Blood, She Read is the debut novel of author Sara Hubbard. It is a character driven tale of friendship and first love, which involves murder, magic, deceit, jealousy and betrayal.
In the novel, Petra Maras is a witch from a long line of witches. She and her mother are on the run from her father who is a criminal. They have just moved into her mother’s childhood home in the town of Paradise, Nova Scotia. In addition to being a witch, Petra is also a psychic and can read people, seeing into their past and future. She reluctantly agrees to help the police with their investigation into the murder of a local girl, Josie, by attempting to use her gift to read an object stained with the victim’s blood.
Although she hasn’t identified any individual in her reading, suspicion falls on Finn, one of the boys at school. This does not go down well with Finn’s brother Tommy, who is openly hostile towards her. At the same time Dylan, who was close to Josie, befriends Petra. Finn, however, is drawn to Petra and asks her out. At first Petra resists, as she knows that Finn is a murder suspect, and also because Dylan does not approve of him. However, they do date but Petra cannot read Finn and she cannot be sure if he is as innocent as he seems. Also Petra realises that Finn is hiding secrets from her and begins to question his motives and whether he is the murderer after all.
The tale begins to hot up and contains scenes of attempted blackmail, theft and violence against Petra. These scenes are peppered with magic potions and spells cast by Petra and Gina, which do not always work according to plan! There is also a secondary romance involving Gina. After a number of surprising plot twists, which I did not see coming, the tale resolves in a satisfying HEA.
Petra has experienced a lot of unpleasantness in her life. This has left her strong, as she is used to dealing with adversity, but also vulnerable, as she finds it hard to trust. She is ashamed of her powerful magic and aches to be normal, but is shunned by her classmates, who know that she is from a family of witches. Petra is overjoyed when Dylan becomes her friend and begins to trust him and share her past. She cannot believe it when Finn, the school hunk claims that he is attracted to her. She fears that he has an ulterior motive or it is only because, as a murder suspect, he is being shunned by others and has no one else to turn to.
The characters of the three young men in the book play a big role in Petra’s life and in the development of the plot. Dylan, who befriends Petra, is a misfit. He was close friends with Josie and wants to find her murderer, suspecting Finn. Finn is an attractive and enigmatic figure and it is easy to see how Petra is drawn to him. He seems genuinely attracted to her but is harbouring secrets. Tommy, Finn’s brother, is aggressive towards her and the reader is left to wonder whether he is protecting Finn, has something to hide or if he is the murderer. I found myself chuckling at the teenage relationships in this book as it not only made me remember the positive feelings of first love, but also how uncomfortable they can make you feel!
Gina, Petra’s mother is volatile. Petra and Gina do not have a typical mother/daughter relationship and often Petra acts more like the adult than Gina does. Gina’s romance in the novel is, in typical Gina style, unconventional! The way the relationship between Petra and Gina develops is one of the central themes to the book and I ended up liking Gina a lot more at the end. Other characters include Henry the police officer, who plays a key role throughout the book and Sebastian, a demon, who, bound in service to Petra’s father, makes a brief but noteworthy appearance.
Overall I found the novel to be an engaging read with funny and romantic moments with a lot of suspense. Although the end was satisfying, it also left scope for the author to develop future novels. I would like to find out what happens to some of the other characters, especially Tommy and Sebastian, as well as future adventures of Petra and Finn. I would recommend this book for young adults or adults who like sweet paranormal romance with a strong plot and characterisations, containing humour and a HEA.
This novel was given to me by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Author’s website http://www.sara-hubbard.com
Publisher’s website http://www.etopia-press.net
Cover art by kind permission of Eithne Ni Anluaine