This is a spoiler-free review.
I recently came to a realization when it comes to my favourite tropes: the found family trope will always come first. For once, I am actually able to choose my number one favourite. So, as you can imagine, when I came across The Black Veins by Ashia Monet on Twitter one day and saw it described as having a very strong found family element, I immediately decided I needed to read this novel. And I can tell you right now: it was a really fun and fast-paced reading experience which I enjoyed immensely. With strong and unique characters, a magical road-trip full of obstacles and discoveries and amazing character development throughout the 393 pages, The Black Veins completely took me by surprise, in the best way possible.
A huge thank you to CW @ The Quiet Pond and Ashia Monet for sending me a free e-ARC of this novel, and allowing me to take part in this blog tour. This did not affect my opinion of this book and the content of my review in any way.
In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
Links for The Black Veins:
The Black Veins starts as the story of Blythe Fulton, a young magician whose magic has not manifested yet despite her being a Guardian. She lives with her parents, and her twin sisters, a family she loves very much. One day, her family gets kidnapped right in front of her eyes, and she goes on a road trip to rescue them. With this road trip, Blythe, who has one destination in mind and who is determined to get there, encounters new people, discovers secrets and a lot about herself too.
First, I would like to say I highly appreciated the content warnings at the beginning of the novel. I think it’s truly important for more and more authors to do this.
Something that really amazed me at the beginning is how the writing shows the strong family ties between the Fultons. The build-up of these bonds was beautiful and refreshing to see. It isn’t something I often read about in such details, and it worked wonderfully for the rest of the story, as it established exactly why Blythe would go to such lengths to get her family back. At no point did I think it was unrealistic. Ashia Monet’s writing is superb at creating fluid and realistic dialogue for the characters, while keeping all of their voices unique. Not one character is the same and keeping track of who is talking is seamless. As I was reading, I kept trying to figure out how to best describe the writing and I would say that it has a certain edge to it. It is absolutely beautiful in the descriptions to build a particular atmosphere and setting the emotional tone of the moment, but it can also be very direct when it is necessary to get a point across. It flows amazingly well in the pacing. A few pop culture references are sprinkled in there, in places where they make sense; and there are few enough of them to keep everything fluid and light.
Blythe is a really interesting main character. She’s a 16-year-old, who actually appears as a 16-year-old would. Some of her reactions reminded me so much of my 16-year-old self and I loved this realism when it came to her character. This is such a strong point in this novel: the teenagers are teenagers. They might make wrong choices, but it all fits perfectly with the story and their characters. They also all react differently to each other, some of them like Daniel have more affinity with other characters in the group for example. After all, you don’t get along with absolutely everyone you meet in real life and especially from the start. We have a large cast of characters in this novel, and there are quite a few slower paced moments in the novel that allow them to express themselves and therefore build their characters. Despite the fact that, because we all meet them at different points in the story it feels that some of them could have benefitted from more story time, we get a very good idea of who they are. Their introductions are all different and very on point with their characterization. And in the end, we have a very strong found family and developed friendships within it. Sometimes, I had trouble seeing why these teens would put themselves in danger for a complete stranger, but it worked out perfectly in the end. The fact that there was no romance arc was perfect for the story; it was completely realistic with the circumstances the characters are in. There is some flirting here and there, but it isn’t the focus of the story at all. With the situation they are in, it makes sense the characters would not focus on that. And the character development was on point, all the characters end this novel in a different place they were in at the start. It was beautiful.
For the first half of The Black Veins, the world building was paced really well. All the information is not given to us at the start, which allows us to gather more and more information as the story goes on. It builds on previous knowledge caught in the novel, changing details or perceptions at key moments; I kept questioning whatever hints I thought I figured out. I loved the idea of the two governments, and it was a magical setting that was very original with strong themes. I loved how intertwined the magical world was with our world and how it also had technology. However, I was slightly disappointed because it felt like the world-building stopped at one point, and I would have appreciated a bit more development. The anticipation of their final destination was huge, and the pay off fell a bit flat for me. The ending was rushed, and I felt like a bit too much was unfinished in the end. This is obviously a series, so it makes complete sense we don’t get all the answers in the end of the first novel, but I would have loved a few more answers. I can’t wait to discover them in the rest of the series.
The Black Veins is a very strong character-driven novel, with a truly wonderful diverse cast of characters, all with their own voices and stories. With its fast-paced narrative and its unique magical universe, I really loved it. I will absolutely pick up the sequel when it comes out, because I cannot wait to see where the story goes next and to discover more about this world.
A couple of cute notes I took while reading:
- i love jamie with all of my heart please let them be happy
- caspian is my hero???
- the real magic: their phones’ batteries not dying in 2 hours despite them using their phones SO MUCH
About the Author
Ashia Monet is a speculative fiction author whose work almost always includes found families, diverse ensemble casts, the power of friendship, and equal parts humor and drama. Some of her favorite things are The Adventure Zone, Ariana Grande, and the color pink. You can follow her on Twitter @ashiamonet and Instagram @ashiawrites.
Follow along the blog tour and read more about The Black Veins from everyone participating 💗
CW @ The Quiet Pond (Introduction + Review)
Fran @ The Ramblebee (List + Playlist)
Fadwa @ Word Wonders (Review + Aesthetic)
Sage @ sageshelves (Review + Discussion Post [Benefits of No Romantic Arc])
Kate @ Your Tita Kate (Review only)
Vinny @ Artsy Draft (Review + Lockscreen/Wallpapers)
Lili @ Utopia State of Mind (Review + Hand Lettering)
Noémie @ Tempest of Books (Review only)
Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books (Review only)
Surina @ Book Reviews by the Bloggisters (Review + Author Interview)
Saoudia @ Recs From Ur Friend (Review + Quiz [Which Guardian Are You?])
Gretal @ Books and Breadcrumbs (Review + Discussion [No Romantic Arc])
Kate @ Reading Through Infinity (Review + Author Interview)
Vanessa @ The Wolf & Books (Review + Moodboard OR Playlist)
Are you excited for The Black Veins? Is it on your TBR?
What’s your favourite trope in a novel? I’d love to chat in the comments!