone

Pages: 320

Summary: – slow-moving – minimal world building – mediocre and detached heroine + interesting take on Russian folklore – mildly confusing POV switches – one-dimensional characters -confusing plot +nice emphasis on family


Where we love, we ruin…

Some families hand down wealth through generations; some hand down wisdom. Some families, whether they want to or not, hand down the secret burdens they carry and the dangerous debts they owe.

Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother leaves her a big, empty house, and a legacy of magic: folk magic, old magic, brought with Baba when she fled the Gulag. In the wake of her passing, the Russian community of Toronto will depend on Lissa now, to give them their remedies and be their koldun’ia. But Lissa hasn’t had time to learn everything Baba wanted to teach her—let alone the things Baba kept hidden.

Maksim Volkov’s birth family is long dead, anything they bestowed on him long turned to dust. What Maksim carries now is a legacy of violence, and he does not have to die to pass it on. When Maksim feels his protective spell fail, he returns to the witch he rescued from the Gulag, only to find his spell has died along with the one who cast it. Without the spell, it is only a matter of time before Maksim’s violent nature slips its leash and he infects someone else—if he hasn’t done so already.

Nick Kaisaris is just a normal dude who likes to party. He doesn’t worry about family drama. He doesn’t have any secrets. All he wants is for things to stay like they are right now, tonight: Nick and his best buddy Jonathan, out on the town. Only Nick is on a collision course with Maksim Volkov, and what he takes away from this night is going to crack open Nick’s nature until all of his worst self comes to light.

Lissa’s legacy of magic might hold the key to Maksim’s salvation, if she can unravel it in time. But it’s a legacy that comes at a price. And Maksim might not want to be saved

Full Review:

Spells of Blood and Kin is an up and coming dark fantasy written by Claire Humphrey that promises magic and mystery. The problem I had with it is that it doesn’t feel “magical” at all. The book itself starts out with the death of Lissa’s grandmother and it is perhaps one of the oddest opening scenes I have ever read. Detatched and confusing, the way that Lissa is described as reacting to the death of her closest family member is unrealistic. It is almost like she had no emotional reaction at all. As the reader, I didn’t feel anything during this supposed oober important turning point in our heroine’s life and that doesn’t really sit well with me. I want to feel something when I spend the time to read a book.

The characters in this story, with the exception of Maksim, are pretty one-dimensional and devoid of any real depth. I did however find Maksim to be very interesting and more complex than Lissa’s character. I liked that he was built as some sort of a supernatural rage machine but the author never really reveals what exactly he is. Described as “kin” throughout the length of the book, Maksim is a self loathing, hate and violence fueled eternal warrior that has to stay drunk or asleep to control his urge to destroy things. I tried to see if there is any connection to popular folklore and “kin” and came up empty. This story is told from multiple point of view’s, including his, and the switch back and forth muddles the plot slightly. Especially when it is going back in time, it borders on confusing during those chapters. The first half of the book moves so slowly, it took actual effort for me to finish it. I just kept reminding myself that it would get better in the end. I mean it usually does right? I was more enthusiastic closer to the end but I still remained partially distracted.

I found the plot to be an interesting but the book just didn’t hit the spot. The ideas behind it could really be further developed and turned into something really wicked. One aspect of this book that is nice is the underlying tiers of family that are woven into the background. You get to see the relationship between blood relatives, created bonds and friendships and how nothing defines family but the feelings you have toward one another.

Final Thoughts:

Don’t see myself reading this again and I wouldn’t purchase it for anyone as a gift.

On Amazon: Spells of Blood and Kin

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.