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Bloodleaf #1


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Aurelia is a princess, but they call her a witch.

Surrounded by spirits and burdened with forbidden magic, she lives in constant fear of discovery by the witch-hunting Tribunal and their bloodthirsty mobs. When a devastating assassination attempt reveals her magical abilities, Aurelia is forced to flee her country with nothing but her life.

Alone and adrift in an enemy kingdom, Aurelia plans her revenge against the Tribunal, desperate to bring down the dark organization that has wrought terror upon her people for hundreds of years. But there's something deeply amiss in her new home, too, and soon she finds herself swept into a deadly new mystery with a secretive prince, the ghost of an ancient queen, and a poison vine called Bloodleaf.

Aurelia is entangled in a centuries-long game of love, power, and war, and if she can't break free before the Tribunal makes its last move, she may lose far more than her crown.

384 pages, ebook

First published March 12, 2019

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About the author

Crystal Smith

3 books593 followers
Crystal Smith is a writer, photographer, and artist who developed an early love of storytelling in a family of voracious readers. She resides in Utah with her high school sweetheart husband and two lively sons. When she isn’t writing or creating, she can be found re-watching Jane Eyre and Howl's Moving Castle or reading ghost stories with all the lights on.

*Please note, due to Amazon's review policies, I will no longer be accepting friend requests.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,232 reviews
Profile Image for Karen.
124 reviews80 followers
April 20, 2021
My boyfriend found an ARC of this chilling in his university student lounge. Literally in perfect condition, on a table, with a postcard sticking out saying "FREE BOOK." He immediately snatched it up and gave it to me (because he's the best).

And to whoever indirectly gifted me this book, thank you and I will read it soon.
August 31, 2021

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I decided I had to read this book after my friend Heather gave it five stars because we tend to have the same frustrations about YA fantasy. BLOODLEAF, however, is that one book out of one hundred that manages to turn all the usual tropes on their heads. It has innovative and interesting world-building, a compelling mythology, a strong female protagonist, real emotional stakes, and some really good twists and plotting that left me guessing (even if my guesses were right).

The plot is a little confusing and less is definitely more when going in, but the main character is a teen girl named Aurelia who is engaged to be married to the prince of a neighboring kingdom. Her own kingdom is like Scotland in the peak of its witch-hunting frenzy, and unlucky for her, she happens to be a witch. When she is betrayed, she ends up being forced into hiding and flees to the neighboring kingdom incognito where she discovers a treacherous plot to undo their magical protections and throw the entire city into darkness.

Aurelia is such a great narrator. She immerses you into the story without overwhelming you with info-dumps. You, the reader, basically see everything in real time as she's experiencing it. This book made me feel all the feels, too. There were some real gut-punching moments in here that made my stomach drop. I also like the three-tiered magic system of feral, high, and blood magic. Also, it's worth noting that blood magic involves cutting, so there's a lot of that in here (in case you needed to know).

BLOODLEAF was so much more than I dared hope it would be. I can't wait to read the sequels.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for ✨faith✨trust✨pixiedust✨.
399 reviews383 followers
February 28, 2019
I received this ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book in any way. All quotes are taken from the uncorrected proof and are subject to change.

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH This was actually really good, like wow

Obligatory Summary

Aurelia is a witch, and she is hated for it. All her life, she's been threatened because of her power, feared for her ability, and one day, just as she's to leave for her arranged marriage with her kingdom's enemy's heir, an assassination attempt almost kills her. Forced to flee her home, she is betrayed by her friends and has to make her way to Achleva, where an impostor has taken her place. There she meets new friends and confronts the new threat facing the kingdom: a wicked mage is destroying the magical wall that protects Achleva, one murder at a time.

The strongest magic requires the greatest sacrifice.

The Writing and Worldbuilding

The first quarter to third of this was not the best, and it is pretty much the sole reason this is 4 stars and not 5. It bored me with the great deal of exposition and didn't paint a good image of what Renalt looked like. It seemed like it was going to be predictable and cliche, with tired and overused tropes.

And then it kinda subverted all of them??

Don't go, my child, to the Ebonwilde,
for there a witch resides.
Little boys she bakes into pretty cakes,
Little girls into handsome pies.
You'll know her by her teeth so white,
Eyes so red and heart so black,
But if you see her, child, in the Ebonwilde,
You won't be coming back.

It did many things I never saw coming, and the writing itself even improved. There were throwback lines from the beginning at the end that made me scream when I read them because it was just so good. I loved every single character. I loved all the themes and the imagery. It blew me a way a little. It made me cry several times, and even made me root for a character to come back to life after dying (there was a lot of death btw like wow; no one was safe), which is usually something I despise. The way all the plot threads wove back together at the end was just fantastic. If I had read this when I was like 15, it probably would be my favorite book.

The world was especially amazing. It has such an astounding lore and feels so real. I really want to know more about it. The magic system was super cool. If it weren't already based on the Goose Girl, I'd say it felt like a fairytale all on its own.

The Characters

Aurelia/Emilie: I didn't really like her at first. She seemed too cavalier about the threats on her life, and felt like a stagnant character, but once some trials and hardships befell her, she really grew into an awesome heroine. She's tough and brutal and kinda gave me Nyx from Cruel Beauty vibes. I really loved her.

Zan: While he wasn't the total heart throb he was obviously intended to be, I still did really love him, and wanted only the best for him. I really appreciated his arc and his disabilities (and how they weren't really glamorized but weren't demonized either)

Nathaniel and Kate: I AM STILL SOBBING

Toris: This dude. What a good villain.
"The wolves howl, Aurelia, and there may come a time when I will no longer be able to hold them back."

All the other characters were fantastic in their own way, but not really important enough to warrant a specific mention. Suffice it to say that I loved all of them.


I need the sequel in my hands pronto. Unfortunately, as of the time of this review, this book hasn't even come out yet. I might just die.

Nihil nunc salvet te.

Nothing can save you now.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,564 followers
March 12, 2019
Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith is the first book of a new young adult fantasy trilogy by the same name. This series is another that is actually a retelling, however, with this one it’s a story I’m not familiar with myself, the Grimm Fairy tale “The Goose Girl” so I went into this one reading it more as an original story myself.

While Princess Aurelia is an heir to the crown in her country she’s always had a quirky personality about her, this comes from Aurelia’s ability to see the ghosts around her. Not only does she keep this ability hidden as much as she can but also her ability to use blood magic as it’s forbidden in her land.

When there is an attempt made upon Aurelia’s life those around her do what they can to protect her and keep her from harm. However, when all else fails Aurelia finds herself separated from her family and friends and on the run away from her kingdom with only the magic she’s hid as protection.

This was actually a nice start to this new series and while it was somewhat slow to take off while building the world I still found myself enjoying it. The world within almost to me had a historical feel to it with innocent women hanged for the suspicion of witchcraft and Aurelia being a princess with servants helping her etc. I can’t say how it does as a retelling but it’s certainly gained my interest on it’s own.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for JenacideByBibliophile.
209 reviews131 followers
March 14, 2019
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, via NetGalley for an honest review.



A Retelling.

Witches, Magic, Royals, Murder.

