The Heart Blade will rise in light, or in darkness.
Teenage half-demon Del Raven wears a promise in scarred letters upon her skin. Now, pressured to make her first kill and seal her demon nature forever, she flees her pack and forges a dangerous partnership with young angel-blood Ash.
But Del isn't the only one on the run from the demons. For seventeen years the Guild of Saint Peter has done its best to hide orphan Rose, a key player in the centuries-old Heart Blade prophecy.
The threads tangle, and soon Del, Ash and Rose find themselves in the crosshairs of an ancient war between demons and angels... and the hunt for a mythical weapon that could change the balance of power forever.
Anglo-Brazilian author Juliana Spink Mills was born in London but grew up in São Paulo. Now they live in Connecticut, where they write speculative fiction and have a soft spot for making their characters suffer. Juliana’s stories have appeared in several anthologies, including the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Not All Monsters. Besides writing, Juliana works as a Portuguese/English translator and as a library assistant. You can find them online at jspinkmills.com.
4.5-stars. This one ticks many of the boxes required to be a good read. It's been properly edited which also makes for a more enjoyable read.
This is vampires and werewolves and other supernatural incarnations battling for supremacy. I was put in mind of a cross between The Lost Boys and The Twilight Saga with a bit of King Arthur thrown in for good measure.
Short but sweet review as I'm none too well. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. I hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas.
I read this as an ARC, and didn't take long about it. It's a very tightly and twistingly plotted, well-written story, packed full of tension, intrigue and action, with teenage characters you can get behind and who aren't hormoaning all the time or getting into pointless love-triangle diversions to spice things up. In fact, everything in the book seems to fall cleanly and naturally out of the starting conditions, which is that there are various types of "preternaturals" living in human society, hidden in plain sight, prevented from open warfare by a Covenant that is fraying badly; and a newly "turned" half-demon who decides to go on the run, at great risk to her life, because she refuses to make the kill that will make her a full member of her pack.
The various types of preternaturals -- demons, sentinels (descended from angels, according to their own lore), vampires, witches etc -- are extremely well set up. Some breed true, some recruit from the human population, some are immortal, some not. The manner in which demons recruit allows for a lot of character intrigue, as well as being particularly unpleasant (relatively so -- there's no real gore in this, yet neither is there a feeling of punches being pulled). Most types have their own clan structure, too, and various political shenanigans are hinted at both within and between these groups, giving the preternatural world a richness and solidity.
Mills doesn't waste much time trying to justify the existence of these creatures -- you just suspend any disbelief and get on with it -- and since most of the characters themselves belong to the various groups, there's no getting bogged down in an ordinary human finding out and learning about them. Everything we need to know is worked efficiently into the story, which is allowed to get on at a cracking pace. Many of these creatures seem young but are actually very old, but the three main characters are all about seventeen, and come across as realistically so without being annoying. In fact they're very engaging, and I managed to get grit in my eye a couple of times. What particularly impressed me, though, were the realistic and rounded adult characters, the parents, guardians and gas-station clerks. Though Mills has written a YA story here, it feels like she could also do adult drama without any difficulty.
In short, even if you think YA might not be your thing, but you're at all into fantasy, this could be for you. It doesn't put a foot wrong.
I got this as an arc - and must confess I didn't expect to be blown away, but hoped for a pretty decent read.
I was very pleasantly surprised! It is a really engaging story, that had me hooked right from the start. I read it in two evenings, and hardly put it down.
Of course it did have some small flaws - but they really were just minor ones, and quite common in YA, so I round my 4,5* up to 5. Said flaws were two tiny details that weren't quite right that I noticed in a characters description, and then the typical teenage behaviour in a dangerous situation that makes you do a facepalm. But as I can imagine quite some of the teenagers I know to really react that senseless, it is more something that annoys me as a logical thinking person, than an actual flaw.
So now that we got the bad things out of the way - here comes the good parts!
Things I especially enjoyed: 1) Bit of a light romance but NO love triangle 2) Divers characters, some topics being included without being a big deal/moral signpost, but just a natural part of the story 3) A good mix of all the different magical races (witches, vampires, werewolves, ...) 4) The girl being the demon, and the boy a (mostly normal) human 5) Kickass female characters, but not cold hearted assassins 6) Really fluent prose one can devour without noticing one is actually reading 7) Little symbols at the start of each chapter representing who it is about 8) Some nice plot twists 9) Normal, relatable characters! Not supermodels with inhuman strength, who can do no wrong... 10) While it is a rather typical YA book, it still did feel different and refreshingly new. I actually liked it best of all the "girly" YA I have read in the last two years. It manages to have the usual topics, but to change them just enough to not feel like repeat X of the ever same story.
