Author: Aurora Whittet
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Length: 400 pages
Werewolf princess Ashling Boru's eighteenth birthday is only a year away, which means that she only has twelve months before she is claimed and fulfills her prophecy to unite the packs and lead her people. Her father decrees that her four suitors must fight in the Bloodrealms, the werewolves' ancient underground fighting world, and the winner will have King Boru's choice to win Ashling's hand. The wolf laws are rigid and barbaric, and Ashling's illicit love for Grey, if discovered, will mean his death. But when Ashling and Grey get trapped in the blood-soaked depths of the Bloodrealms, they find ancient horrors far greater than Ashling's father's rule.
With betrayal around every corner and old nemeses set to destroy Ashling, she is more divided than ever between the destiny she didn't choose and the love that she did. To make matters worse, her decision will not only set the course of her future, but the future of her entire race.
Bloodrealms is the second novel in Whittet’s Bloodmark saga.
Protagonist: Ashling Boru is wild, untamed, and fierce but she's still held back by the laws of the wolves and doesn't have a say in who she is to spend the rest of her life with. So I would say that I liked Ashling in the first book, but I absolutely loved her in this book. Her defiance and passion, mixed with a few flaws here and there, all held together by her determined loyalty made Ashling a brilliant narrator and protagonist. Her development in this installment is really geared toward who she is, both to those she loves and concerning the prophecy about her. While maybe slow in some part, it's easy to see her grow and change over the course of the book. I loved watching her defy convention and stand up for herself and her own beliefs more and more over the course of the story and grow into the heroine and leader that she needs to be to unite the wolf packs against the evils of the world.
Romance: So I wasn't a huge fan of the romance in the first installment of this series, it was chock full of insta-love and really lacked a good amount of complexity other than the whole hunter/hunted forbidden love thing. In this book however, there is so much more romance going around and it's all done masterfully. In this book Ashling has three main love interests, first there's Grey, the boy she fell in love within an instant, but whose shared love is really and truly earned by the start of this book, even if his declarations are a bit grandiose, over the top, and way too poetic for a kid like him to use. Then there's Brychan, Ashling's betrothed and I'd say if they end up together I wouldn't be too outraged, Brychan's a sweet guy, maybe a bit too cocky at times, but really seems to genuinely care for Ashling. Finally there's Channing, Ashling's third suitor and while he is also a sweet guy, he is a bit shallow and really loves the idea of Ashling more than who she is, but still a great guy in the end. The romance in the book is done very well, I never felt like I couldn't take the suitors other than Grey seriously and I loved how it wove through the storyline and plot so well.
World-Building: There is so much world-building in this installment. There is still so much to learn but this book really delves into not only character back stories and tales of the past that may cause strife later in the story, but really set up a great many things for the next installment in this saga. My favorite thing though may have been the pack traditions, laws and, lifestyle that we learned about. Not that I agreed with any of it, in fact I found it barbaric, archaic, and utterly sexist, but it was those things that really brought it to life and drove my passion for this book. I was excited with every little piece of information we learned. Don't even get me started on the actual Bloodrealms though. It's something you should experience when you read the book, but I will say this, I was not prepared for the primal, gory, and extremely violent setting that we get. Think underground Olympic Colosseum.
Predictability: So in the beginning I thought I had this book pegged, sure I had my suspicions every once in a while, but for the most part I thought I had at least a vague understanding of how this story would go, and for quite a while I was right. Then, it was the beginning of the end. I'm not kidding you, at the beginning of what I would classify this book's ending all my predictions went out the window. There were so many twists and the sheer organized chaos of it was glorious. I never knew quite what was going to happen and I was really surprised to see how much the author was able to truly cram into so few pages. It's pretty mind blowing.
Ending: So yeah, like I said the ending was crazy. The final confrontation was action packed and the author didn't skimp on the amount of detail for the battles with the larger antagonists of this installment. It was hard to truly keep up with the action though, but boy was it entertaining. In the cool down period following the battle, tensions were high as this book wound down. There's a bit of a cliffhanger and I'm really interested to see if this is going to be a trilogy or if the author has plans to expand the series beyond three books, because right now, given the size of the next installment, Bloodmoon, I could easily see most if not all of the loose ends being tied up.
I honestly didn't expect this going into the book. While I stand by my four star rating for the first book, I'll be the first to admit that it had quite a few flaws. However, this is every single thing that I wanted out of a sequel to Bloodmark and so very much more. I'm practically kicking myself for not starting it sooner, and will probably read the next installment as soon as I am physically able to.