BBNYA Blog Tour: Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire

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Today I bring you my book review of BLOODLACED by Courtney Maguire. BLOODLACED placed 9th in the final round of the 2022 Book Bloggers Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA).

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 15 finalists and one overall winner.  If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or Twitter @bbnya_official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

Author: Courtney Maguire
Genre: Paranormal
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: City Owl Press
Publish Date: 29 September 2020
Print Length: 314
Link: Amazon and Goodreads

Official Synopsis

Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.

Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.

In the wake of his failure to protect a boy they saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.

Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save their life.

Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.

The blood of the innocent.

Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy they failed to protect, now a man, reappears.

New master, same threat.

With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what they loves most.

Content Warnings: physical abuse, sexual abuse (off-page), self-harm, blood, graphic violence

If you like Bella Forrest, P. C. Cast, AJ Tipton, or Anne Rice, you will love this beautiful dark paranormal fantasy romance.

My Review

Thank you to The Write Reads, the author, and the publisher for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read with LGBTQ+ representation. However, it is the first book I’ve read that specifically features a character who consciously identifies as both a man and a woman rather than a character who, due to a variety of circumstances, identifies as a gender other than the one assigned at birth. I appreciated that the author didn’t shy away from illustrating Asagi’s discomfort when other characters inappropriately asked about Asagi’s gender. As this is a focal point of the story, it helps the reader feel empathy for Asagi.

This story also contains some difficult topics, such as sexual abuse (off page) and enslavement. The abuse serves as part of Asagi’s back story as well as a turn of events near the beginning, so it’s not present simply “just because.” Unfortunately, these types of individuals are present in society and to make them invisible is akin to ignoring those who suffer their abuse. I think it also serves to show what cruelties people endure during enslavement, as if enslavement wasn’t cruel enough.

When Asagi finds themself sold to Mahiro, Asagi has to learn how to trust, how to live again without omnipresent fear. Mahiro serves as a foil to Asagi’s previous masters and is kind, generous, and caring. But as the synopsis covers, events unfold that reveal Mahiro’s true physical nature. He is a youkai, reminiscent of a western culture vampire, who turns Asagi to save them. But over the years Asagi finds this style of living feels like another form of enslavement and seeks their own identity free of strings.

For a relatively fast-paced read, I thought Maguire’s writing style portrayed Asagi’s fears, tension, and love quite nicely. I could connect with the characters and understand their actions. However, I expected the story to contain more of a fantasy adventure based on the presence of youkai. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt and made me wonder what the larger point of the story was. Perhaps this was intentional to provoke reflection on how precious time spent with loved ones is. Or the unexpectedness of life.

So, rather than a youkai-filled fantasy read, BLOODLACED ventures more into the realm of literary fiction with fantasy elements. Those who seek stories about identity and finding home will appreciate the journey herein.

Author Bio

Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.

4 thoughts on “BBNYA Blog Tour: Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire

    1. Wonderful! It’s also on the shorter side as far as full-length novels go, which is always nice when you’re not in the mood for a chonker.

  1. While this doesn’t necessarily sound like the first book I’d pick up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review. The story itself seems really fascinating and I think it’s so interesting how the author melded fantasy into more speculative fiction.

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