Is there anything better about being a reader who is rewarded for their patience when a most anticipated novel finds its way into their hands early? The answer? No.
I have been anticipating Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier since I found it on a Goodreads 2018 YA release list late last year. Given that it sounds like a mixture between the British ‘Princes in the Tower’ cold case and a love letter to cartography who wouldn’t add it to their most anticipated lists?
I received an ARC of Isle of Blood and Stone in exchange for an honest review, via HMH Books for Young Readers. With that in mind, lets get into the review, shall we?
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Isle of Blood and Stone (Isle of Blood and Stone #1) by Makiia Lucier
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 10, 2018)
Print Length: 400 pages
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.
This book was everything I wanted and more.
While it seemed like the plot of Isle of Blood and Stone was inspired by a wide array of historical events, Lucier took what we thought we knew and made it into her own. While reading I felt like I was in a place that was a cross between Greece, Florin and Guilder, which is a compliment given that any book that gives me Princess Bride vibes is a good book in my opinion.
The pacing of Isle of Blood and Stone was also a surprising plus. Sometimes I go into first books in a series and you can tell the author, whether intentional or not, is trying to cram as much lore into the novel as possible so they can focus on character development in the sequel. While there was lore sprinkled into the narrative of Isle of Blood and Stone, it didn’t overpower the mystery that was unraveling in its pages, making me not be able to wait for the next book.
If I had to pick one thing that made this book worth reading, over all of the other positives, is Lucier’s attention to her characters. Yes the world was fleshed out, but the characters were on a whole other level. I usually don’t read YA with a male first person narrative, but I couldn’t imagine reading Isle of Blood and Stone through anyone but Elias. It was so unique to already have him as a cartography mentor that when he principles of map making came up through out the narrative I didn’t have to second guess whether or not I was being fed the truth because he was a reliable source. I also appreciated how he reacted to the various twists and turns Lucier threw his way, so much so in fact that I wasn’t disappointed with his choice of an apprentice at the book’s conclusion.
Also, Mercedes is now one of my favourite heroines. Yes, I saw her slow burning romance coming, but she wasn’t just thought up to be the romantic interest. Lucier made Mercedes interesting in her own right, apart from both Elias and Ulises, making her an emissary for the king, and a strong one at that. She generally handled her situation with grace but if she needed to be tough she became ten times tougher, even putting some of the boys exploits to shame. I cannot wait to see where she goes as a character, especially after that ending.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts for Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier. Have you been able to read one of your most anticipated releases? Let chat about it in the comments below.