An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in an ancient North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.
Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of blood and marrow--a dark and terrible magick that hasn't been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina's long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne--because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye--and it isn't just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa's death or her own.
A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush, ancient North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.
Evalina Grace Killeen is the younger princess of the Queendom of Myre, a land populated by humans, fey, bloodkin, and the subjugated khimaer, formerly Myre's ruling class. Since her magick was declared "marrow and blood," like that of the most powerful, ruthless human queen in Myre's history, Eva has been the subject of fear and isolation by courtiers, citizens, and her queen mother, who has long favored the persuasive magick of the elder princess, Isadore. When Eva reaches her 17th year, the magick-wielding sisters will fight for the sitting monarch's throne, battling to the death for the right to rule. Biracial Eva, who can seem reactive, regards her own magick as a curse and loathes the thought of fratricide, but after she is attacked repeatedly before the battle, she must unlock the secrets of magic and heritage that have haunted her family and her Queendom for years. Debut author Joy's engrossing, North African inspired series opener draws effectively on real-world prejudices to inform her richly created universe's complex history of species-based oppression and imperialism. Ages 12 up.
~Thank you to BookishFirst and the publisher for the ARC!~
A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy was one of my favorite YA books I’ve read this year!
It started slow because it had to describe the rocky relationship between sisters Eva and Isa, but after the introduction of Bacca there was a steady pace. Watching Eva hone her powers under his teaching was awesome, and the world-building was amazing! It felt as big as it should be, with a rich history of past queens and the Great War.
One thing I LOVED about this book was just how strong the protagonist Eva was. She knew where her strengths were and where her weaknesses were, and she never turned into that whiny protagonist I always hate reading in YA.
There were really only two problems I had with the book that caused me to dock off a star.
One was the relationship between Eva and Isa. I felt like it could’ve been done a bit better. Although I love how Joy used flashbacks to show us how the sisters’ relationship fell apart, pretty much whenever Isa showed up she acted like a comical villain. I wanted there to have been more to her besides the same “I’m better than you, little sister” thing over and over.
My second problem was with the plot of the book. By the book’s end there were a few major questions that were never answered, and I think at least one of them should’ve been. It’s great that the book really went into the plot point of one sibling having to kill the other for the queendom, but it went too much into that. For the length this book was, I wanted to know more than just about Eva and Isa, such as more of Bacca and Prince Aketo, not wait until the next book for all of it.
I’ll still read the next book, but I’m hoping the sisters’ relationship will take a huge seat back now that their fighting is (mostly) over!