It does have some stronger language, and while there is no actual sex, there is a joke or two with innuendo. For a normal 14 year old it is absolutely ok, but if one is still rather childlike, or is very sensitive to such topics, you might want to wait a bit longer to read this one.
If you have a teenager in your house you want to give a book to - or if you like me like to read a good YA book yourself now and then, I can really recommend this debut novel!
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Heart Blade, so was able read it just prior to release. I am very thankful for that privilege, as the book was much, much more than I expected. Heart Blade does not read like a debut novel, but rather the work of someone who’s honed their skills for a while.
The story follows three people. Rose is in the care of a religious order; she is being hunted due to an ancient prophecy, and is whisked away by her mysterious godfather when a preternatural mercenary breaks in to the abbey. Del is in the process of being unwillingly turned into a demon, while struggling to understand dreamlike remembrances of a former life; unwilling to take the final step and kill, she goes on the run. Ash is, literally, on the side of the angels, but is unhappy with all the rules that entails, especially as they are enforced by his father. Against them is a pack of demons, and an ancient set of laws known as the Covenant, which could mean they’re now fair game to any preternatural in town - demons, witches, vampires, and more.
The story rips along at a fast pace. There is a fair bit of threat and menace and a minor bit of gore, giving it a dark feel, but it’s never overbearing or nasty, and there is a good balance, with hope always being present in some form. Add to that well-written characters who drive the novel through conflict, friendship, and even a burgeoning attraction, and the result held my attention all the way.
There were a couple of minor flaws. I thought the character of Jordan could have been developed more, although he (like the other characters) did ring true to life. And, the ending could have been rounded out. However, as it set the stage for future books, it works pretty well, so I’ll not complain too much. These issues (if they even are issues) make no difference in my fully recommending Heart Blade to anyone who likes a good story, YA or not. My only suggestion is don’t read it at night - it’s difficult to put down, and leaves you deprived of sleep the next morning!
A very secure 9/10. I will be buying Juliana Spink Mill’s next book without any hesitation.
Urban Fantasy isn't normally my bag, and YA UF is definitely out of my comfort zone. But this debut from Juliana Spink Mills, published by Woodbridge Press, is actually a very good YA UF for anybody who wants a more modern take on the shapechanger and vampires mythos than Buffy and Twilight have had to offer.
Refreshingly, both Del and Rose, the half-demon central characters, are independently motivated and not in romantic thrall to some immortal plank of wood. There *are* immortals, but they are presented with some depth (and in some unlikely-seeming partnerships, fleshing out their personalities further along the way). There's a lot of action too, rather than constant emotional angsting. Spink Mills knows when to dial up the torture though, with writing that recalls Jo Zebedee's ability to brutalize her characters.
The worldbuilding starts off being a bit confusing, and there's obviously a lot to explain, to lay out the groundwork, and that does slow the pace at the start of the book as we struggle to get to know Del. But by the end, with new dynamics in place, Spink Mills has shown that she can both finish a story and set up a sequel - and make me want to read it too.
Heart Blade was a really fun book to read! The premise is really strong, the plot flows well, the characters are interesting, complex and engaging and most importantly, the ending was incredible! Plus, Arthurian Legend references FTW always and forever (Merlin fans unite!!).
I'm going to start with the characters first. I loved reading about them and their emotional journeys, but (yes, unfortunately) this book did have one of my ultimate pet peeves and that is *drum roll* constantly changing multiple POV's!!!! *throws confetti* I really, really, really dislike multiple changing POV's, particularly in the first book and especially when random side characters get moments because I'm still grappling with the main cast and it just throws me out of the whole atmosphere of the plot. I liked the main cast - Del, Ash, Camille, Alex (should have been more of his chapters in my opinion!) and Rose (she missed out a little too, now that I think about it). They were great, especially the character arcs for Del, Ash and Camille, which were explored really well, and Rose had a fantastic arc too, but she was a little more on the backburner. This leads into my next point...
The plot. Overall, very engaging and fun to read. The world of Heart Blade really gave me The Mortal Instruments vibes (they aren't the same, just one of those if you like this, then you'll like that circumstances... or maybe I've binge watched too much Shadowhunters?) though Heart Blade does feature multiple supernatural beings, an overriding law/ government body and then angel hunters to keep the peace. The first half of the book did leave me confused at times because: a) The information about the world thrown at me that I had to understand immediately and ended up with me being confused, although once the mythology was set-up, it was very well-formed and explained and... b) The CONSTANTLY CHANGING POV's!!!!!!! Since I couldn't get a grasp, and therefore a foundation, with one or two of the characters, because by the time I was getting their voice some else's chapter had started, the start felt jarring, as I kept on being thrown out of the world.
