Where we love, we ruin…
Some families hand down wealth through generations; some hand down wisdom. Some families, whether they want to or not, hand down the secret burdens they carry and the dangerous debts they owe.
Lissa Nevsky's grandmother leaves her a big, empty house, and a legacy of magic: folk magic, old magic, brought with Baba when she fled the Gulag. In the wake of her passing, the Russian community of Toronto will depend on Lissa now, to give them their remedies and be their koldun'ia. But Lissa hasn't had time to learn everything Baba wanted to teach her—let alone the things Baba kept hidden.
Maksim Volkov's birth family is long dead, anything they bestowed on him long turned to dust. What Maksim carries now is a legacy of violence, and he does not have to die to pass it on. When Maksim feels his protective spell fail, he returns to the witch he rescued from the Gulag, only to find his spell has died along with the one who cast it. Without the spell, it is only a matter of time before Maksim's violent nature slips its leash and he infects someone else—if he hasn't done so already.
Nick Kaisaris is just a normal dude who likes to party. He doesn't worry about family drama. He doesn't have any secrets. All he wants is for things to stay like they are right now, tonight: Nick and his best buddy Jonathan, out on the town. Only Nick is on a collision course with Maksim Volkov, and what he takes away from this night is going to crack open Nick's nature until all of his worst self comes to light.
Lissa's legacy of magic might hold the key to Maksim's salvation, if she can unravel it in time. But it's a legacy that comes at a price. And Maksim might not want to be saved…
Human warmth underlies this exciting and furiously paced fable of fur, fangs, and family. Emphasizing intricate family dynamics alongside shape-changing and magic, Humphrey's debut merges victim and victimizer, reality and the occult. Lissa inherits the role of koldun'ia (witch) and is instructed by her grandmother's spirit to aid Maksim, a shape-shifter in Toronto. Maksim is remorseful after accidentally infecting Nick, a college student, with lycanthropy. He begs assistance from Lissa and Augusta, a woman he turned, to find Nick before he fully transforms. While Maksim battles internal demons, Lissa struggles to master her powers and faces family rifts exposed by her stepsister's sudden arrival. Intimately constructed relationships and domestic strife enrich bursts of violence and sensuality. Genre tropes are strengthened by fully realized characters and confident prose. Humphrey dissects the monsters who walk among us and those hiding within our skins with a critical yet understanding eye. This paranormal tale stands out even in its very crowded field.
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Spells of Blood and Kin is a debut novel by Claire Humphrey. Lissa Nevsky just lost her grandmother or Baba (as Lissa called her). Baba was the local koldun’ia (sorcerer) and Lissa is her successor. Lissa has to make the spells (with eggs) for their clients. Maksim knew Baba. Maksim had saved Baba from the Gulag, and, in return, Baba saved him with a spell (one that goes against her teachings/beliefs) which ended when she passed away. Maksim needs Lissa to recreate the spell for him before he gets completely out of control. Maksim has already harmed a person by changing him (he licked Nick Kaisaris). Maksim needs to find Nick before he harms people. Can Lissa find the spell she needs and do it in time to help Maksim? Will Maksim be able to find Nick in time?
This sounded like such a great book, but it turned out to be very boring (I actually started drifting off to sleep a couple of times). You would think with magic it would be an interesting or lively novel. The magic is never fully explained. Why do they need to use eggs for the spells and only during a full moon? What exactly Maksim is (the type of monster as he calls himself) is not fully explained in the novel. We get a little bit, but not a full description. If the author had enlightened the readers (provided details about the characters) it would have improved the story. For the most part the characters are unlikeable. Lissa is just plain boring (and I thought my life was dull). Lissa is uptight, rigid and has no idea how to enjoy life. I thought the writing was awkward/stilted and the pace of the novel was slow. I ended up speed reading through the majority of the book. The ending is just plain odd (makes no sense). The novel is told from the main characters (Lissa, Nick, and Maksim) points-of-view. It goes from one to the next to the next and then starts over. I think it would have helped the story (at least a little bit) if it had just been told in the third person. I’m sorry, but this book was just plain unenjoyable (I dislike saying that about any book, but it is true). I was not taken into this world or engaged in any shape, way, or form. I give Spells of Blood and Kin 1 out of 5 stars. Fair warning that the novel contains violence and alcohol (great quantities of alcohol are consumed by the characters).
I received a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review of the novel. I will always provide a forthright evaluation of a book no matter how I obtained a novel.