Silver in the Blood is YA historical fantasy set in the 1890’s. I’m usually all over that kind of book, but this one was disappointing. I think the premise will bring in a lot of first day readers, especially since one blurb recommended it to fans of Cassandra Clare and Libba Bray. However, while elements each of those authors used are present in this story (time frame/surprise genetic inheritance), the writing doesn’t compare.
Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate . . . or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.
With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.
While this was a promising premise, and there were things I did like about this book, I was distracted by narrative elements that I found frustrating. The book is a dual narrative between the cousins, Dacia and Lou. Of the two, Lou’s character arc is the strongest, and I enjoyed her transformation from uncertain and self conscious to empowered and confident. If Lou’s perspective had been the focus, I think this would have been a stronger book. The real problem for me was the repetition and slow pace that the dual perspectives created. This drag and repetition was especially noticeable because the narrative rotated between formats: letters, journal entries, telegraphs, newspaper notices and traditional story structure. This meant that you could read about Dacia’s feelings or a plot point in two different formats after you had already inferred them from indirect characterization. I didn’t understand the need to read a telegraph telling Lou’s father there was a change of plans when it was obvious there was a change of plans from the action. It would have been much less intrusive to be told that Lou sent another telegram. It felt like the author was overly committed to the formatting and no one pointed out when it slipped into absurdity. The other tiresome element was the decision to keep both girls in the dark about the family secrets until halfway through the book. Within seconds of reading the publisher’s blurb the reader knows the “secret,” so the only thing gained by keeping Dacia and Lou in the dark is frustration. I wish I hadn’t been so distracted by formatting and frustration. I felt like it killed a story that I could have enjoyed otherwise.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.