Two Kingdoms. One Arranged Marriage.

And a really big wall.



…is that it?


Bloodleaf is a retelling of “The Goose Girl” and tracks Princess Aurelia as she is forced to travel from her kingdom of Renalt to the kingdom of Achleva, after she is accused of being a witch. With an arranged marriage set between Aurelia and the sick prince of Achleva, Aurelia moves towards her set future with only duty propelling her forward. But when members of her entourage turn on her and attempt an assassination, Aurelia finds that a girl in her traveling party has taken her place and has entered Achleva disguised as the Princess, with her younger brother, the Prince, in tow. Alone and starving, Aurelia must try to make her way into Achleva to make things right and save her brother. But a run-in with a young man named Zan, and the threat of the wall of Achleva being shattered, Aurelia must decide if she should cower or use her powers to protect.
Bloodleaf isn’t terrible.

I actually found it to be a semi-enjoyable and quick read. But it’s never a good sign when reading a book, that you begin to feel like…you’re just reading a book. Especially when said book is in the fantasy genre and promises magic, witches, poison and bloodshed. When I see “fantasy” next to a book, I know to expect a story and world that I would sell every possession I own to be in. I’m a hopeless dreamer and romantic, so I obviously look for books that will reflect the things that I cannot just physically manifest with a snap of my fingers (i.e. fae, magic, witches, royals, rebellion that actually works).

With that said, Bloodleaf had a ton of great qualities…but the continuous theme of rushed scenes, lax explanations, and a romance that feels rather out of nowhere, has left me feeling rather disappointed. The story started out great, pulling me in with the promise of death and an ever-fascinating, yet depressing, witch hunt. But as the story continues, I am left feeling like there were gaping holes begging to be filled, and several opportunities missed to envelop the reader into this magical world.

Seeing as how this is supposed to be a series, I am left REALLY confused as to why things were skipped over or so hurriedly explained? The author could have taken the time to allow me to connect with the characters and learn about them, rather than just give me a watery reflection of who they are. The plot felt rushed, the villain was overly obvious, and it just left a bland taste in my mouth. This story had SO much potential, but it fell incredibly flat for me and left me annoyed because it only needed some slight tweaking to be AMAZING.

I found Aurelia to be a decent character, but her development was incomplete. She grew up in a kingdom where witches are hunted and magic is kept secret, especially her own. But when she is in Achleva and beginning to use her magic and control it, it seems like one moment she has no handle on it and then the next she just knows what she’s doing.

I kept feeling like she was just materializing into this character the author wanted her to blossom into, without there being any represented moments or time of her doing so. SHOW ME, DON’T TELL ME! She came across as a character who could have developed more and been given a bit more substance, because she just ended up one-dimensional and simplistic. In regards to Zan, he was slightly better off in the creative department, but still didn’t meet the potential of what he could have been. He was witty, charming, sarcastic and slightly arrogant (which I loved), but there also wasn’t enough put into molding his character. ESPECIALLY when it came to the romance between Aurelia and Zan! The relationship made me feel so confused and flustered because of how forced it was. At one point they are just regular ol’ chums, and the next they are madly in love?!?!?!


Overall the story started off strong, but it just wasn’t tied together as much as I would have liked. It isn’t a horrible book and I think most of you will enjoy it, but it isn’t up there with ACOTAR or The Folk of the Air books by way of how the story builds and unfolds, or the characters. I would say that this is probably one of those stories you just have to try for yourself, because I think there will be a lot of mixed opinions on it. I just know that for me, Bloodleaf twas a dud.

Profile Image for A Mac.
813 reviews139 followers
August 20, 2022
Aurelia is a princess with magic in a kingdom where magic is considered evil. Living in fear of being hunted by the Tribunal, she soon realizes they're not the only threat to her. Forced to flee her country after almost being assassinated, she starts her life anew in a new country. But she soon finds herself caught up in magic, intrigue, and betrayals, which all seem to center around a magical plant called Bloodleaf.

The worldbuilding was interesting and I liked the details the author included. However, it wasn't very in depth and wasn't incorporated as much as it should have been, which led to the setting feeling a little generic and lackluster at times. I enjoyed the magic system and how it was divided, but again, it was never really explored.

Aurelia was an okay protagonist overall and underwent some character growth throughout the work. It did feel like the author used some plot-induced-stupidity centered around her actions though in order to make the plot work, which was disappointing. Unfortunately, the other characters lacked in depth, development, and growth. Their interactions felt shallow as well. For example, there was one instance where a character got unnecessarily upset/jealous and was a real jerk, but it was never addressed other than a quick, "Oh he's not usually like that." This treatment cheapened the interactions and made the characters feel more like cardboard cutouts than real people.

This was an average YA fantasy read with a predictable plot, an okay protagonist, and some attempts at worldbuilding that were good but not as fleshed-out as I expect from a fantasy novel. I wasn't blown away, but I also didn't dislike the book. I won't be continuing the series, though.
Profile Image for Leigha.
475 reviews17 followers
January 23, 2019
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A princess goes undercover in another kingdom after a failed assassination attempt in this young adult fantasy romance.

No way to break this easily – princess Aurelia is the dumbest princess I have ever met. This novel should be renamed to Aurelia and Her Awful, No Good, Stupid Choices. It seemed to me the author had the plot outlined, but she didn’t know how to make it move in that direction without sacrificing her main character. Over half of Aurelia’s problems are her poor choices and lack of awareness. It would be one thing if she started the novel with poor critical thinking skills, learning them as she developed her magic. However, Aurelia continued to make either poor decisions or rash decisions as the novel progressed.

On top of a problematic protagonist, the novel suffered from too many tropes and a data dump of world building. It was easy to guess the twists for everything from Aurelia’s love interest to the big bad of the novel. I liked some of the secondary characters, particularly Kate and Zan, but they are never used beyond propping up Aurelia’s story line. I will say the ending includes a satisfactory resolution to the plot as well as the characters. Perhaps there will be a sequel, although I have no interest in reading it.

tl;dr A problematic protagonist, too many tropes, and unorganized world building left me not really enjoying this novel.
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,096 reviews804 followers
Want to read
August 4, 2018
Okay, so the release was in fact pushed back. But on the upside, OMG, I love this cover so much more than the previous ones that were shared/pitched! It's so pretty =D
Huh, the cover has been removed, I wonder if it means this release has been pushed back.
The cover isn't that appealing, but the full synopsis definitely is. I can already tell I am going to want to murder Lisette, back-stabbing bitch.
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I hope they stay true to what happens to her in original tale cause a traitor like that deserves it.
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I hope an official release date will be set soon
Profile Image for Shelflove.
11 reviews87 followers
January 2, 2019
Wow! This book was incredible! I loved the character development and all those plot twists. It had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
Profile Image for Gretal.
701 reviews73 followers
December 19, 2020

Let me get started by saying this was not a good retelling of The Goose Girl, nor was it even a good book. I had so many issues with it, and the decisions the author made in regards to retelling that story. This review has some spoilers because wow there are some things I had Thoughts on. So 1 star.

First, the briefest of explanations for why this isn't a good retelling of The Goose Girl.