Once I got past the halfway point, I knew all my characters, and the story hit its stride, heading towards an absolutely fantastic conclusion, I was fine and loving every moment, unable to tear myself away from the book, but yeah, the start is tough going to pick up all the lingo of the world/characters, so just a heads up!
That all being said, I have to give the author a round of applause because even though she delves into several POV's, every single character is distinct and had a wonderfully unique voice. I didn't feel like I was reading the same person over and over, and as I got to know them, I liked reading multiple character's stories, so I never got bored, but yeah, it is just a pet peeve of mine.
The little touches of romance were sweet and worked for me! I'm curious about what might happen between certain characters in the future. Also, the ending was absolutely brilliant, as when I turned the last page I thought "Wut? That's it?" and felt sad that the journey was over for now. There is so much left as mystery and intrigue and that just makes me want to find out even more in future books.
So, will I be reading on? 100% yes! Would I recommend Heart Blade? Absolutely! Especially for The Mortal Instruments fans and with the mindset that this has multiple POV's, so what are you waiting for? Another fantastic read awaits! (Side note: isn't the cover gorgeous!!! *heart eyes*)
This book was full of twists and turns from the minute I picked it up. I marveled at the author's ability to navigate a number of plot lines seamlessly and was completely surprised by the ending. The characters were well-developed and the relationships were nicely fleshed out. I am so excited to see where these characters go in book two. Well done, Juliana Spink Mills! I just ordered three more copies as gifts!!
Demons. Angels. Vampires…Yes, please. Debut Author Juliana Spink Mills knows how to ramp up the tension. She created a secret world within our own with solid world building. I loved all the characters and at the end, there’s a twist…You’ll never guess it. Plus there’s some kissing, so of course, I was hooked. Buy your copy today and then add reviews everywhere because you’re going to want Mills to keep writing. I know I do!
I don't usualy read YA novels, but this came highly reccomended, and rightly so. Great storytelling, well developed world and fully fledged characters make this a really great read. If you like urban fantasy, supernatural, or even light horror, you will enjoy this. The Heart Blade has risen indeed.
There is the old adage about not judging a book by the cover, and this is one of those novels where I did just that. I am not one for reading the blurb on the back, feeling that it sometimes can give away something of the story I am about to read. So I settled down to read Heart Blade expecting it to be something totally different to what it was, for some reason, but this was not a bad thing, because I probably enjoyed it more because of it.
In some ways the story is reminiscent of the set up for a YA novel, the main cast are all young, supplemented with a few ‘adult’ characters – I use the inverted commas, because adult does not begin to do them justice, some of them are centuries old. Del is a teenage girl, Ash is a teenage boy, coming from opposing factions, impossible to be together but have that attraction anyway, parents never going to approve...
But the author manages, as all the good ones do, to put her own spin on the common tropes and to invest the characters with enough of their own personalities to make it work and work well.
Del is a half-demon, Ash an Angel Blood, both feel constricted by the rules that govern their society and Del particularly wants out. She resents being turned from human to demon, and all that means, including the loss of her memories. She has reached the point of her transformation where she must cement her place as a member of the pack run by one of the most powerful demons in the area, Raven. To do this she must take a life, and not wanting to do so puts her on the run.
There is a third character, Rose. She is being protected by a neutral group, who want only to keep her safe. She is, however, considered to be the recipient of the Heart Blade, a near mythical weapon that can bring (in simple terms) good or evil. And everyone wants her and are willing to play dirty to get her.
It sets up a three pronged story, with a few other interesting characters added to the mix, as the majority of characters are after Rose, while one or two are trying to track down Del.
The story is told deftly, and with some perfect set pieces that keep the adrenaline flowing nicely for the reader. It is not over the top action, allowing for some interesting characters, their development and some interesting world building.
Points of interest include the supernatural elements are not all equal; some seem to be dying out, while despite the laws and agreements in place some are more than willing to twist the rules to the edge of breaking to get what they want. This leads to a level of feuding, animosity and half paid grudges, all that add fire to the flames.
One of the most important ideas, are the soul blades – weapons that are used mostly by the demons, forged from their discarded mortal souls and drawn from their hearts rather than a sheath.
There are some lovely twists and turns throughout, with a couple of really big ‘wrongfooters’ that do what they are meant to do, are logical and not just for shock. The fact that I got annoyed with the characters is another sure sign the Mills is telling a story that works, if you did not care for, or hate characters then there would be something wrong.
