The Blameless, by E.S. Christison (Blog Tour)

I'm happy to be today's stop on the blog tour for The Blameless, by E.S. Christison  (Belle Isle Books, middle grade, July 22 2020) and also happy to be able to report that I enjoyed it lots, and think that it will be loved by many young readers!

Briana's world is shattered when she watches in horror as her parents, king and queen of Predonia, and her older brother, are killed in front of her eyes.  She barely escapes the castle, and flees into the city.  There she is found by three powerful men, Flinton, Derek, and Kove, who become her protectors.  They are members of the Blameless, a society of magic users, united by their commitment to using their gifts, and their very lives, unselfishly.   They take her to a stronghold of the Blameless up in the mountains, and there, surrounded by the welcoming kindness of Flinton's family, she begins to heal from her grief.

She begins as well to discover her own gifts for Blameless magic, and learns that she might be among the most powerful of the fellowship.  But the shadow of Vaylec, the evil man who has taken her kingdom and killed her family, haunts her.

Then she is kidnapped by members of the Blameless who are being magically controlled by Vaylec.  Back in the castle, a virtual prisoner, Briana tries to stretch her gifts so that she can escape, and join her protectors in defeating Vaylec.

This one hits lots of the sweet spots for middle grade readers--the plucky kid finding she's wonderfully talented at magic, a loving found family and two good friends her own age, who become companions in mischief.  There's a lovely horse, and lovely food, and then, after she's kidnapped, there's the fascinating struggle Briana goes through in the castle to outwit and escape her captor, while figuring out the limits of his strength.  The characters are all (except Vaylec, of course) endearing as all get out, and it's easy to cheer them on!

That being said, I was disappointed that the good guys seemed to falter a bit with regards to intelligent action.  Briana's three protectors, and the council of the Blameless, are very slow to take action against Vaylec and his plans, and when they do, it's almost to late.  Briana herself could have shown more brains and initiative during her captivity; why, for instance, does she not consider the possibility that she can learn the teleportation magic of one of the controlled Blameless who Vaylec has assigned to teach her to use her powers?  Why does she not summon the keys she needs (something she's capable of) to open locks, instead of wasting time and effort picking them by hand? Why does she not summon the personal property of her protectors, and return the objects again with notes on them to open a line of communication?  I was somewhat distracted by thinking of all these possibilities, and others, which never occur to her.  But I think younger readers will be more deeply immersed in the story, and less likely to question this sort of thing, and of course in Briana's defense she's a distressed kid in captivity still fairly new to magic, and I'm a much older, less distressed, armchair critic...

Despite that quibble, I found this to be a gripping and compelling story that I enjoyed lots.  It's very much a first installment--when it ends there are still unanswered questions, Vaylec is still in power, and Briana still has a way to go before mastering her magic.  I'm looking forward to the second book, because I am genuinely invested in Briana's adventures.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

About the Author, E.S. Christison

My very first job was as a scribe in a library.  I was raised by my father, and he passed a love of reading to me, especially fantasy.  I have passed this same love on to my seven children and, as a result, much of my adult life has been spent in the realms of their make-believe kingdoms, giving me firsthand experience with the whimsical workings of their young minds.  I’ve shared my own stories with them at bedtime, but never chose to write them down until an idea that I just couldn’t ignore blazed into my mind .  I live with my family in Ohio, and when I’m not busy navigating the seas of motherhood, working as a nurse, or castle-hopping and enjoying fine wine and chocolate with my husband, I can be found writing the sequel to The Blameless or dreaming up other tales.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds pretty interesting. I must admit, I would have walked right by this cover. It doesn't call middle grade to me, but that's a small quibble. Thanks for the post.


Free Blog Counter

Button styles