- There are no geese. NO GEESE. In a retelling of The GOOSE Girl. WHY. Our main character, you know, the princess turned goose girl herself, doesn't even get a job?
- Falada is a mare. For no good reason. This just me being nit picky, but if you're going to change things, have a reason? Or maybe the reason is that she felt the need to kill off yet another female character because, this is spoilery, but very few female characters survive the book.
- Conrad, the goose boy, is her seven-year-old brother now? Yeah, I don't get it either.
- also there's this annoying subplot that isn't at all goose girl related that becomes a huge part of it and just annoyed me
- really though. THERE ARE NO GEESE. who writes a goose girl retelling and doesn't put any geese in it???

And the incredibly long, wow this wasn't even a good book section:

- First it employs the truly exhausting trope of the guard-friend being in love with the princess who doesn't love him back. YAWN. The amatoheteronormativity of this.
- We're thrown into the book like one might be thrown off the deep end of a pool with a weight attached to the ankle. It's very confusing, and then there is information we're just told about what happened before the book, but I think the book would be better if we actually got to see it. Like Aurelia's dad and aunt(?) are dead and Aurelia, for some reason, thinks she's responsible. Do we see this though? no. We're told it. And Aurelia is to wed the prince of a neighboring city/kingdom (like I said the world building is shoddy I don't understand if there's much of a country around the city) but we're just told this instead of witnessing her finding it out or whatever. I don't even know it's bad.
- Aurelia is super ableist in regards to said prince she's supposed to marry. The prince was sick, and that's the main reason she doesn't want to marry him... not the more reasonable and not ableist reason that she just doesn't know him?
- Maybe this is just me, but I associate fairytales with friendship. Like yeah there's the romance, but I feel like that's not truly that significant part of the plot. In this book though, there was zero friendship. And it was very romance heavy.
- Maybe you're wondering, but Gretal, are you sure there's no friendship? Well, here's the thing. In the beginning, she had a friend who was a guard, but he was in love with her and kissed her so – no friendship there. And then she allegedly has a female friend, Kate, but I don't know why they're friends? The author does nothing to build up their friendship. We're just told they're friends, and that's supposed to do it? And then, Kate dies and Aurelia is really upset and like yes. Someone dying is usually a sad affair, but Kate isn't given as much weight in the story and Aurelia's life as we are told she has, so why are we expected to care?
- To get more into Kate which OOF I HAVE SO MUCH TO SAY. A little backstory. Kate is a noble, and she was engaged to this noble, Dedrick. Dedrick's lackey is named Nathaniel and he would walk Kate to and from Dedrick's house to meet him. Nathaniel and Kate fall in love and get married and when we meet Kate she is pregnant with his child and living a life as a great seamstress. One day Dedrick stops by and is like whoa you're really pregnant and having a great life. I'm happy for you. You make a great wife. I know why we wouldn't work out, and I wouldn't have made a good husband for you blah blah blah. He also showed up to commission some garment from her. So Nathaniel comes home and is rude to him and after he leaves Kate is like dude what the fuck? and Nathaniel says he forbids Dedrick coming in his house and Kate is like uh isn't it our house? and Nathaniel is just like I forbid it. Don't disobey me on this. My word is final. and offers no further explanation and it's just discussion closed. AND OH YEAH DID I MENTION SHE'S ONLY LIKE A COUPLE WEEKS AWAY FROM GIVING BIRTH??
- So yeah. that happens. really shitty. oh and I forgot to mention. Aurelia is just watching this and says nothing. isn't like Nathaniel stop what the fuck. And later she's talking to Kate and is like "it will all work out". WHICH. NO THANKS THAT'S GROSS. IF HE HAS A GOOD REASON FOR KATE TO STAY AWAY FROM DEDRICK, HE SHOULD SAY IT. NOT JUST FORBID IT. COME ON.
- Oh, also. The Bloodleaf flower of the title is super rare and can do incredible things, and Aurelia used it to save the life of someone she didn't even know, but apparently she didn't have the guts to tell the husband of her very pregnant "friend" that he was a controlling prick who didn't deserve Kate.
- Kate continues to meet Dedrick because 1. he's a customer and 2. he says that her mom misses her (she hasn't seen her parents since she ran off with Nathaniel the commoner) and wants to see her again. So one day, she goes to his house because she's going to meet her mom there. except her mom isn't there and she's like I want to leave. Dedrick then is like Nathaniel isn't good for you he sucks and yes, Dedrick is trying to manipulate her, but he's also not wrong?? We don't get to see that much of Nathaniel and Kate, so the scene where Nathaniel acts like a jealous asshole and yells at his 8 months pregnant wife is very memorable and shapes their relationship in the eyes of the reader, or at least me. Also, the weight is put on Kate to be the better person? Nathaniel never apologizes, and Kate it seems, is the first one to speak after that. and it's just total bullshit.
- So anyway Kate rejects him and Dedrick tries to kill her because oh yeah there's  also an annoying murder prophecy plot going on about bringing down the wall around the city and they need to kill three white horses, a maid, a mother, and a crone, and then three royals of the city/country/whotfknowswhatisthisworldbuilding. And Aurelia is there because this is all told in her pov in first person. so she kinda saves the day, stops Dedrick from stabbing her, but on their way home Kate goes into labor. Aurelia is aware there's something wrong because Dedrick recited some words that also kinda make people die maybe? and so she runs to get this old healer woman. Kate gives birth to a baby girl, but they're both not doing well and the healer woman has some tincture made of the Bloodleaf petal because she has cancer and it's just enough to save Kate or the baby and the woman is fine dying because a mother shouldn't survive her child because the old woman lost her son. so Kate dies and the baby lives. and Kate wanted to name her one thing, but then Nathaniel comes and changes the name?? it was weird I don't even know I was a little disturbed.
- Getting into the Dedrick thing. So yes. He sucks. Nathaniel at a trial reveals that Dedrick had him rough up a bunch of people and also Dedrick probably killed his dad. So yes. Dude is trash. and he killed Kate. But Nathaniel also still sucks. 1. he should've told Kate why she shouldn't hang around Dedrick instead of just acting like a jealous fucking asshole. and 2. he never apologized for yelling at her. and because Kate is dead and Dedrick is responsible, Nathaniel's actions are never actually commented on, despite the fact that Kate wouldn't have spent time with Dedrick (and thus died) if NATHANIEL HAD JUST FUCKING EXPLAINED WHY HE DIDN'T WANT HER TO SPEND TIME WITH HIM INSTEAD OF ACTING LIKE A JEALOUS ASSHOLE. Just because one person is obviously bad, doesn't mean that another person who is more subtly shitty is good :)
- The Goose Girl really has enough of a plot without adding in this annoying prophecy plot thing. I just don't think the world building was well done enough for it to be good.
- The maid who is pretending to be Aurelia after the ambush in the forest is named Lisette, and she has next to no characterization. We're told that her and Aurelia were best friends when they were younger, but I don't know why they stopped being friends, and she's just kind of there. You'd think she'd be a larger part of the story, but no she's just being manipulated by her dad and then he kills her.
- So with Falada, Kate, and Lisette, that's three of the named female characters down, but don't worry, there's more! The old healer woman from earlier? She is going to attend Dedrick in the dungeon because the king made it a rule that every prisoner has the right to see a healer if they can afford it so basically all the rich people just can get these healers to tend to them and then be like they can't stand trial! and so they get off. and all the poor people who actually need healers can't afford them.
- which also is a commentary on wealth and classes I suppose, but I guess I'm just confused because Aurelia doesn't work? she just lives in a hut and is fine and somehow has food from these people who are allegedly her friends but we don't actually really see? I don't really know. Maybe I missed something, but she doesn't work. BECAUSE THERE'S NO GEESE FOR HER TO TEND. It just doesn't seem thought out to me.
- Back to the old healer lady, who one might call a crone, she's attending Dedrick but yeah. you guessed it. he murders her for the prophecy so that's four female characters dead out of nine major female characters, including one baby.
- And then Aurelia is killed (I don't remember how) but she's not actually because back in the beginning there was some blood magic done binding the lives of her mom, her guard friend, and the random dude she saved with the Bloodleaf (he's a diplomat from the city/country thing most of this book takes place in and the love interest pretends to be his son) to hers so they'd die before she did. And instead of the other two people, it's the mom who dies because of course. So that's five.
There's some ghosty lady from some history 500 years ago who's kinda haunting/protecting Aurelia and it seems like she dies for good at some point. I wasn't going to mention her, but she is one of the significant female characters, and she is dead.
- So yeah. Six. Now, you might be wondering, but surely there are many female characters still alive? But I can only count three. There's Aurelia, the main character. There's Kate's baby. and there's this woman who is like a trusted advisor to Aurelia's family and also didn't want to die for her in that blood magic spell and so was replaced by the guard friend (she might be my favorite character because seems like she has some sense). Three. Characters. It seems absurd, but I can't think of any other significant female characters who are still alive.
- Alright now back to the random diplomat dude. It's just one throwaway line, but I'm pretty sure he and the previous king who is dead were a thing. Which is fine I guess except the king is dead??? and no, I'm pretty sure there aren't any other queer characters. so yeah. also his sister married the next king aka diplomat dude's lover's brother.
- Also, that sister threw herself out of a tower to save her son, the prince, because he was really sick and apparently Bloodleaf flowers only bloom when someone bleeds on them? I think. And so she killed herself so he would live.
- Yes, that is the fourth woman dying so a child might live (if you weren't keeping track, Kate for her baby, old healer lady for Kate's baby[maybe she was killed by Dedrick, but she intended to because she gave up the Bloodleaf that was keeping her alive], and Aurelia's mom for Aurelia. It's a strong theme. which is all fine, I guess, but why don't we ever see dads dying for their children?
- I also just did not like the writing at all. the dialogue was clunky, and it was not a fun time.

