Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?
She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.
Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.
I received an early copy from the author for review. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
It’s not often I make bold declarations, but when I do, I mean it: The Black Veins by Ashia Monet is going to change YA urban fantasy as we know it.
The story follows Blythe Fulton, a Black teen who is one of the seven Guardians and possesses power great enough to destroy the world. When war brews between two rivalling magic governments and tensions between them are about to spill over, Blythe’s family is kidnapped. Thus, Blythe sets out to save her family – but first, she must enlist the help of six others as powerful as she is: the other Guardians.
There’s so much about The Black Veins that I love: the cast is comprised of queer teens of colour, it’s an urban fantasy filled with magic, it has no romantic arc, and it is the storytelling embodiment of the ‘found family’ trope. However, The Black Veins isn’t simply a mix of alluring traits; The Black Veins is also a story about friendship and how far you would go to save the people you love.
Amazing and memorable characters and friendships
Ask anyone who has read The Black Veins and what their favourite part is, and it’s likely they are going to tell you ‘the characters’ – an answer, in my perception, would be wholly correct. The Black Veins does indeed have a good story, but it is driven and inspired by its cast of characters. I loved every single one of them – and as much as I want to gush about how much I loved every single one of them in great detail, I will refrain from talking too much about them because I think one of the greatest joys of reading The Black Veins was meeting and learning about its characters.
But, what can you expect? You can expect a cast of developed and refreshing characters, most of which are queer teens of colour. You can expect Blythe Fulton, a Black bisexual teen who loves photography, is a bit nerdy, but finds it hard to get close to people. You can expect the other Guardians to win your heart; some of them are cool, some of them are wholesome, some of them will grow on you, and all of them you’ll come to love and empathise with. You can also expect that these characters have magical abilities and that they will use those magical abilities – and it is glorious. Best of all: you can expect friendships that may struggle through the mud but eventually bloom into beautiful and lovely things and how teens from very different worlds and lives come together to form bonds and a family that they never knew they needed.
A story with high-stakes but remains as wholesome as can be
If you asked me to describe The Black Veins, I would say that it is a character-driven story that still holds a compelling plot with great pacing, is high-stakes, but so beautifully wholesome. I loved meeting the wonderful cast of The Black Veins, learning about them and seeing them grow and develop over time, and I loved that the focus on the characters did not hinder or undermine the development of the overarching story. Furthermore, the characters’ journeys are high-stakes – Blythe, especially, embarks on her mission to save her family from magician anarchists and the risk of danger is present at every turn and place. There are some action scenes, the Guardians will use their magic to defend themselves, the price of failure is high, and the story explores how far you’ll go for the people that you love.
And yet, The Black Veins is also so wholesome! Despite the high-stakes (and I have to admit, some parts had me holding my breath), The Black Veins can also be a comforting and lovely read because of its heavy focus on friendship and growth; it’s about coming out of your shell and learning to trust the people who will eventually become your friends, it’s also about the wonderful and tender moments between friends, especially new friends that are just getting to know each other, and it’s about the beauty of platonic friendships and the importance of found family.
The Black Veins is going to change YA urban fantasy
I am a big fan of urban fantasy, and I love seeing how authors integrate fantasy and magical elements in a world that is familiar and operates similarly to ours. The Black Veins takes place in the United States, and the world of magic secretly exists among non-magical humans and beings and is governed by magical governments. If you love worldbuilding that effortlessly integrates with the narrative without heavy exposition, then you’ll enjoy discovering and learning about the world in The Black Veins. I enjoyed the fine details of the worldbuilding, and enjoyed that these light moments of worldbuilding did not curtail the momentum of the story.
Also, how cool is the concept of The Guardians? There are Seven Guardians – a Guardian of Nature, Animals, Time, Death, the Body, the Mind, and Ether – magicians powerful enough to cause widespread destruction and bring the world to its knees. Having grown up with stories like Sailor Moon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Final Fantasy, I love the idea of magic that has its own class and element, so seeing how the Guardians and their powers manifested and were harnessed was so exciting for me. Moreover, despite the destructive power of the Guardians – their otherwise your everyday teens with teenage concerns, and that’s just so cool.
MY CONCLUSION: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
I am so honoured to have read this early, and also grateful to host the blog tour for this spectacular book. The Black Veins by Ashia Monet is going to change YA urban fantasy as we know it. Its power, y’all. You are not ready.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: When the family of a Guardian, one of the most powerful magicians in the world, is kidnapped, she sets out on a roadtrip to recruit the other six guardians and save her family.
Perfect for: readers who love urban fantasy; readers who love the found family trope; readers who enjoy books that don’t have a romance; readers who love books with big casts (and are developed!)
Think twice if: you’re not a fan of fantasy/urban fantasy
Genre: young adult, urban fantasy
Trigger/content warning: anxiety discussion, mild bloodshed in fight scenes, supernatural horror
About Ashia Monet
Ashia Monet is a speculative fiction author whose work almost always includes found families, diverse ensemble casts, the power of friendship, and equal parts humor and drama. Some of her favorite things are The Adventure Zone, Ariana Grande, and the color pink. You can follow her on Twitter @ashiamonet and Instagram @ashiawrites.
The Black Veins Blog Tour Schedule
CW @ The Quiet Pond (Introduction + Review)
Friends, I am so excited for this blog tour and for all of you to read The Black Veins. I am so thankful for Ashia for giving me the opportunity to help her promote this incredible book. A big shout-out to The Guardian Protection Squad for being awesome cheerleaders for Ashia and their book!
- Are you looking forward to reading The Black Veins? What about the book interests you?
- Do you like books with the found family trope? How about books with no romance?
- Do you know any books that have magic systems? Do you have any recommendations?