4 out of 4 stars
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The Kingdom of Omneth was once ruled by the higher magics called the Raej. The slates (humans without magic) used magical tools called pebbles to topple the Raej. Now a new government rules Omneth, where humans possessing higher magic are executed. People skilled in lesser magic and pebble magic can enroll in the academy to train to become officials.
Blood of the Raej is told from the perspective of two characters: Terhese and Jensen. Terhese is an orphan who struggles with pebble magic. She aspires to study pebble making at the academy. Jensen is Terhese’s friend who works as an intern at the academy. An untoward event releases dormant power within Terhese, revealing she has higher magic in her. What will be her fate?
Blood of the Raej by Hayley Rae Johnson is a refreshing fantasy read with a fascinating world-building. Despite it being a completely different world, I found it easy to immerse myself in it. The vividly descriptive prose creates a distinct sense of place without overwhelming the reader. The plot was intriguing, and I did not find it to be predictable.
The author allows the story to develop with minimum exposition maintaining suspense in the book. The magical components and developments in this book were satisfying and entertaining. The concept of pebble pinching magic was really interesting. Pebbles can be pinched to do mundane tasks like washing dishes or for other purposes like fighting. It made the book engrossing, and the chapters passed quickly.
I admired how Terhese believed in herself and worked hard for the academy, despite people looking down on her. She is naïve and trusts too quickly. However, I grew attached to the character and was curious as to what would happen to her. It is not a standalone book, and the character arc is not complete. Hence, it would not be fair to comment on the character development in the book.
Terhese's feelings for her romantic interest, her dynamic with her best friend, and the growing power within her propel the pages toward a cliff-hanger ending that will have readers eagerly anticipating the following book.
On the downside, there is no concept of race or ethnicity in this world. It made what had been a lively reading experience feel a little shallow. I wish there were more information about how the world was under the Raej's reign. If we had the option, I would give it a rating of 3.5 stars. But the book was good enough, and I had a wonderful time reading it. Therefore, I rate Blood of the Raej 4 out of 4 stars.
I found seven grammatical errors that did not hinder my reading experience. There is the use of non-borderline profanities in the book. It also includes a couple of passionate kisses and a make-out scene that is not overly graphic. Drinking is also mentioned in some places.
I would recommend Blood of Raej to teenage girls who love reading books of the fantasy genre.
Blood of the Raej
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