Bloodstone is the sequel to the acclaimed Firebrand by Gillian Philip, which I reviewed here last year alongside an interview with its simply fantastic hero, Seth MacGregor. Firebrand has shot up to become one of my favourite books, and being an impatient sort I kept nagging Gillian to find out when Bloodstone was coming out.
Imagine my delight when I received a proof copy of Bloodstone from the publishers, Strident! So here’s my completely honest review to give you an idea of what to expect when it’s released on 19th August.
Firebrand set a really high bar. The story of two Sithe (faeries, but not as Disney know ’em) half-brothers gripped me and it was always going to be hard to live up to that. Bloodstone more than meets the challenge. Seth and Conal’s story continues, 400 years on from the end of Firebrand, and new characters are introduced alongside familiar ones. In particular Finn MacAngus and the mortal Jed really make their mark here, and I clicked with them straightaway with all their flaws and strengths. Kate NicNiven, of course, is back as the charmingly deadly faerie queen and she in particular, I thought, came across even more strongly than in the first book. It took real effort for me as a reader to not be taken in by her again and again and I still don’t know if she’s as black as she’s painted…
Seth is the real star, obviously. If you read the first book you know him as a wild, damaged and passionate young man. Well, take that and imagine him with all those traits distilled and honed for 400 years. Yep. He’s mad, bad and dangerous to know in a way Byron could only dream of. Liable to go off like a crazy rocket at any time, you still can’t help falling in love with him all over again right to the end. Conal is as noble as ever although 400 years have taken their toll.
I say it again and again, but Gillian has a real knack of making a character jump off the page. Everyone is brilliantly drawn, but I can’t overlook the beautiful, crisp language and the plot, which cracks along with the occasional pause for breath and left me, literally, shaking for about an hour after I finished reading. I have to put in a personal note here – when I was at school I would read solidly for hours and a book like Bloodstone would have been finished in a couple of days. Maybe the same day if it was a weekend. I just don’t have that luxury anymore with children and husbands and such (pesky things) and a book has to be exceptionally gripping to let me switch off entirely from my surroundings. Bloodstone is one of those books.
Bloodstone will undoubtedly appeal to adults as much as teens although I think teens will identify strongly with Seth, Finn and Jed. I’d say it is much better to have read Firebrand first but I’m sure it could stand alone. I’d also like to point you to Lucy Coats’ blog at Scribble City Central where she interviews Conal.
Two questions remain: when oh when will a film production company steal the rights to this series? And is there any way Gillian can get the third book out in, ooh, say the next couple of weeks so I don’t have to wait another whole year to find out what happens?
Pre-order Bloodstone from amazon UK here.
Visit Gillian’s website here.
And Seth MacGregor is on twitter here: be warned though, he’s mine…