Review: A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Title: A River of Royal Blood

Author: Amanda Joy

Publication Date: October 29th, 2019

Publisher: Putnam

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: YA

Queens ruled in Myre and killed for the right to do so.

A River of Royal Blood follows Princess Eva as she grapples with the magick of blood and marrow that runs through her veins, magick that has a dark history of its own. The last person to wield blood magick was Queen Raina, who used it to kill her sister on her way to the Ivory Throne, consequently starting the Rival Heir tradition. Five generations later, Eva must face her sister in a battle to the death, despite her mother’s favor of Isa, and her fear of her own power.

An attempt on Eva’s life sparks her first (accidental) use of her power since she was a child, and forces her to turn to Baccha, an immortal fey who worked for Raina, and happens to know the secrets to blood magick. As she learns more about her magick, there are more assassination attempts and Eva figures that it’s not just Isa out to get her; family secrets have gotten out, and with Eva being one of the last to know, it could cost her life.

Amanda Joy masterfully weaves together magick and its role in Eva’s journey of self-discovery, and it had my heart racing the entire time. One of the major themes that struck me over and over again was that Eva is so reluctant to become a murderer like the Queens before her, none like Queen Raina who is one of the only people to share her magick, and this blood magick only seems to make killing easier. The irony creates a fascinating contrast that begs the question: is our destiny written for us?

The truth is, we all have the capacity to do terrible things. But we so often forget that that same capacity can allow equally wonderful things, if we will it. One of the reasons I loved Eva so much is that the entire time, she’s fighting her magick because she believes that it controls her nature, but as the people around her are constantly trying to teach her, it doesn’t control her nature, it reflects it. Just because her magick is tied to a ruthless ruler does not mean that they are one and the same.

Another swoon-worthy character is khimaer prince, Aketo. As he supports Eva — both physically and emotionally — he helps her come to terms with her “monstrous” powers as he tells the story of his own. For centuries, the khimaer have been a race of people so hated that they are forced into Enclosures, which is both ironic and heartbreaking once you get to know Aketo. His story provides a fantasy- based commentary on racism, and has an even more powerful effect written by a Black, bisexual author.

Overall, A River of Royal Blood is a celebration of the strength and power of women and is refreshing in the world of YA literature. While it moves quite quickly, it has easily earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Power has always inspired fear.

But it doesn’t have to. Your power, your control.

Links for A River of Royal Blood:

Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

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