Review: Blood Heir

Review: Blood Heir

Blood Heir (Blood Heir Trilogy #1) by Amélie Wen Zhao

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My Rating


Official synopsis

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the conman she must trust to clear her name for her father's murder. 

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied abilities to control the world around them are unnatural--dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, might be the most monstrous of them all. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls. 

But when Ana's father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered: Ana is the one framed as his killer. To save herself, she must flee the safety of the palace and enter a land that hunts her and her kind. And to clear her name, she must find her father's murderer on her own. Yet, what Ana finds is far worse than she ever imagined. A greater conspiracy is at work in Cyrilia, one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help her get to its rotten core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans--though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.


When I started this book, I had no idea that it had essentially been blacklisted. I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book because as a girl with a Russian bloodline/heritage, I was obsessed with the story of Princess Anastasia Romanova growing up. Put her in a slightly inspired by/loosely based fantasy storyline filled with powers, on a quest for vengeance and truth and I was sold - I needed to read this. I get that we live in a world and a time where someone, somewhere, can be offended by everything and anything. Anything and everything can be controversial and I think we’ve come to a place where we just have to, unfortunately, accept that. But this review is strictly my own takeaway from this book.

After reading it, I honestly don’t see where all the uproar is coming from. Yes, there are indentured servants who are auctioned off to the highest bidder - but we are constantly told and reminded that this is WRONG. There isn’t ever a moment where it’s portrayed to be an acceptable, okay thing. We, as readers, are repeatedly told that it is horrific and inhumane for these people with affinities to be sold off to the highest bidder for the exclusive use of their powers to their own benefit. In fact, there is an entire Revolution brewing against it, a revolution that the heroine, unknowingly at first, comes to be a part of. We know it’s wrong, she knows its wrong, the greedy assholes buying these affinities know it’s wrong too, which is why they wear masks to cover their faces and hide their identities. Is it meant to cause some sort of feeling of revulsion at how horrible these people are? Probably. And it does that. Some are even pitted against each other, in a survival of the fittest way, kind of like how the Gladiators did back then. This plot point was only meant to show what’s wrong with the Empire and expose the greed and unjustness of a broken system. I don’t need to be angry at a plot point in a book in order to validate my own beliefs against it.

Moving on to the rest of the book, it was an enjoyable read. I felt like I was on the journey through blood, sweat, and tears with Ana and Ramson. Ramson was the surprising comedic relief I didn’t expect and he was definitely my favorite character throughout the entire story. I admired his street-smarts and ruthlessness and later on, I admired him for growing so exponentially as a character. I wish the romance wasn’t so underwhelming, but I’ll take what I can get. Ana had less character growth for me. Personally, I thought she stayed essentially the same. On a quest for information and revenge, she had a very linear path to the ending, despite all of the obstacles and surprises that came her way, and I thought she achieved everything she set out to achieve. I didn’t love her as much as I hoped, in fact, I was almost indifferent to her. Ramson is what made her more appealing in my eyes, but again, I was hoping for more with her. She had all this power, so much bloodlust, and yet she continued to use her powers with little to no consequence even though she knew it wasn’t always the right thing to do. I’m sure the next book (if we actually get to read it), will give her more room to grow into the woman/empress we all hope she’ll be.

This is a random note but I loved the mentions of ptichye molokos as they were my favorite sweets growing up. Brownie points for making my mouth water every time it was mentioned in this. Also, one nit-picky note on Russian surnames names is that they’re almost always gender-based - Anastacya Mikhailov should actually be Mikhailova. And while I get this takes place in a fantasy/made-up Cyrilian Empire and not necessarily a Russian one, there are too many Russian references for my brain not to connect a Cyrilian Empire to a Russian Empire, and so, “Mikhailov” was one of the things nagging me throughout.

I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

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