This is a companion book to Gratton's Blood Magic. It loosely picks up where Blood Magic leaves off, but focuses on different cast of characters, and has a different setting. I enjoyed Blood Magic, but with The Blood Keeper, Gratton turned her Blood Journals series into a must-read for me.
I almost didn't pick up this book because Blood Magic didn't bowl me over. But, I was looking for a book set in Kansas for my Read Across America challenge, it looked promising, and I already owned it on a book club account that I share with some friends.
The book opens with the main character, Mab, doing a spell in the garden, creating a homunculus which escapes from her and goes on a rampage. It is finally killed by Will, a local young man who is not capable of magic.
Gratton delved deep into the backstory in this installment, fleshing out the Prowd family, and their history, both good and bad. Mab Prowd is the daughter of Josephine, who was the villain of the first book. Map is neither wholly good nor wholly evil, with a tendency to jump to conclusions and act without reflection. This impulsivity constantly gets her into trouble. Mab presides over the blood lands as Deacon, having inherited the title from her mentor, Arthur.
Will, on the other hand, is dealing with issues of his own. He comes from a military family, and is struggling with finding his own future, and is grieving the death of an older brother. He is a bit perplexed by his attraction to Mab, who is completely dissimilar to the girls that he knows - homeschooled, more than a little bit odd.
The story unfolds at a leisurely pace that drags a bit from time to time. There are really two different narratives, the first is Mab and Will's story, but, interspersed with the modern narrative are diary entries from the woman who represents Mab's grandmother, Lyn, which tells a long hidden story about Lyn, Arthur, and a man named Gabriel.
A warning - the magic in this series resides in the blood of the practitioners. So, both books are bloody. All of the spells involve the use of blood, and there is pricking, slicing and cutting to spare. We drown, to some extent, in the magical blood of the characters. If you have a blood phobia, you should stay far, far away.
I don't know if Gratton plans a third book in the Blood Journals, but if she does, I will definitely read it.
This book qualifies as Kansas for the Read Across America challenge.