About the book
Liam never knew who his father was. The town of Derry had always assumed that he was the bastard of a protestant — his mother never spoke of him, and Liam assumed he was dead. But when the war between the fallen and the fey began to heat up, Liam and his family are pulled into a conflict that they didn’t know existed.
A centuries old conflict between supernatural forces seems to mirror the political divisions in 1970’s era Ireland, and Liam is thrown headlong into both conflicts! Only the direct intervention of Liam’s real father, and a secret catholic order dedicated to fighting “The Fallen” can save Liam… from the mundane and supernatural forces around him, and from the darkness that lurks within him.
I haven’t been very quiet about how much I loved this book. I’ve said several times that Of Blood and Honey has been one of my favorite reads of 2012. Because of that, this review is probably pretty pointless. I’ve already advertised my Stina Leicht love, so why do I need to review the book? I don’t know the answer. I guess I’m reviewing it out of habit.
Before I continue with my review, I should say something I’ve said about a hundred times before. All you really need to do is say, “This book is based on Irish (mythology/culture/history/etc)” and I’m going to read it no matter what and I’ll probably enjoy it on some level. Take that for what it’s worth.
Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let me continue with my review.
Of Blood and Honey is a shockingly raw, emotionally compelling and historically fascinating coming-of-age tale of young Liam, a young man stuck in Northern Ireland during a very volatile period of Ireland’s war in the 1970’s. Most people know something about Ireland’s war. They know the basic politics and religious influences behind it, but they don’t know the details. It’s in those details that Leicht shines. Of Blood and Honey showcases how in depth historical research can really affect a book. Leicht has all the cultural nuances down, from typical Irish phraseology to important historical facts and events that are directly applicable to the time the book takes place in. Plenty will surprise you, as it did me. Aside from that, Leicht also weaves in a generous dollop of Irish mythology but manages to do it so subtly that the fantasy elements of the book seem natural and effortless.
Of Blood and Honey is a dark novel, almost depressing due to Liam’s (understandable) but nearly continuous inner torment. That torment coupled with a very tragic war really colors the mood of the whole novel, and really defines much of what Liam goes through. In fact, I could describe with the word “raw” perfectly. The feelings, emotions and trials are so uncensored, coupled with some scrupulous detail and incredible historical accuracy makes Of Blood and Honey one of those novels that you don’t read, you live through.
Perhaps the only mar on an otherwise amazing novel is the slightly stereotypical role the Catholic Church plays in the events relating to the fey. For example, the priests (except one) are overly angry, overly powerful and slightly mysterious individuals hell bent on eliminating anything magical due to its obvious connection to evil. In a novel so shockingly fresh and unique, these priests stood out like a sore thumb. Granted, their role in the book is fairly minimal, but their presence is felt and I did mourn the fact that they didn’t seem to reach the quality the rest of the book attained.
Despite that one small flaw, the novel itself shines, in no small part due to Leicht’s confident prose. Of Blood and Honey falls into a natural rhythm very quickly and the events proceed at a rapid clip. Before you know it, you’re sucked into the life of Liam and events will pull you under until Liam’s world becomes your world. That’s quite an incredible feat for a debut author to attain. Leicht has real talent and Of Blood and Honey is an incredibly notable release because of it.
I absolutely loved this book. Of Blood and Honey is one of those fantasy books that could also easily be enjoyed by fans of historical fiction as well. The fantasy elements, while obvious, are fairly subtle which could allow this to be a good crossover novel for fiction fans who are a little adventurous. Leicht’s writing is, quite honestly, stunning. The meticulous historical research mixed with an emotionally compelling plot work hand in hand to make this book unforgettable.
At the end of the day, that’s what Of Blood and Honey is: Unforgettable.