Review – Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao

During March, I compiled a good set of books and vowed to read them all by month end. I can admit, sadly, that I managed to get three out of the four/five books read. One of the ones that truly brought me so much joy while reading was Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao.

Disclaimer: This is a non-spoilery review! All thoughts are my own. Book was purchased with my own money.

Here’s the cover and synopsis (courtesy of Goodreads):

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Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

Firstly, this books was a debut released November 2019 and is the first book in a trilogy. I loved every aspect of it from the cover, to the intricate world-building and diversity, to the bond between all characters. Mostly, it reminded me why I truly love that fresh and new perspective to my favourite genre that comes from debut authors.

I felt for Ana immediately. It is often very hard to have me thoroughly love and root for the main character right away. It usually does take some time for me to get to know them and their world before I become invested… Ana for me felt real and authentic. It was the trauma she must have felt and suffered, and the inability to voice her thoughts to anyone else. It’s heart-wrenching what she endures and how she handles it is both true to her character but also to the person she is working hard to being. She truly reminded me of Elsa in some moments of the book – the whole conceal don’t feel.

Quicktongue was as glorious a bad boy can be. I loved that we had his perspective told and his inner thoughts as he struggled between what he’s always known and what he’s going through now. The book opens up with us being quickly introduced to him and immediately we were off on their adventure. This was both good and bad, as I loved the action-filled quick pace, but also felt that there were moments when a slower pace could’ve built the world or given insight to Ana’s and Quicktongue’s past a bit more.

The diversity in the world was unique. It was clever and wordplay was exciting to try to figure out. It progressed the plot greatly and the tears were endless once it got to a certain part in the story. Politics also played a major role, and at times it did feel like a chapter was there to encourage more questions about the ruling system and the crown. I loved that it intertwined with the mystery aspect in the book that kept me turning the page so far into the night I forgot what time I even started reading.

The magic system was pretty standard as far as the divide between magic beings and humans go. There is an intense segregation to the point where magical beings called affinites are being taken as slaves and sold off to humans. It draws more on the political aspects of the world as well as the conflict between Ana and everyone else.

Overall, it was a good read. An excellent effort for a debut and enough to keep me wanting more of Ana and Quicktongue’s story. I was blown away by the diversity, by the level of feeling the main characters could draw from me, and by the twists and turns with each passing page. Definitely recommend anyone looking for a wonderful story by a strong female author about a strong female lead!

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