We Are Blood And Thunder

Bloomsbury. Mar. 2020. 448p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781547603053.
Gr 8 Up–Furyborn meets Give the Dark My Love in this debut about a quarantined city plagued by immovable storms and pestilence. The birthmark on Lena’s face is considered a disfigurement conspicuous enough to have destined her to life as a “cryptling,” exiled forever to live in the city crypts alongside people with disabilities...until she is convicted of magecraft and sentenced to death by dog, which she barely escapes before running into Constance. Constance is the duke’s daughter, returning after years in exile where she’s honed her magecraft, to reclaim her place as heir. However, in her absence, the Justice seized power from the dukedom and is attempting to purge magic from the city to quell the storm. The Justice makes for a one-dimensional villain, but his megalomania adds more immediate stakes to Constance’s plot than the ever-present storm. Beyond the city, Lena finds herself thrown headfirst into a world of gods and magic, and struggles to find her identity beyond her status as a “cryptling.” The novel’s world-building, particularly in the quarantined city, is deeply rooted in ableism—a topic not handled with any particular deftness or care. The cast of characters has a range of skin tones and one gay character is briefly mentioned, but they don’t develop to support the plot. Lupo’s simplistic writing style could lend itself to striving readers, but the deep paragraphs of exposition lack narrative voice.
VERDICT With ableist world-building and underdeveloped characters, this novel is not recommended for general purchase.

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