Review of ‘The Blood Trials’

The Blood Trials blends fantasy and science fiction in this action-packed debut that fights misogyny and racism.


The Blood Trials
N.E. Davenport
Harper Voyager

The Blood Trials is an engaging novel from beginning to end. However, some bumps in the road mostly have to do with the storytelling and the story’s pacing. It’s not a bad story. It focuses on Ikenna and everything she’s going through, the misogyny she faces, and the racism she meets. But there’s more to it than that.

The story picks up with Ikenna, who is still grieving the loss of her grandfather, who was her number one advocate who pushed her in ways no one else could and also helped her harness her blood magic. What you need to know here is that blood magic is a gift that belongs to the enemy. There’s an I blood emperor who makes her world complicated. They are her enemy, but they are also her blood. However, she has not chosen to align herself with them. Instead, she wants to use her blood gifts to take them down.

Pacing & Characterization

Ikenna has a lot of rage and anger. But the reader understands why and can connect to it. From the beginning, we see what she goes through, the racism she faces daily, and the misogyny. Those compelling opening pages set up a strong foundation for the story.

Ikenna is a mess in the beginning, but when her grandfather’s death is revealed to have been an assassination, her anger and grief become her drive to enter the Praetorian Trials, “a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive.” Here, she has to fight for her life against the racism and sexism that filter the trials.

The trials are high-tension scenes but drag the plot a little. This is because Davenport wanted to highlight how the hazing reflects racism and sexism by pushing Ikenna to the limit. However, it does seem to be a long and drawn-out process. Nevertheless, it does seem realistic, it does fit within the context of the narrative that there is someone out to get Ikenna and kill her, but the length and the somewhat repetitive nature of the deadly hazing just became too much at times.

So again, it’s a little slow-paced. I will say it does drag a little bit. But, still, it’s worth it in the end because you’re seeing how passionate Ikenna is, how eager she is, how forthcoming she is, and how intelligent she is and quick to respond to events. But you also see the dynamics that she has with her teammates. We see how everyone is coming to respect her. Even the racist and sexist ones are coming to respect her and regard her in a way they didn’t before.

Final Thoughts

The Blood Trials is a nice blend of that sci-fi and fantasy aspect that is hard to capture when you cut when it comes to storytelling. The sci-fi element here gives the story a strong foundation, but the added blood magic provides the story with an edge. So really, I’m excited to see this next book and see what’s going to happen because that ending was incredibly badass.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Product Details:

Pub Date: April 5, 2022Page Count: 464ppAge Range: 16 & Over
ISBN: 978-0-0630-5848-4Publisher: Harper VoyagerList Price: $27.99

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