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I think if you enjoyed dark paranormal fantasy like Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill, Trueheart by Mel Sterling and Deathless by Catherynne M Valente, you'll enjoy Spells of Blood and Kin.
Lissa's grandmother suddenly dies leaving her to continue to serve as koldunya (witch) in a small Russian enclave in Toronto. Grieving and shocky, Lissa tries her best to honor her gran who still has a tenuous link to her through a magical doll which will answer Lissa's three questions on a full moon, but there is one major problem - one of her Gran's spells died with her, and now the bearer of a violent curse is in desperate need of her help and he has already infected someone else.
Half of this book is about Lissa and her half-sister Stella trying to deal with the situation in present, but another half delves into Maksim Volkov's very long life while his sanity and self-control unravels. Maksim is Kin, a human cursed by violence (it's like werewolf without an ability to change, but with a very volatile character).
Nick, a human Maksim accidentally infected has his own plot arc, and his transformation from a normal carefree guy to someone creepy, dangerous and unhinged is disturbing to witness. The whole book is very atmospheric and spooky with accents and spell-making and its character-driven plot. It's also not flashy with magic at all. All the characters lead normal lives, everyone has jobs and magic is something very practical and uses things which are available in our society.
The narrator did a stellar job bringing Spells of Blood and Kin to life, and I enjoyed this understated dark fantasy very much. It's unusual and refreshing. Recommended.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The main character is a wet blanket and the "kin" are whiny, alcoholic hobo bros with bad tempers. Also, the scenes in which Lissa performs "egg magic" are the aural equivalent of watching paint dry.
0 of 2 people found this review helpful