- published by:Self-Published
- genres: fantasy, urban fantasy, YA
- content warnings: Discussion of deceased parents and siblings. Mentions of drug use (primarily marijuana), gun use, supernatural horror, car accidents, discussion of anxiety disorder and panic disorders, racial n-slur use (Black author), anxiety attacks. These warnings are taken from the front of the book.
- read if you’re a fan of:roadtrip novels, found families, large main casts, diverse characters, urban fantasy and hidden magic worlds, Harry Potter, plots with no romance
In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
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.
The Black Veins is an inventive and exciting new release that has so many of the qualities I see people asking for in YA lit. I’ve been following Ashia on twitter for a long time and watching them write this story, post about the characters and the plot, and to finally see it all come together in THE BLACK VEINS has been really special. The culmination of all Ashia’s efforts into this book was even better than I could have ever dreamed, and I genuinely loved reading this urban fantasy, character-driven road trip book which was so much fun and filled with thoughtful, inclusive representation and loveable characters.
The Black Veins begins with Blythe Fulton, a sixteen-year-old girl who’s completely normal except for the fact she is a Guardian. The Guardian’s are some of the worlds most powerful magical users, elected by their parents as birth to be a user of one of the seven magic types – Ether, Mind, Body, Death, Nature, Animals and Time. When the Guardian’s lives are threatened by the Trident Republic, a rebel group challenging the government of The Black Veins and her parents are kidnapped from their family-owned coffee shop, Blythe sets out on a quest to unite the Guardians and rescue her parents.
The first thing that struck me about The Black Veins was the strong character focus. Monet weaves a tapestry of characters, who are all unique and interesting in their own rights. We follow seven main characters: ),
✧ Blythe – Our main character and the Guardian of Ether. She is black and bisexual. She is determined, friendly and warm, and the leader of the group.
✧ Cordelia – The second Guardian we meet, who is the Mind Guardian. She is Chinese-British. Cordelia likes nice things and can be a bit uppity, but she’s intelligent and loyal.
✧ Daniel – Nature Guardian. He’s the youngest of the group, and pretty naive and innocent due to living a very sheltered life.
✧ Antonio – Animal Guardian. Puerto Rican, queer, and the sunshine heart of the group. He has strong surfer boy energy and a gift for baking.
✧ Storm – Time Guardian. She is Black, has a mysterious past and is easily the funniest member of the group. Her lines made me laugh out loud.
✧ Caspian – Death Guardian. Trans, asexual, and literally a ghost. Adorable, loves Ramen, and not what anyone expects.
✧ Jay – Body Guardian. Black and unstoppably bisexual. Charming, charismatic, the hot bitch and a hoe but proud of it. He was my FAVOURITE AND I WOULD DIE FOR HIM.
"My friends leave me on read" "I'd never leave you on read, bro" Jay says Antonio grasps his heart. "Bro."
One thing I loved about this cast was how distinctive and unique each character felt. I thought each character was extremely fleshed out, not just in terms of giving each character a strong motivation and a character arc, but also for smaller details, like their hobbies, personalities, likes and dislikes. This made every character feel real and relatable to me, and it was easy to invest in the squad. While having this many characters could have felt crowded, Monet perfectly balances each voice and character, to give each an important role without creating a story that felt clustered and confused.
The group dynamics and banter was easily my favourite part of this book. I am a major sucker for a strong group dynamic and The Black Veins had it in SPADES. The jokes were genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, but there was also soft and tender moments between the characters that highlighted their genuine affection for eachother and I loved that. Also, no friendship and no romance – what a blessing! Monet has a great sense of timing and humour, dropping jokes that are genuinely funny in just the right places. And on top of that, each characters unique brand of humour just adds more to their characterisation.
"when chaos is constant, it starts to feel like comfort"
The reason I gave this a four-star and not a five is that for me, I felt the beginning took a bit to get going. The scenes as Blythe is travelling before meeting all the Guardians dragged a little for me, and lacked the strong character focus and fun that the second half of the book had. That said, the second half of the book easily made up for the earlier chapters and I loved the rush, fun-filled run to the end that book carried me on.
“The magic wakes at midnight. It arrives in the form of a song.”
All in all, The Black Veins is a highly enjoyable and well-crafted debut from an exciting new author. Ashia Monet has created something unique and beautiful with The Black Veins. High energy, fun, character-driven urban fantasy that values inclusion, friendship and family over all else. I promise if you read this you’ll find yourself in love with each and every one of these characters – and you’ll put down the book but won’t be able to stop thinking about them. I genuinely urge every single person who has told me they want more character-driven stories, more stories without romance, more fun in fantasy, and more group dynamics to pick up The Black Veins when it releases on July 17.
A big thankyou to Ashia for providing me with the ARC. These quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change on publication.
until next time!