When reviewing books, it is perhaps inevitable that you will come across a book that you wouldn’t have bought for yourself. Sometimes, there is very good reason for this; instances that you won’t be seeing here as I won’t post reviews where I can’t give the book at least three stars on Amazon and Goodreads (I’m not a professional critic; I’m trying to do my part to draw attention to some independent books). But other times, the book simply sits in a genre that I don’t gravitate towards. And sometimes, I find myself rewarded for jumping into a genre I rarely read.
This is one such time. Blood Crescent by S.M. (or Stevie Marie) McCoy is a young adult (YA) paranormal romance. Depending on who you talk to, this genre has a less than stellar reputation, with unfavourable comparisons made to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (no, I haven’t read the books, and no, I haven’t seen the movies. I won’t be casting judgement here). But from the moment I started reading Blood Crescent, it grabbed my attention. The title of Chapter One, “Do You Want to be a Vampire,” made me smile… as did many other of the chapter titles throughout; the author has imbued these with a sparkling wit. Fun chapter titles are cool and all, but they’re not worth much if the book itself isn’t written well. This brought me to but once I moved past those six words, I was once again struck by the opening sentence:
The shoe box was covered in newspaper clippings pasted on with Elmer’s glue; we’d made it together the day I asked my father why I didn’t have a mother.
Immediately, McCoy has established her voice, and thanks to the magic of first person narration, has established the voice of the book’s protagonist, Chrystal. As I continued reading Blood Crescent, I was transported into the author’s world, and into Chrystal’s. McCoy’s prose enchanted me, and within four sentences, I was highlighting passages as potentials to include at the bottom of my review (if you’re new to my reviews, or just find yourself so bored by them that you’ve never reached the bottom, I include my favourite passage).
At 276 pages in paperback (or an estimated 238 swipes on your eReader, or, if you prefer to listen, ten hours and thirty-eight minutes), Blood Crescent makes for a fairly swift read. It’s long enough to tell the story, and do so well, without overstaying its welcome. It also seems like a good length for the target audience, but at well over double the 15-18 age range listed on Amazon, I can’t completely say. The story McCoy is telling is the first entry into the Divine Series, which not only builds the world nicely, it also tells a rollicking story. And with more books to come, the story still feels complete, which is always a plus for me.
Blood Crescent’s plot builds slowly, taking the time to draw the reader in. It never feels as though the pace is too slow; instead, it uses this pace to lay out the plot. The plot itself is complex which was a pleasant surprise, given its tone and style. As it twisted and turned, it managed to surprise me, rather than falling into predictability.
With a complex plot and plenty of world building, you can expect a number of characters. These characters are fleshed out nicely, and contribute to the Divine world in entertaining fashion. I can’t say that I particularly relate to the sixteen-year-old Chrystal, but between her character beats and narration, she was an absolute delight; thoroughly entertaining. Supporting characters range from fun to mysterious, and in many cases both at the same time. Nobody in the book is written as perfect, adding some believability to the story.
Not only are these characters fleshed out and believable, the dialogue throughout is strong; feeling natural, regardless of whether the character is a sixteen-year-old, a vampire, a shifter, or a Great Moon Dragon (a particular delight throughout the book). All this helped me suspend my disbelief, which I appreciate, given the concepts throughout the book.
Yes, this is a paranormal story, with a focus on romance. Yes, it is an urban fantasy. It is also a story that plays with the protagonist’s grip on reality, as she can see into different realms. Add in a search for a mystical artefact, as well as a dose of mystery as to what, exactly, Chrystal is (is she a vampire, or something else?), it’s a lot for the reader to chew on. If this sounds confusing to you, imagine how it must feel for Chrystal. Throughout, McCoy makes you feel Chrystal’s confusion, and experience it for yourself.
However, while McCoy did an expert job of creating this fantastical world, helping the reader suspend their disbelief, I was disappointed with the number of typos in the book. None of the twists and turns distracted me from the story or the characters, but the spelling errors, lack of capitalisation and incorrect punctuation at points did. If you look at the back cover posted above (which I hope has since been updated), the blurb misspells “surviving” (“surving”) and “Chrystal” (“Crystal”). Though not as concentrated as this example, I feel Blood Crescent would have greatly benefitted from an extra round of proofreading.
Proofreading issues aside, S.M. McCoy’s Blood Crescent is an excellent read. If you’re not a fan of YA fantasy, it might not be a book for you. But if you’re a fan of the genre, or enjoy intriguing fantasy stories, you will find a thoroughly enjoyable story, that stands alone, but will still whet your appetite for more tales in the Divine Series.
All the colors in the air, like puffs of powdered smoke intermingling, the energy dancing around. Suddenly, I was hallucinating again. I could see a dark blue aura drifting off my skin like flames, light fading, see-through flames. The color was so faint compared to the vivid orange burst, condensed to a solid outline along his shoulders, jutting out like thorns. The wisps of color coming off my arms as they wrapped around his neck dissipated into the air around us, hollow, and empty. It was my energy, fading, and the cure was in his hands. Damien unwrapped my arm from his neck carefully, and placed the pill in my palm, closing my fingers around it.Blood Crescent, Chapter Eleven: “Serpents”
Blood Crescent was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Blood Crescent is available in paperback and eBook from retailers, including—but not limited to—Amazon, and audiobook via Audible.
You can follow S.M. McCoy online, via:
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