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Strong Vibe Check – a review of Blood of the Lily by S.D. Huston

When I was a child, I was subscribed to a kids magazine that fortnightly discussed different fairytales from various cultures through the lens of ballet icon Angelina Ballerina.

Among these tales was the one that this novel was based off of – Snow White and Rose Red. So I may have had a bias when reading this novel, along with this one:

I received a free copy of this novel in e-book format in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to S.D. Huston for providing me with one.

Sisters Lily and Rose encounter a leprechaun, only to have Rose get kidnapped by him upon their third encounter. This takes things even further out of proportion for quiet Lily, having watched her sister drown a year later only to responsible for Rose’s abduction and being unable to find a Greek tourist that visited their village. Lily uses her hunting prowess and her druidic ability to talk to land animals as her tool in the Otherworld to find where Rose has been taken. But she remains haunted by her sister’s death and fears to make that mistake again.

A fair amount of this novel was predictable, but that was a lot to do with me being familiar with the tale of Snow White and Rose Red. It wasn’t an exact replica of it, and that made it very interesting. The Irish and Greek cultures represented through a German fairytale retelling was a fantastic amalgamation of cultures which wound up pivotal to the narrative of not just this book, but the rest of the series. That left room for plot twists and elements never seen before in the interpretations of this tale. It didn’t make me mind the predictions much at all. Predictability isn’t always a hindrance for me as long as there’s still some captivating stuff and there was!

The characterisation in this novel was stellar! Both hero and villain felt severely human (even the gods) and the struggles and developments they each went through felt so unique. Lily was especially a favourite of mine. Few books I read have a lead character who is more soft spoken with agency still. Huston wrote her very well. She was by far the most relatable and the most well rounded – a clear favourite.

The way the novel was paced out worked very well too. It almost felt like another fairy tale solely from said pacing and the narrative beats. In fact, the whole vibe was very strong. The worldbuilding, the language, the characters all contributed to make a novel which very much felt like the essence of mythology. I don’t think any other novel I have read has captured this vibe, let along any, in such a great way.

However, where it falls short is the same with many YA fantasy novels that I read. Unearned romance. Rushed romance. Where two characters do in fact make a connection but not quite a strong enough once to where I would call it severe romantic and/or sexual attraction. In fact, the only relationships – even the platonic ones – I actually bought into were the ones already established, such as between Lily and Rose. The others, for the short amount of time they took place in, didn’t earn the results they got.

Even so, I can’t wait to get the paperback of this novel. And it’s sequel that came out last month. and I hear the final book in the trilogy is getting published soon too.

Blood of the Lily gets a score of 4/5. The same old story with a different kind of fairytale spin.

Yours in writing

Amy

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