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....
©2016 Claire Humphrey (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
A reviewer on Nocturnal Book Reviews since 2011. Love fantasy of any kind, contemporary fiction, kick butt heroines & antiheroes.
I think if you enjoyed dark paranormal fantasy like Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill, Trueheart by Mel Sterling and Deathless by Catherynne M Valente, you'll enjoy Spells of Blood and Kin.
Lissa's grandmother suddenly dies leaving her to continue to serve as koldunya (witch) in a small Russian enclave in Toronto. Grieving and shocky, Lissa tries her best to honor her gran who still has a tenuous link to her through a magical doll which will answer Lissa's three questions on a full moon, but there is one major problem - one of her Gran's spells died with her, and now the bearer of a violent curse is in desperate need of her help and he has already infected someone else.
Half of this book is about Lissa and her half-sister Stella trying to deal with the situation in present, but another half delves into Maksim Volkov's very long life while his sanity and self-control unravels. Maksim is Kin, a human cursed by violence (it's like werewolf without an ability to change, but with a very volatile character).
Nick, a human Maksim accidentally infected has his own plot arc, and his transformation from a normal carefree guy to someone creepy, dangerous and unhinged is disturbing to witness. The whole book is very atmospheric and spooky with accents and spell-making and its character-driven plot. It's also not flashy with magic at all. All the characters lead normal lives, everyone has jobs and magic is something very practical and uses things which are available in our society.
The narrator did a stellar job bringing Spells of Blood and Kin to life, and I enjoyed this understated dark fantasy very much. It's unusual and refreshing. Recommended.
The main character is a wet blanket and the "kin" are whiny, alcoholic hobo bros with bad tempers. Also, the scenes in which Lissa performs "egg magic" are the aural equivalent of watching paint dry.
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