Title: Blood Heir
Author: Amelie Wen Zhao
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
You can achieve everything in this world, but if it’s for someone else, it’s pointless. Live for yourself.
Synopsis: 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.
Perhaps monsters never meant to hurt others, either. Perhaps monsters didn’t even know they were monsters.
Review: I want to start by saying that I had so much excitement going into this book. I’m the type of person that when a book gets banned, or criticized, or pulled from publication, it only makes me want to read it more. This book was no different. When this book was pulled from publication due to controversy, I only wanted to read it more. Luckily, I had an ARC!
I’ve always been a fan of Anastasia retellings, I think that her story lends itself to mystery and speculation really well (even if we now have forensic proof that she really died all those years ago). I’ve read quite a few, some good and some not, but I was very excited to find that this one was not one of the bad ones, in fact, it was quite good! It was delightfully interesting and unique. Even though it was loosely based on a story I know well, it kept me guessing until the very end.
The characters in this novel were absolutely wonderful! I’m a big fan of the Rasputin story line, and a lot of retellings like to omit that since it’s too “weird.” I really liked how Amelie twisted it though. Instead of making the Rasputin character (here, named Ramson) weirdly magical and easily identifiable as the villain, Amelie made him a companion to Ana, and delightfully redeemable!
I also really enjoyed Ana’s character arc here. I really like a strong female protagonist, and Blood Heir did not disappoint. All too often, we get women who are simpering damsels, or strong to the point that they are brittle. Very rarely do I see a female protagonist who is human, broken, made stronger by her scars, yet does not turn cruel or overbearing. Amelie hit the mark on the head here by creating a character who is not only relateable, but also someone that you can look up to and respect. She is utterly human.
Now, lets talk about that controversy. This book was pulled because a (very loud) select few thought that it apparently had an unrealistic view of slavery…because the slaves weren’t black, I guess. I think that Amelie did a wonderful job of portraying a different side of slavery: indentured servitude. This form of slavery was, in fact, very prevalent in Asian countries (as well as around the world!). I am in no way an expert on slavery, indentured servitude, Asian culture, etc. but I do like to read history books for fun. From the knowledge that I have, Amelie Wen Zhao portrayed indentured servitude correctly, and it shouldn’t have been the point of controversy that some made it out to be.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was witty, fun, original, and altogether delightful! I’m really looking forward to the next book, and I’d like it sooner rather than later pretty please!
But, in this world, life is a masquerade. Everyone wears masks.
Have you read Blood Heir? What did you think?