Finally, the book finishes with a twist that is so delicious that it makes it all the more special, and as with all good twists it is so logical in hindsight that you want to say that you always saw it coming.
I won a signed copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review, and here it is:
This book was good! :D
I mean, I'm honestly not all that into the genre (the hide-and-seek, running-for-your-life, changing cars and disposing of cell-phones genre) so I can't really give it a proper analysis in that regard. But I CAN say that it kept my interest! I cared about what was happening! I cared about the battles and politics and stuff (even though I usually don't care about battles and politics)! And I think I can say with all honesty that if I ever get the chance to buy the sequel, I will~
So, yeah, good book! I look forward to the next one! :D
I really liked this book and I think anyone with a taste for the paranormal (and even some who don't) would like it as well! ;) For a full review, follow the link: https://suereadingcorner.wordpress.co...
HEART BLADE marks the debut of YA Fantasy author Juliana Spink Mills who writes with the confidence usually only exhibited by authors who already have an acclaimed series or two out. Her prose is clean and her storytelling is deft, combining to create an engaging and well-paced read.
At first glance, one might mistake HEART BLADE for yet another Urban Fantasy YA series packed with vampires, werewolves, witches and all the usual suspects. However, Mills puts her own stamp on these well-worn figures and tropes, lifting it a cut above the rest with tightly-interwoven storylines, fast-paced action sequences, and delightful touches of humour here and there.
For me, one way of determining whether an Urban Fantasy YA book has reached the gold standard of being worthy of many re-reads are the characters... and Mills delivers a cast of memorable characters, one of whom (Alex, a badass vampire knight) is destined to become many readers' future Book Boyfriend.
If you like Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Josephine Angelini, and Susan Dennard's stories and books, you'll like HEART BLADE. And you'll get addicted to it.
Blade Heart is cast with demons and angels, vampires and witches. It’s perfect for aficionados of epic fantasy.
Blade Heart is the story of Rose, the victim of an assassination attempt at the start of the story. Rose is key to prophesied Heart Blade, a mythical weapon that could change the balance of power forever. It’s also the story of Del Raven, a half-demon fighting for freedom from her liege lord and against her destiny to kill mortals.
The time of the prophesied Blade Heart draws near, and every faction of the preternatural world has a stake in who controls the weapon. Some align to protect it; others want to capture it and use it for their own ends. Two sides of an epic battle take shape.
Debut author, Juliana Spink Mills, has tackled an ambitious story with seven point of view characters (!), tons of fantasy world building and intense clashes. Readers will need to stay on their toes to keep up with this action-packed story.
I was given a free advanced reader copy of Blade Heart for an honest review.
This is the review of a YA Urban Fantasy by someone who doesn't really want YA. Or that much Urban Fantasy either. As such, I am somewhat unsure about this description, but Heart Blade seems to be very archetypal of both.
It is the tale of a half-demon named Del. In Heart Blade's universe, half-demons have some pretty heavy amnesia about their life before becoming a demon, and only truly come into their heritage after killing. For the former, Del only has a scar gouged into her arm; it says Never. As to the latter, it is Del's time to seal the deal.
The story follows Del up into Hartford as she tries to find the Guild of St Peters, a body protecting mistreated preternaturals, and a separate arc at said guild, both connected by the machinations of the same demon. There's also at least one nascent romance, a prophecy, an outdated and brutal code of conduct left over from the Middles Ages, one ancient and legendary vampire, at least six types of preternatural, one parent-child clash, three coming of age arcs and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, and a super hacker. The only thing missing, by my understand, are the katanas and the mirror shades.
Spink-Mills plays these story elements with straight-forwards enthusiasm. If you agree with her there's still interesting stories to be told with these elements, then you're in the right place. If you don't, I'm surprised you even read this far.
In any case, this is an interesting story. The characters and prose are engaging, the supernatural conceits don't fall apart the moment you look at them, and the number of times you want to scream at clumsy exposition/romance is very minimal. The two main plot strands are well-paced, suitably tense, and come together at the end nicely. These might seem like somewhat qualified statements and they are. I don't want to give anyone the impression that this book is the next great classic of its type. Its not - but it is actively good.
Where Heart Blade truly shines though is with its secondary characters, particularly the older ones. Their emotions and motivations are more confused than the youngsters yet no less strong. Not only does that nicely backlight the way youth can get monofocused, it also captures some intriguing individuals. My favourites are the demons linked to Del, but there's a good turn from the Guild cast too. Even the forbidding strict father-figure of the book comes off as likable, human, rational and cool, which is some trick. I'd argue he probably gets most of the book's best moments, along with aforementioned ancient and legendary vampire.
