Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clann, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clann. In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron a feral, full-mortal young thief becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it s nothing he can t handle until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters…
Thoughts: Where Philip’s Firebrand was historical fantasy, Bloodstone leaps forward a few hundred years to the modern era, turning it more into an urban fantasy despite the fact that a good half of the novel takes place in a realm that is not the mortal one. (Which is considerably less than Firebrand, so I figure it still counts as urban fantasy.) This is urban fantasy with a greater leaning toward mythology and traditional fantasy elements, however, which makes it stand out from many UF offerings out there.
Exiled to the mortal world, Seth and co are searching for the Bloodstone for Kate, something she can use to tear down the failing Veil that separates this world from the Sithe world. Nobody is particularly happy about this exile or the task they’re set to, but they make efforts, dreading the day they actually find something. Tangled up in the tale now are Finn, a Sithe girl raised as a mortal and unaware of her heritage, and Jed, a mortal boy from a troubled home, giving the story an interesting dynamic that it lacked in the first book of the series. Modern meets traditional, mundane meets fantastic, and worlds collide.
The story is told mostly from Seth’s point of view, with his characteristic wry observations and caustic wit, with jumps to Finn and Jed’s respective points of view, though more often Jed than Finn. The two younger one bring some much-needed perspective to the story, without whom many of the revelations in the book would make little sense and seem to come out of nowhere, but I’ll be honest – I mostly read it for Seth’s point of view. His is a great perspective to read from, so morally ambiguous, a jerk with a heart of gold (though that gold may be a bit tarnished by this point). He’s not someone who always does the right thing. He acts out of self-preservation, frustration, anger, makes stupid mistakes and occasionally revels in them because they were his mistakes to make. His independence and intelligence make him a good character for narrative purposes, his tone and temperament providing much of the entertainment.
The plot is fairly slow-going, and there isn’t much in the way of action awaiting readers. It’s highly character-driven. Characters seem to be Philip’s specialty, really, with each character being wonderfully unique and real and flawed, likable and detestable for dozens of different reasons. You really get the sense that there’s far more to each character, even secondary ones, than just what gets written about, like the events being told are only one small part of their lives.
It does, however, suffer a bit from the way the plot seems to lead in circles quite a bit, with very little happening. They’re looking for the Bloodstone. They don’t know where it is or what it looks like. They argue about it. They go back to looking for it. Rinse and repeat. Ditto Seth’s clashes with Finn, and most of Jed’s interactions that have anything to do with his mother. It’s a bit repetitive, and while that repetition was no doubt there to stress the importance of certain things or how their quest seemed futile and unending, I had grasped that fairly early on and didn’t really need it hammered in over and over again.
Still, a strong continuation to a strong series start in Firebrand, and I know full well that I’m going to be following this series closely and anxiously awaiting the day I can read the third book. Philip creates a different kind of urban fantasy, one with deep and ancient roots that has, nevertheless, grown with the times, and it’s a treat to read. It’s fun, highly entertaining, and I don’t think I can really get enough of Seth’s narration. If you haven’t started reading the Rebel Angels series, you’re missing out.
(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)