Silver in the Blood – Jessica Day George

This book was sent to me by Bloomsbury India in exchange of a fair review

There is no doubt about the fact that the folks at Bloomsbury know their fantasy better than anyone else. After all they were the only ones to pick up the Harry Potter series after so many other publishers rejected it. Although how anyone could not realize the potential of that particular script is a mystery to me.

When I read the title I thought it must be about people who fought vampires – silver=anti-vampire. Needless to say, I was wrong. I received a beautiful hardcover copy and absolutely loved the cover design. It seems to be a simple pencil sketch with a few details picked out in ink and covers the brief beautifully – the wolf, the flowing girl in white and the old world castle, all major elements of the plot.

Dacia and Lou are cousins who grew up in New York and have Romanian mothers. The story begins with both sisters beginning the much-awaited journey to their mothers’ home – for one cousin in disgrace and for the other in trepidation. Dacia is the more exuberant of the two and more prone to getting into trouble. Lou is quiet and extremely shy around people she does not know. However, she is also prone to being dragged into any schemes of Dacia’s making more out of loyalty than any desire for adventure. Though Dacia seems pushy at times, her love for her cousin is the strongest bond that exists in her life and vice versa. This bond is the one that is exploited by the extended Romanian family in a grotesque and extremely terrifying ritual that takes place in the ancestral home to  determine the destinies of the sisters.

It may seem strange that two women who grew up with so much independence and care should be pushed into something utterly alien and scary by their own parents. But one only has to look around and realize that this is a fate of women in India even today and a century ago women in most European countries enjoyed much the same status as women in our country do even today. For example, girls brought up in the carefree and open atmosphere of Himachal may one fine day be whisked off to be married into a small, caste-wars riddled violent village in Bihar by their very own loving and doting parents.

Philosophy apart, the characters of Dacia and Lou are well-etched and sharply focused. What was the surprise package and something I absolutely adored was the rise of the underdog in the most spectacular fashion. It seems to be a most accurate character assessment, as I have observed that the quiet, understated individuals are usually the ones who have the greatest stores of will power.

While the book is classified as Young Adult Fantasy fiction, it is undoubtedly a read for the grown-ups as well. Especially for women. The story has that hidden element of a gothic romance in its fiber that should appeal to all lovers of historical romance. The letters and diary entries that intersperse the prose add a sort of personal note to the whole. The fantasy element although not new, has a twist that definitely is a take that I have not come across before. The characters are all finely etched, especially those of the Dacia and Lou. The author also holds back information about certain events letting the reader guess at what might have been and creating an element of curiosity that keeps one turning the pages.

The one drawback seemed to the the climax of the book. After building up the story to a great height, it appeared as if the author rushed the ending. The climax could definitely have been longer instead of the abruptness with which it approached and then passed by the reader.

A lot of questions are left open, to be dealt with in the next installment of the series. I am definitely looking forward to it, since (spoiler alert) I still have to figure out who is going to be the wing on the good side.


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