There are a few moments where the book falls down for me at least. There were times where I disagree with the author's logic and found myself irked by the characters' actions. It is hard to go into this without giving away spoilers though. I also found the start unnecessarily slow thanks to a seemingly little related prologue. Those are relatively minor quibbles though. More major were the well worn archetypes of the genre, which sometimes got very stereotypical. I am far from prickly when it comes to using a lot of genre conventions straight, but Heart Blade sails a bit close to the wind and it feels like the only true point of difference is Spink-Mills' voice and characters.
Fortunately, that is enough. And while I felt a little jaded in the opening third of the book, as it gathered pace I felt myself less and less bothered by the similarities to teenage World of Darkness campaigns and more with what was going to happen next. Particularly when the secondary characters got more of the spotlight.
All in all, Heart Blade is an enjoyable read, one that might not move the world but does allow you to forget it for a few hours. I look forwards to seeing where Juliana Spink-Mills goes with the series next.
A great story, with even better characters to carry me along through it. Del is a half-demon, feeding off of sorrow and refusing to pledge to her clan and become a full demon. In her search for Sanctuary she encounters Ash, a descendant of angels in training to be a sentinel, an enforcer of the laws of the Covenant. Del's violation of those laws gives Ash the courage to defy his father to protect her. Together they set off into the world in search of the Guild, which will protect Del from her Liege Lady, who has unleashed her Hunters to find Del and bring her back. At the same time, Rose Grace, believed to be the girl to fulfill a thousand-year-old prophecy, is forced out of the Guild Sanctuary, and a second hunt commences to control her and the Heart Blade it is believed she will soon summon into existence, for Dark or Light. With control of that blade comes the power to remake the world, or destroy it, a prize for which even demons and angels will join forces. Action pretty much from start to finish, but the character development doesn't suffer for it. This is a series about 4 swords, so there will almost certainly be 4 books, but this one is a complete story on its own, and a perfect lead for the rest, just as the Heart Blade is the guide to the other three Blades. I'm looking forward to reading Night Blade, the next book.
Juliana Spink Mills’ Heart Blade is a great YA Fantasy, and a brilliant debut from a really promising author. Heart Blade is the opening volume in a new series, and although nominally YA (Young Adult) the novel is a great read for adults too. It’s a fast-paced, tightly written Urban Fantasy with great characters and an interesting plot that kept surprising me right up until the end.
The story takes place in a world recognisable as our own except for one detail: preternatural creatures from myths and folklore such as demons not only exist but are also bound by a covenant, a fragile peace between factions living among regular humans. This, I think, is one of the book’s great strengths: a well thought out system that complements the characters and plot, working in symbiosis to deliver a great story that stands as a terrific debut.
Although the main protagonists are teenagers, Heart Blade transcends the YA umbrella and has much to recommend it to anyone who likes Urban Fantasy, but perhaps most of all it’s the well-drawn characters and tight plotting that make this such a great read and a fine opening to a series.
I have a complaint: from opening this book, I've found it impossible to put down, so no sleep, no dinner made, no groceries bought. The author has woven a complex tale with wonderful, three-dimensional characters who captivated me from the first page. Somehow she kept all the strands of the story spinning and brought them together in a finale that will spoil me for lesser books for some time to come. Now I can't wait to get hold of the next one in the series (although this one happily stands alone). This is such an exciting new author. After all the teen fiction involving vampires that flooded the market a few years ago, I didn't think I'd ever enjoy another book featuring vampires, werewolves, witches, demons and angels, but this author has created an original and fascinating world. More, please
It took me way too long to get around to reading this, but once I started I finished it in a day and a half! So good. It takes beings like demons and vampires and angels, subjects that can so easily become cliche, and makes them fresh and interesting. I love this version of demon lore. I literally ordered the sequel the minute I was done with this one.
A prophecy foretold of the Heart Blade, a weapon that could be wielded for good or evil, depending on who finds it first. Set in an urban, modern world full of demons, vampires, and half-angels--among other paranormal beings--HEART BLADE by Juliana Spink Mills is a YA novel that crosses over into adult appeal. The writing was tight, the plot was so engaging, and the rather large cast of characters was well-developed. I loved this book and am excited to read the next in the series!
I was fortunate to be able to get an ARC of Juliana Spink Mills' YA novel Heart Blade. I had read the description, but was not prepared for the way the book grabbed me from the first page. It is classed as YA, but I’m sure it will appeal to a wider audience. Even after I’d finished reading, the book stayed in my mind for quite some time. This is Juliana Spink Mills' debut novel – what a fantastic start to her series.