Additionally, this book had two plotlines that were pretty much identical to ones in Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl and were NOT present in the original fairytale, which is highly suspect to me. Sure, they're fantasy tropes and people don't lay claim to tropes, but the fact that it was not one but two plotlines and with the exact same characters as in Shannon Hale's book is I think worthy of examining and critiquing.

ALL IN ALL, I do not recommend this book, and if you're looking for a retelling of The Goose Girl where the main character actually tends to some geese, I recommend The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. It also has lots of great friendship in addition to the geese. I also highly recommend Thorn by Intisar Khanani. The main character in that book also tends to geese, and it's a really beautiful start to a series that I personally have quickly become obsessed with.
Profile Image for Nana Spark.
205 reviews2 followers
June 23, 2022
Rec by: Faith


Faith, please don't hate me, but I'm about to tear this book apart. So just look away.

Thoughts 💭

My goodness this book was a roller-coaster ride. As I told Faith after finishing this:

"Not one of the Universal or Disney ones but more of the cheap ones you see at a carnival or something. They're kinda fun but lacking in something that just doesn't cut it."

That's basically how I feel about this. It has all the elements of a book I should love as a Goose Girl retelling but just didn’t hit it.

To summarize, we got Aurelia, aka Miss Incompetent (more on that later), who is the princess of a kingdom that doesn't like witches. Welp, too bad! It turns out Aurelia secretly is one. 🤷‍♀️ So after a failed assassination attempt (and Aurelia stupidly showing off her witchcraft to a room full of spectators) she is whisked away to the city of Achleva, the city of her betrothed, while she plots her revenge towards the ones responsible for her misfortune.

The plot overall was fun yet predictable. I mean who doesn't love a book with princesses, magic, and creepy ass ghosts?! The sense of adventure I got from it as Aurelia is moved from one place to another was fun and the character interaction made sure I was never truly bored. However, what I found lacking in the plot was more that it takes until the 75% mark for the book to actually do anything. The first 100 pages just screams basic bitch YA plot with mustache twirling villains, the next 100 pages are just Aurelia lounging around not doing jack shit but trying to get herself killed, and then the rest is the actual magic, witchcraft and adventure that I came for in the first place. I saw 99.9% of the "surprising" scenes coming, and the ending just left me bitter.

■ Writing
I don't know if this book just confirmed my self-deprecating suspensions or what, but it made me feel like a complete fucking idiot.

Half the time when Aurelia or her and a bunch of people are off running around the city I'm completely lost on what exactly they're doing. They could simply be climbing over a wall, but the way it's written is so jumbled I can't even imagine what they're doing. But it's probably just me being dumb.

Also: the writing likes to use dialogue to show action a lot. Instead of having description sentences of what a character's doing in between dialogue, the writing just has the characters reacting to it. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but abrupt scenes like that are everywhere. And once I noticed it I couldn't not notice it. It was like reading first draft dialogue, where the author was gonna add descriptions to them but just forgot.

■ Characters

- Aurelia: The girl with many titles
I rarely thought of Aurelia as her real name. Instead, I gave her some cute nicknames I thought suited her character better. Some of my personal favs:
Miss Incompetent
Train Wreck
Miss Special
Ms. Damsel-Be -Damned
Ms. You had one job!
Ms. I ruin every great scene

Move over Feyre cuz you've got some competition for the trending award of the next YA MC that just has to be absolutely insufferable.

Aurelia is what really ruined this book for me. At the start of the book Aurelia just has one job: keep your head down so you're not in the public eye & wait to practice your witchcraft until after you get married so the mob doesn't burn you at the stake. Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong! The very first page Aurelia is out in the city streets watching witch hangings like its free TV! Like girl go back inside the castle!

When she almost gets assassinated, she decides to show off her cool witch powers to a bunch of spectators and has to be rushed out of the city as a mob tries to kill her. You would think this would give her a reality check as many people's lives are on the line here and are counting on her survival, but no. Every couple pages Aurelia is out here almost getting herself killed and needs to be saved by another character ( usually a dude of course cuz why not). It drove me nuts!

Each and every important task she's given, Aurelia always, without fail, fucks it up somehow. She never decides to just sit her ass down somewhere and just think for one second. She's always haphazardly walking into danger like it's a new waterpark! I know the book acknowledges that she's reckless, but it's one thing to be reckless and have it sometimes go in your favor versus it never working out at all. I kid you not, every bad thing until the very last page of this book is because Aurelia fucked up something and someone else has to clean up after her.

