3 out of 4 stars
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Blood and Magnolias by Morgan Summerfield is a work fiction that takes readers on a whirlwind ride rife with heartbreak, betrayal, murder, voodoo, and intrigue. The story possesses elements of romance, family drama, alternative lifestyles, mysticism, and suspense.
After watching her home burn in flames, seeing her father take his last breath, and having her entire childhood engulfed in the blink of an eye, Adrean found a way to wade through life without holding onto negative emotions. That being said, the traumatic events from her past, naivety, and trusting nature made her vulnerable to those with devious intentions. As an adult, she finds herself in an abusive relationship with a controlling man who treats her like a child. Considering divorce and a much-needed distraction, Adrean soon ends up in the wrong company when she meets a charming duo with hidden agendas. Introducing her to the luxuries and pleasures their world has to offer, the two lure her into the fast life. Drawing Adrean deeper into their trap under the guise of newly found friendship, will Adrean ever discover their lies and evil intentions before it’s too late, or will she pay the ultimate price? What are the forces and motives behind the duo? Also, what dark secrets does her husband hold, and will she ever gain enough strength and courage to finally leave him?
Within the first few pages, I was hooked by the author’s compelling writing style, evocative descriptions, and the intense opening scene. Over time, the characters proved to not only be diverse but also convincing and relatable, especially the lead character, Adrean. Though she initially comes off as weak and easily manipulated, the unfolding events in the narrative inspire her growth—her thought process evolves, and she gradually begins shaping her own world. This provided a satisfying character development and surprising character arc in my opinion. When it came to some of the other characters (save for those who got close to Adrean), they were merely painted as either good or evil without any redeeming qualities, .e.g. Courtland (those he controlled) and Abriel (Courtland’s father). In addition, the author’s overall depiction of the rich and poor and their contrasting lifestyles and attitudes came across as stereotypical and one-dimensional.
The characters relationship dynamics were interesting to read, and their conflicting emotions made them feel more palpable. The backstories were skillfully revealed; they not only added depth to the characters but also to the overall narrative. The scene building and detailed descriptions of the setting and places visited were done masterfully—though I’ve never been to Louisiana or New Orleans physically, I felt that the narrative transported me there.
Parts of the story I enjoyed most were the beginning and end. The beginning because it revealed the complexities of Adrean and Ben’s marriage and relationship. The ending because it revealed an exciting and explosive climax that sent my head spinning with its intensity, drama (action), numerous revelations, and unexpected twist and turns.
My least favorite aspects of the book are that there were too much descriptions at times. For example, the author painstakingly goes through the trouble of describing in detail all of the Melville’s family members rooms, which weren’t integral to the story. Those details just seemed to consume space and slow down the pace. Another was the constant use of French sentences, whose meanings weren’t always obvious. Having to constantly refer to the translation table at the back was a little distracting and would take readers out of the story. Though the book appeared to be professionally edited, I noted a little more than a handful of lingering errors.
Though not highly descriptive, the narrative does include mature content and a few expletives. In my opinion, the book would be most suitable for adults and older teens (sixteen plus). I would recommend this to those who overall enjoy well-written novels that mix multiple genres and contain mysticism and suspense. Factoring everything, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Blood and Magnolias
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