“Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side—whether he wants her there or not—Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.” (via Goodreads)
Makiia Lucier’s tale is quieter than I think most people might expect, given the description on the back of the book. There’s a quest, but most of the plot takes place on two islands. Characters do battle with wicked men and vengeful ghosts, but the story isn’t action-packed. Personally, I loved it. Lucier’s light touch never felt boring or glacial. Instead, she gradually unfolds her tale in a way that keeps the reader entertained and eager for the next chapter. Isle of Blood and Stone is both light and dark simultaneously, a delicate balance that Lucier effortlessly pulls off.
And as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, it’s the characters that really make the story soar. Elias, Mercedes, Ulises and Reyna are utterly delightful and compelling. Lucier is great at crafting characters with individual and complex personalities. Each one shines as a believable person with a rich interior life. They feel like they exist beyond the text on the page…
To read the rest of my review of Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier, head over to Tor.com.
All of them bowed, that is, except one.
The courtyard was surrounded by an arcade three stories high. An old woman stood just inside the ground level, partially concealed by the crimson bougainvillea cascading off an upper balcony. As Mercedes rode past, the woman spat, missing the horse’s rear hooves by a hands width.
Anger tightened his stomach. A quick glance at Mercedes dashed any hope that she had not seen what happened. She stared straight ahead, her face composed. But her shoulders had stiffened, and her chin had lifted up, up in that way he recognized. This he had not missed. He nudged Pythagoras forward until he had placed himself between Mercedes and the old woman. He did not know her. She was dressed as a tradeswoman.
Old enough to have remembered that day eighteen years ago. Bitter enough to blame Mercedes for it though she had still been in her mother’s womb. He said nothing, only watched and waited and wished it were a man standing there by the bougainvillea. One did not have to be so polite with a man.
Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcout for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or borrow it from your public library.