- Zan: Best Boy
Why isn't Zan the main character? He's smart, handsome, and the banter between him and every other characters is gold. But alas, we have Miss Train Wreck as our eyes and ears.

- Kellan: Mr. Protector Trope
He's the childhood best friend/ love interest YA trope that's only there to be a trope. That's it.

- Nathaniel: Mr. Filler
Zan's bodyguard. Idk he's there, I guess.

- Kate: Mrs. Filler
Nathaniel's wife. She's there, I guess.

- Conrad: The sweet boy
Aurelia's little brother. Deserved none of the bull shit Aurelia ultimately caused and put him through. If he doesn't get salty about it in the next book I'm suing.

- Toris: The mustache twirler
The obvious first chapter, mustache twirling villain. So exciting.

- Lisette: The loyal servant character placement
In the original Goose Girl tale, the princess is betrayed by one of her servants. I wonder who that will be? 🤔

- Onal: Healer of nothing
The royal healer of Aurelia's royal fam

- Simon: Plot convenient exposition bot
The brother-in-law to the King of Achleva and uncle to the prince

- Queen what's her nutz: Queen Filler
Aurelia and Conrad's mom. Pretty irrelevant for most of the story.

- Prince Valentin: The betrothed
The sickly prince of Achleva. Pretty mysterious yet interesting character throughout the book .

- King what's his nutz:
The all mighty, shitty king of Achleva and Valentin's dad. Pretty irrelevant for 75% of the book.

Recommendation 👎
I honestly can't say I would recommend this to anyone. But if you like the premise and the sparkly cover like I did, knock yourself out, my dude.


Where to get a copy: 📚

Amazon* - Book Depository* (Free Shipping) - Barnes & Noble

ℹ Disclosure:
*This review contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. All proceeds will be donated to a non-profit animal shelter at the end of the year. Thanks. :)

Before reading thoughts 🤔

This was 100% a hyped cover buy. Faith loved it and the author and her are low-key friends so I'm really excited to read it.
Profile Image for Allison.
168 reviews128 followers
March 4, 2019
I really liked the characters in this as well (I loved both Aurelia and Zan) as the usage of magic. The plot was a bit slow towards the beginning, but it definitely picked up for me when Zan and the other characters began being introduced. The idea of this being a retelling of The Goose Girl was pretty interesting, and after reading over a summary of it, I can definitely see the connection.

I honestly thought that this was going to be a standalone rather than a trilogy, because the story ended in a concluding way. Either way, I'm excited to check out the author's second book when it does come out.
Profile Image for Sandra Lawerson.
422 reviews167 followers
September 7, 2019


La vida de Aurelia ha estado planificada desde que nació. Al ser la primera hija del rey y la reina de Renalt, su destino ha estado anclado al heredero del reino enemigo, Achleva, con el intento de terminar de una vez por todas los enfrenamientos que tienen desde hace tiempo. Sin embargo, Aurelia esconde un secreto que podría significar su muerte. Desde siempre, Aurelia ha tenido una conexión con la magia, pero en Renalt la hechicería está penada con la muerte. Vista siempre bajo ojos escrutadores, todo cambia para Aurelia cuando debe mostrar su realidad. Perseguida por su pueblo y traicionada por gente inesperada, debe huir y esconderse, ponerse una máscara y actuar como otra persona con otro nombre para no desvelar su verdadera naturaleza. El destino, no obstante, quiere que su relación con Achleva siga firme, así que cuando entra en la ciudad acorazada y protegida con magia, todo lo que allí descubre desequilibra aquello en lo que siempre ha creído. La ciudad de Achleva está en peligro y Aurelia podría ser la única que podría salvarla de su caída y su desesperación. Pero Aurelia tendrá que pagar un precio muy alto, exponerse ante la gente que sigue rechazando lo que es a la vez que sus sentimientos por un chico enigmático y amable empiezan a florecer, donde la muerte empieza a ganar terreno y donde el miedo y la desesperación hará que personas de su alrededor sufran consecuencias irreparables.

Hoja de sangre es la prometedora primera parte de una nueva trilogía de fantasía, un libro que lleva llamando la atención desde que se publicó por primera vez en inglés, tanto, que ya hay alguna que otra productora interesada en darle una adaptación en formato serie. Un muy buen retelling de un cuento de los hermanos Grimm, La pastora de ocas, el libro nos adentra en una ambientación donde dos reinos llevan en guerra demasiado tiempo y donde la magia es vista como algo demoníaco, a repudiar, a través de una trama que intenta mostrar diferentes elementos para crear una lectura entretenida y bien formada en algunos aspectos.

Narrado en primera persona a través de los ojos de Aurelia, nuestra protagonista, el libro comienza con unos capítulos que te ponen pronto en situación: Renalt está condenando a mujeres sospechosas de utilizar la brujería. Tan solo con esto, la autora nos mete en una situación peligrosa allá por donde vayamos, teniendo ya que mirar a nuestras espaldas para evitar alguna daga traicionera que empiece a asesinar sin ningún tapujo a cualquiera que haga algo sospechoso. Siguiendo a Aurelia, pronto empezaremos a conocer cómo funciona la vida de Renalt, sus creencias, sus miedos, siendo el inicio de un escenario rico en detalles, que va a jugar un papel importante, donde la magia empieza a cobrar vida poco a poco y de manera tímida, dejando ya capítulos de alta tensión donde los hechizos, rituales, las primeras carreras y los primeros giros en la trama empiezan a funcionar. Si bien es cierto que ha sido aquí cuando he empezado a notar que todo iba con algo de precipitación, mencionando o explicando la autora lo necesario para comprender el mundo que se va a abrir a nuestro alrededor, eso también ha proporcionado una lectura que, desde el comienzo, es bastante directa, ligera y amena, enganchando sin problemas y siendo una gran fuente de entretenimiento. Mezclando momentos más pausados para seguir metiendo la historia de Renalt y Achleva, para seguir indagando en el tema de la magia y para seguir desarrollando a sus personajes, Crystal Smith consigue crear una lectura interesante en la que las escenas se van a suceder una detrás de otra, donde un misterio y una misión central empiezan también a entremezclarse, creciendo y dando un punto focal en lo que centrarse que va dejando también sus propias huellas y resquicios a seguir, consiguiendo que la historia sea ambiciosa y arriesgada, una vorágine de eventos que no te van a soltar. A medida que se avanza en la historia se van descubriendo nuevas cosas, verdades de secretos que empiezan a romperse, más giros pequeños que consiguen que el libro se lea volando. Nos vamos acercando cada vez más y más al turbio pretexto para dar sentido a todo lo que está pasando, asesinatos misteriosos, un complot para destruir una ciudad que hay que proteger a toda costa, peleando contra enemigos, escalando lugares remotos y de fantasía muy reales y bien descritos, poniendo a prueba la valentía y el poder de unos personajes que cada vez van a ser más cercanos, cada vez van a dar más y más, que van a sufrir con las consecuencias de sus actos, avanzando hacia unos capítulos finales en los que se va a provocar una serie de circunstancias que van a cambiarlo todo, que van a romper los esquemas que se habían construido hasta ahora, un final plagado de sorpresas inesperadas que, aunque parece que todo queda cerrado, de alguna manera sabes que esto es solo el comienzo de algo más grande.

A pesar de todo esto, la historia no ha sabido convencerme del todo. Mi principal problema con este libro es que he sentido que no me aportaba nada nuevo al género. Es una historia entretenida y sí, no lo niego, sabe enganchar, pero no me ha parecido nada increíble ni original ni novedoso. Se ha quedado como una historia más que no me ha hecho destacarla por encima de otras. Ha tenido varias cosas que no han logrado decirme demasiado. Una de ellas, el romance. Si hay momentos para desarrollar una ambientación genial, una de las cosas que más me han gustado del libro al ver la cantidad de información que la autora daba para asentar un buen escenario para el transcurso de su historia, con una mitología buena y creíble, y una vida repleta de matices, no ha sido así con el romance. Es más, éste no ha tenido casi cabida de crecimiento en todo el libro. Me ha parecido que la relación que hay es fría, insustancial. No la he sentido ni me la he creído, todo ha pasado muy por encima y sin ton ni son.

Otra de las cosas que me han chirriado de esta historia es la facilidad que tiene Aurelia de entender y controlar la magia. Se supone que, como princesa de un reino que condena la brujería, nunca ha tenido una conexión directa con la magia como para poder entrenar o hacer hechizos a todas horas sin que nadie la descubra y le ponga la soga alrededor de su cuello. Pues es abrir un libro y entender cómo se hace ese ritual y el otro, comprender los pasos, tener un poder inmenso de la noche a la mañana. Se queda algo surrealista al no tener, tampoco, capítulos dedicados al descubrimiento de su interior, a la prueba y el error. Lo hace todo de manera directa, sin escrúpulos, como dando a entender que es algo que ha hecho toda la vida y que controla a la perfección. Junto a esto, he visto algunos agujeros en la trama. Hay escenas que implican a ciertos personajes, hacen cosas y, luego, es como no existieran más hasta cuando la autora lo requiere. Como que las consecuencias de lo que hacen y que deben de afectar a Aurelia de manera muy directa no aparece jamás. Hay una aceptación por los hechos muy errónea, conformidad. ¿Que éste ha hecho eso y significa que podría pasarme aquello? No pasa nada, lo olvido hasta más adelante. Y hay un aspecto central, relacionado con la magia y un hechizo de unión a través de la sangre, que se ha quedado un tanto extraño justo por esto. Ha faltado falta de conexión en esos momentos.

En resumen, Hoja de sangre no es un mal libro. Entretiene y engancha, ofrece una ambientación interesante que se llega a conocer bastante bien, pero peca de ser un inicio al que le falta más sentido y lógica a algunos hechos. Una historia más dentro de la fantasía, la trama es un no parar de escena tras otra, pero la falta de desarrollo del romance y lo extraño que quedan algunas soluciones y relaciones provocan que, al final, te quede un regusto amargo.
Profile Image for Lamaleluna.
296 reviews1,185 followers
January 21, 2020
Hola bella gente lectora! 🤗
Hoy les traigo la segunda foto del Feed! Estoy muy contenta con estás fotos, espero que a ustedes les estén gustando!
Y les traigo también la reseña de mi primer lectura del año. 🌌
Hoja de sangre es un libro de fantasía juvenil, primero de la trilogía, que tenía muchas ganas de leer porque lo había visto varias veces en inglés.
El libro nos cuenta sobre dos reinos enemistados y una protagonista qué es princesa en uno de estos reinos. Ella oculta a su familia que practica brujería y está desesperada por hacer cualquier cosa antes de tener que casarse con el príncipe del otro reino a quién ni siquiera conoce y sólo sabe de él que se rumorea que está enfermo. 🤫
La historia me gustó, es linda y entretenida. No es nada del otro mundo y más sí ya leíste millones de libros de este estilo. Muchas cosas me sorprendieron y muchas otras las pude adivinar, tubo partes aburridas y tuvo partes muy divertidas. Así que en conclusión, no es nada del otro mundo pero lo recomiendo para quien le interese la historia. 😊

Yo leyendo hoja de Sangre: 🤗🙃🙄😬🤔
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,214 reviews11.7k followers
April 17, 2019
Read with Rachel for Friends with ARCs!

Had no idea this was a Goose Girl inspired story until Rachel told me, but knowing things about the story didn’t deter me from enjoying it! Thought it was a fun spin on things, and I liked the elements added to it a lot. Looking forward to the next one!
Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,683 reviews599 followers
April 1, 2019
****4.5 Zan Stars****

Another complete book without a cliffhanger that I thoroughly enjoyed. The world building was spot on (not too much or too little description) along with characters that were easy to relate to and fall in love with.

Yes, the beginning was a bit slow but once it picked up....the action was non-stop with just the right amount of romance!
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 7 books512 followers
May 26, 2019

I'm not sure what I expected from this book. I saw the pretty cover and the intriguing synopsis and thought, why not? I don't even think I read all of the synopsis. Sometimes, going in blind can be fun. But that was not the case with BLOODLEAF.

This book starts strong. We have the princess witnessing a witch execution all the while, being one herself. Something weird like her family casts away female borns, yet they kept her...so, anyway she has to stay hidden because the kingdom hates her. I don't know how a royal family can stand that, but here we are. After an assassination on her way to marry a foreign prince, she has to disguise herself to survive in Achleva where her cousin (now pretending to be Aurelia) and her younger brother have gone in spite of her.

That is where the story gets muddled. There's no apparent conflict and I didn't know Aurelia's intentions. At all. Things seem to happen around her and the story transforms into something else altogether. She befriends a man named Zan who informs of a wicked scheme to take down the wall in the city. None of it is fascinating and clear to her original intentions...which I wasn't too sure of at the start, to begin with.

Aurelia is bland as bland comes. She has no personality, seems to know how to use a knife, and do spells and such, but she doesn't do much else but answer questions and act rude to everyone around her. Almost all the character's felt the same except for Kate, who was amazing. I can think of no words to describe anyone other than, eh, which isn't even a word.

I wasn't wowed by this book. The writing was good, but the personalities of the characters and the world building maybe needed a bit more fleshing out for me to continue the series. Some scenes seemed rushed and thrown together where some were too long and drawn out. I felt as though I needed more of everything. This is just another case of a great idea, but failed execution, in my opinion.
Profile Image for Kat.
405 reviews73 followers
December 11, 2018
Thank you to the Raincoast Books team for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

ACTUAL: 4.5/5 stars

Princess Aurelia is a strong character, who strives for justice across the kingdom, despite being hunted for her blood magic abilities. After fleeing to safety, she discovers a happiness she never had in the castle. But she is not safe for long as a terrible plot is unfolding, and she must choose between saving herself, and the kingdom. This book was one of my most anticipated books of 2019, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. With royalty, secrets, and a revolution, it encompassed some of my favourite fantasy tropes and created a brilliant twisting tale.

The grim fantasy world was well-written, and with a fast paced plot it will hook readers from the beginning. The twist and turns throughout are surprising, offering suspense and mystery. With betrayals, murders, and more, it can be a touch gruesome, but it was bold and added to the uniqueness of this novel. The strong characters I loved, adding to the plot with genuine personalities and dangerous secrets.

The conclusion was my favourite part - a mixture between heartwarming, heartbreaking, and haunting. Absolutely adored this one, and cannot wait for other readers to enjoy it!
Profile Image for Anita Vela.
455 reviews635 followers
October 15, 2019
Una historia fantástica sobre brujas, murallas hechizadas y fantasmas. La historia en general me ha gustado, engancha y tiene una trama un tanto enrevesada, pero me ha faltado algo. No sabría decir exactamente el qué, puede que el desenlace ha sido un poco rápido para mi gusto y con tanta información como que me he perdido un poco. Los personajes me han gustado también mucho, pero el romance no me ha terminado de convencer. Aun así, creo que es un buen inicio para una saga y a la espera me quedo de leer la segunda parte.
Profile Image for Yosa NK.
145 reviews11 followers
June 11, 2020
Me ha gustado mucho. Tiene una buena historia, buenos personajes, buenas descripciones y sobre todo mucha magia. Se lee super rápido y los capítitulos no son muy largos. En algunas partes tuve varios heart attack con las "casi" muertes de algunos personajes, así que ya me veo preparandome mentalmente para el proximo libro.
Profile Image for Cassie.
349 reviews65 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 4, 2019
I’m DNFing this for now. I just have no desire to pick it back up. It had a strong beginning, but I’m 44% into it and just have lost interest in it.
Profile Image for ℓуηη_σƒ_νєℓαяιѕ.
441 reviews60 followers
January 21, 2021
EDIT: 2nd Reading

I read this just as quickly as the first time, and was just as engrossed. It’s such a well laid out and plotted story that you just can’t help to admire & enjoy! Also the quibbles at had on my first read through (2yrs ago) didn’t exist this time around so I bumped up to the full 5 🌟 I think at that time it really was just coming off a bad book when I went into this one so was feeling persnickety 😏 Cause it’s all good now!! Now to finally pick up Greythorne like I meant to do when it first came out 🤭

Woo! Finished! Now that's more like what I expect from my "most anticipated" books! 😁 And cheers for a well done debut!! I love seeing new authors starting out strong ^_^ Anyway, this first book in the trilogy gets 4-4.5 stars

After one of my "most anticipated" books let me down, my expectations going into this next one were a little lower than they would've been normally. The premise sounded great, but so did the previous book, which let me down :( So I went into this ready to pick it apart and just didn't expect to be wowed.

And to start off, the book didn't wow me.

It had the stereotypical princess born with magical abilities in a kingdom where they're persecuted. So I rolled my eyes, here we go again. Why can we never have an MC who's just a normal every day girl or boy?? I mean don't get me wrong, I love my royals, but it's really starting to be unoriginal.

Also, the MC used "blood magic" which was so reminiscent of The Bone Witch, which I wasn't overly thrilled with since that book just didn't hook me at all (And I still sadly need to review it). Aurelia really did feel like Tea; the strongest versions of witches in their respective books, the most distrusted, and that whole born in a kingdom who hates them trope. So I really thought this was going to be a copy-cat novel. And I was soooo not okay with that.

But then things started happening just a couple short chapters in that got the ball rolling into a strong, fast-paced plot that kept me on my toes. Normally fantasy has a bit of an underlying mystery in them, but this was so much more than the average. This book, (a debut!!!) was an excellent mystery wrapped in a fantasy with so many fine points of intrigue that I couldn't always puzzle out the endgame, which is not the norm, and I LOVED it!! I was constantly trying to weasel out and guess ahead, and I was right on some things, but some others were totally the opposite!

And besides writing an engaging plot, a well hidden mystery, and non-stop action, this debuting author also managed to create characters fully formed that you can truly care about. I loved the entire cast, not even excluding the riff-raff characters outside the walls of Achlev. I enjoyed them as well :D And if that's not enough, this new author was even skilled enough to punch me in the feels a few times, which I TOTALLY didn't see coming! I could never have predicted becoming so attached to these people, and that things would happen to them that could make me hurt! D: This whole combination of good stuff in a debut is what I live & breathe books for! It's often these debuts that are the best found gems for the entire reading year for me <3

Not to say there weren't still some minor issues I found with the story, but they weren't major enough to keep me from loving this book & eagerly awaiting the next one!! Too bad that won't be until next year -_-

But let's discuss them anyway, shall we?

While the storyline is completely engaging, it was kind of a narrow world where everything takes place in only two kingdoms. We get a brief mention of a couple others by name in passing, but nothing much else is said about them, not even their locations as opposed to the two that this story centers around. And we don't get a map to satisfy my curiosities about them. I expect we get more of the world fleshed out and brought to the forefront in the following books, or at least I hope we do. If not, I'll be disappointed we keep this narrow world filter =/

This goddess everyone worships: the Empyrea. I found the introduction of this deity very hazy. She's just mentioned off-handedly in the beginning, but we learn nothing really about her or anything. At a couple points throughout the book though we get a few bread crumbs, as well as learning that there are actually some other deities. I'd like to see all of this more developed in the next book as well. It lends a lot to the storyline, the moral drive of the characters, etc. but it needs to be more tangible in details to give it more depth and strength to back the story more.

We also get the Tribunal, which by the end we have it all figured out, but in the beginning it's role/foundations of it were a little sketchy. But we get another ruling body mentioned, the Assembly, that we really get no info on. Just more vagaries thrown out in passing context. Only really that it fell apart sometime in the past. I'm assuming, again, that this will be more closely addressed in the next book?

Now I really loved Aurelia, more than I thought I would, lol. I thought she was going to be the typical special snowflake with abilities, and stubbornness/ego to boot, which I just really can't stand in my MCs. So I was pleasantly surprised when she turned out not to be any of those things. She was a very strong, capable, intelligent girl with courage when she needed it most to protect the ones she loved. She really grows into her role as a mage, as a friend, a princess, and a leader. There were a couple instances though where she majorly derped, and these incidents just felt a tad out of character for her:

Again, it's likely all of these things will be resolved in the next books *fingers crossed* But all that aside, this is an excellent book to read and highly recommend it if you love fantasy with a nice heavy dose of intrigue/mystery, characters you can get attached to and punch you in the feels from time to time :) I seriously can't wait to see where the next book takes us and wish it came out this year!!
Profile Image for Rachel Rowell.
145 reviews39 followers
April 19, 2022
This is one of those books that starts out a little annoying and definitely gets better as it goes along. A little too predictable for me, but the last half was solid.

I didn’t care for Aurelia much and wasn’t sold on the chemistry between her and Zan...one minute she’s angry at him for stealing her horse, next minute she’s grudgingly going along with his magic plans for the sake of the kingdom, and the minute after that she’s desperate for his approval - with no buildup between them other than a Love Hypothesis-style fake kiss.

The magic system was unique, and Aurelia seeing ghosts was a vivid touch. Also enjoyed the relationship between Aurelia and her little brother.

I have book 2 so I’ll probably check it out, but I don’t foresee this series being one for the hardcover shelf :)
Profile Image for Taylor.
201 reviews17 followers
March 22, 2019
I really liked Bloodleaf, but unfortunately I ultimately didn't love it as much as I was hoping to. Despite the fact that this book didn't completely live up to my expectations, I'll definitely be continuing with the series. :)

My Rating / Score: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars on Goodreads' rating system. 7 out of 10 on my own personal scoring system.
Profile Image for Heather ~*dread mushrooms*~.
Author 19 books488 followers
July 1, 2021
It's really hard for me to get into fantasy of any kind—the adult books are too dense and lack a human connection, and the YA ones are often too flimsy. Either way, I struggle to care about the world presented for my enjoyment.

I might not have picked up Bloodleaf except that the cover was so pretty, it was only $5, and when I opened it to the first page, I discovered it wasn't written in first person present. PHEW. When I started reading, I struggled a little to make sense of the world (that's often the case), but I was enjoying the writing and the characters, so I didn't care.

I ended up thinking the worldbuilding was well-done. Aurelia was a prickly sort of heroine, which I LOVED. The romance was satisfying but not overwhelming, the plot was intricate, and Aurelia's journey learning magic was heartbreaking at times. So much pain in this book. I loved it. I plan on hunting down the sequel immediately.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,508 reviews853 followers
April 12, 2019
Soooooo...this started pretty well but as the book progressed my interest diminished. I found the story pretty predictable and the characters fairly shallow. The premise for the book was more exciting than the story itself.
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews345 followers
January 10, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Nathalie DeFelice

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith is a promising fantasy about a princess who has run away from her homeland after an attempt to assassinate her goes wrong. Aurelia is a princess who sees ghosts and has a magic to her forbidden within her kingdom, one who hates her simply for who she is. Managing to escape death, she hides herself in a new kingdom, making new friendships, and developing the magic that she couldn’t cultivate before, along with a bit of a romance blooming between her and a mysterious stranger. However, the ghosts that haunt Aurelia are showing her that there is a treacherous plot afoot, and only she can stop it.

This was a story that I started twice. I originally started this story around a month and a half ago and stopped because it hadn’t captivated me. I gave it another chance and pushed through that feeling and found myself in an interesting, if underdeveloped world full of magic and mayhem. This would have been an enchanting story if descriptions would have been a little more developed and fleshed out. The characters definitely needed more development, and there are relationships that I would have loved to explore further. I want to be able to feel and care about a character, and this story just didn’t get me there.

Parts of the plot really pulled me into the story, and those were the parts that I loved. It’s funny, because I’ve noticed quite a few reviewers didn’t like Aurelia as a character, but as she is a teenage girl having to make quick decisions, she’s an excellent representation of her age. It’s not that she’s purposefully being stupid or naive, her quick thinking and not understanding of her power leads to some unfortunate consequences. I think that is very realistic for this story. Parts of the story were very gorish, and I enjoyed that aspect of it, because it made sense to the story. There’s a lot of not nice things happening, so naturally, they should be included in the story.

A character that I would have loved to see more in this story was of Simon. He’s a very sage-y character that is mentioned quite a bit and I think that readers would also love to see more of. There’s a quality to him that I would have loved to see play more within the story. Especially with all of the magic involved. Kellan is another character that I feel readers did not have the opportunity to become connected to, on purpose or accident I’m not for certain but I really wanted to know more about him.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about the romance. There are parts in the book where I loved it and other moments where I think we could have done without it. Again, a little more development on this front is needed and I think we’d have an excellent relationship. Though I will admit I found it a little trope-ish and predictable, I’m still a sucker for a romance and that’s not going away any time soon. Development though, development is the key word for this book. If it had a little more time, I can only imagine how amazing it can become.

Despite that, this has the making of an excellent novel. The idea behind is very interesting, and the tidbits that allowed readers to make the connection to The Goose Girl fairytale by the Brothers Grimm was fun and very cleverly written into the story. It’s one of my favourites, and I feel like it doesn’t get re-told too often. I think the last time I read The Goose Girl was the series written by Shannon Hale, which I absolutely adored.

The rating that I give to Bloodleaf would be 7/10 because it was a little hard to get pulled into the story, and there are just quite a few things that need to be hashed out a tad bit more to get them where they need to be. Easy for me to say when I’m not the one who spent all the time writing it, but here’s the thing, I really want to love it. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Crystal Smith, because I can see how she can captivate me and I would love to see that. If not in Bloodleaf, in one of her future stories.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
638 reviews144 followers
May 18, 2021
I appear to be on a roll. What do we have here but yet another book I am FURIOUS I let sit idle for a year. This was exactly the fantasy I needed after reading some real flops, and it delivered.

Full review at A Book Shrew

I must start with the writing, the story it crafted, and how freaking incredible it all was. I think this was a retelling of The Goose Girl with ghosts. I had never heard of The Goose Girl before so I can't say how it translates, but I loved this iteration anyway. The writing style just felt so good and familiar. Almost like coming home, and I love when books do that. The plot itself was downright phenomenal. An absolute rollercoaster from start to finish. There is very little time to cling to some sense of peace before some new revelation or even unfolds to make me ferociously turn the page, desperate to know what happens. There is so much bad that stacks up that you are in disbelief and outrage on behalf of Aurelia for much of the book.

And as far as Aurelia aka Elodie went, she is a great character. I loved her arc and character development so very much. From the events that cast her out of the palace to building upon her blood magic and trying to help save a world that is not hers, she came into her own. So much adversity is dropped on her, and I really enjoyed how she handled all of it. I had so many "Yasss, Queen" moments, and all it proved to me was that this book was good.

I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot here, but the world building and magic system here were also great. The city of Achlev alone was a real star in this book. I could not get enough of the magic and lore behind the wall that keeps the city save from invasion. The three gates, the need for special permission to enter—all of it felt so fun! The concept of the titular plant was really cool too. Bloodleaf is a poisonous plant that blooms where blood has been spilled, but it grows powerful flowers when blood is spilled a second time. I also really liked the back story of the three siblings and mages. How they fit into the creation of the world we see in this book and how they were the founders of the three types of magic, so to speak. Overall, it was easy to follow and certain people were very easy to hate.

I can't finish this review without speaking of the lush romance. Much like the plot, the love interests in here took me for a ride. It felt rather unpredictable in that respect, and I enjoyed it immensely because of that. At first I thought we were getting a love triangle. Then I thought the actual love interest was weird. Now it's all I want and I have a ship happily out to sea.

When I finished this book, I was so delighted. That happiness lasted all five minutes before devastation took over. Better know as reading the summary for the second book. I am over halfway through that book now, and I can promise you it is even better than Bloodleaf.
Profile Image for Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard.
1,146 reviews247 followers
March 23, 2020
This had a very slow meh start for me that I debated reading past the first 50 pages but I'm glad I pushed through it. I love that YA is suddenly using the crap out of blood magic. I wanted just more of the magic itself though I did enjoy all the political maneuvering and the chase. The characters were okay. Would I spend $26.99 CAD on the book? No. I wouldn't have touched this if my Library didn't have the book and Audible had the audiobook as a daily deal. But I'll definitely read the sequel via the library.
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