Lakewater Press was kind enough to let me read In The Blood by R. L. Martinez and I cannot rate this book enough. I loved it.
It is reminiscent of the Throne of Glass series, in a small way and is now in my top five epic fantasy reads. It tells the story of two sisters who had been separated by war and their devotion to each other. The oldest (by a minute) Ottilde is a warrior trapped as a prisoner- of – war. When she discovers her sister, Oriabel, is in danger of being discovered as a witch will go to death and back to save her. Oriabel, at her ancestral home, is no less trapped. Under constant watch of a royal envoy who have taken control of everything, she has to hide her witchbreed nature, while doing what she can for her witch hating people and going to extreme lengths to protect her sister from afar.
The twin sisters are the main characters of the story and I quite liked how they were written. They both had distinctive characters , though they fell into a sort of older- younger sister relationship despite being twins in that the older one is over protective over her slightly naïve younger sister. Another main character is Hito. He is actually an interesting character on his own. He was honourable and loyal to his country- maybe a bit too much at times- but his character does change the course of the story, becoming bitter with betrayal. I really enjoyed his mystical background and would have liked it to play a bigger role. It was good how what he was wasn’t drawn out too much to a big reveal. The reader knows pretty much as soon as he is introduced though the reaction of his love interest is downplayed when she finds out.
A good thing about the book in general is that though there is magic the plot itself is not completely reliant on it. The story is character driven and the magical background of the characters is almost secondary. It’s more about the lengths the characters would go to to protect what they love and the betrayals they face. There is one part where magic is paramount to the plot but that’s beside the point.
Another, strangely, good point about the characterisation is the antagonists of the story. They were a bit one dimensional in that the reader doesn’t get there point of view or delve deep into their motivations, but I don’t mind that. I like that that I can’t empathise with them, it makes they easier to hate. Nula, is an exception- she’s more of a minor antagonist in my mind- you know her motivations but they are so ridiculous that you can’t empathise much with her.
One part of the story I did have a bit of trouble with was about Ottilde and why she was a prisoner- of war. Trying to avoid spoilers – I understood the deed itself that led her to the prison but the circumstances around it took me a while to understand. I knew the name of the significant other in the deed but not who they were in regards to the war within the diegisis. I didn’t realize till towards the end what side they were on which still led to more questions like why both side of the war hated her for it. It benefitted one side of the war yet they did nothing to help her when they could.
Overall though I loved the story and would recommend it anyone who loves epic fantasy. I would say it leans more towards older YA lovers since a couple of the subjects areas are a bit dark, especially towards the end. It is nicely written with not too much or too little description, its more about the feel of the places, there’s diverse characters and an interesting shock twist at the end which even I didn’t see coming.
In The Blood by R. L. Martinez. Expected publication: March 21st 2016: