REVIEW #65 | THE BLACK VEINS by Ashia Monet (eARC) (Dead Magic #1)

Title: The Black Veins

Author: Ashia Monet

Series or Standalone?: Dead Magic #1

Publishing Date: 17 July 2019

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“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.”

Trigger/Content warnings (copy and pasted directly from the novel) [Note: they usually aren’t this specific with chapters, but like I said, I’m taking it directly from the book’s content warning section]:

  • discussion of deceased parents and siblings; potential parent/family death
  • description of mild bloodshed in violent scenes
  • mention of drugs/drug use (specifically marijuana)
  • gun use
  • supernatural horror in the form of monsters, primarily found in Chapters 6, 12, and 25
  • car accident in chapter 19
  • discussion of anxiety disorders/panic disorders, primarily found in Chapters 22, 23, and 25
  • racial n-word slur, ending in -a, found in Chapter 21
  • mild anxiety attack in Chapter 25

Representation (drawn from the author’s handy-dandy Twitter thread):

  • Black bisexual girl protagonist with anxiety
  • Chinese/British mixed girl side character who will (eventually) identify as questioning (she identifies as straight in The Black Veins)
  • Puerto Rican boy side character that will (eventually) come to identify as demisexual, demiromantic, and only attracted to boys
  • Black straight girl side character
  • Black bisexual boy side character
  • white ace trans boy side character
  • white non-binary/agender side character that uses they/them pronouns

⭐⭐⭐⭐
4/5 stars

*I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review*

(We’ll just…ignore the fact that I’m a half a year late with this review. Ha…haha…)

I didn’t know I needed this wild, magical road trip book until I was done with it. Y’all, it was so good!!

The Black Veins follows Blythe, a Black bisexual girl who is also, coincidentally, a Guardian, a person who has control over one of the several different branches of magic. When her family is kidnapped and her family-owned coffeeshop is destroyed, Blythe is heartbroken. She decides, however, to follow them across the country in order to get them back. But she can’t do this alone. She has to go on a road trip to find the other Guardians in order to be strong enough to take on the people who kidnapped her family.

So, like. I don’t really read a lot of urban fantasy now. Most of the ones I know about are those adult urban fantasy series that are basically police procedurals with magic/magical creatures and sex, and they never caught my eye. But The Black Veins??? Was so much fun???

Seriously, I think one of the best parts about this novel was how fun it was. You have seven teens (or, well, mostly teens since Dan’s, like, twelve) that are eventually all travelling together. They are wildly different from one another, but they just seem to click, ya know? There were so many lines and jokes throughout the story that had me laughing outloud because the humor is just so spot-on. Ashia Monet, being a millenial (or Gen Z? I dunno, around that age range, lol) herself, does our kind of humor so well, and it worked. There were also some serious moments for sure, and they were given their time to be serious, which I appreciated. But, man, that humor… I was honestly not expecting that.

Also, damn, those characters??? Those characters!! I literally loved all of them. First of all, just look at that representation list. Five out of seven of the main cast are characters of color, and all but two are part of the LGBTQ+ community. That alone makes me so happy because their existence is never questioned. They’re bi? Cool. They’re trans and/or non-binary? Dope. They find out that they’re questioning later on? Awesome. In the end (definitely not in the beginning for all of them, lol), they support one another no matter what, and I that found family trope is just…so wonderful. I love it so much, and I think Ashia does an amazing job of creating and building these relationships in such an organic way. To me, it is definitely one of her strengths.

I’m just going to go right down the line and give a quick description of the seven of them because if I go even more in-depth, this review will take ages. So, without further ado…

  • Blythe: the protagonist; super determined to get her family back, but anxious about how to do it/what’s happening to them
  • Cordelia: doesn’t take anyone’s shit; literally a hacker what the fuck; under that cold exterior, she really does care for everyone
  • Daniel: *ahem* I WILL PROTECT HIM WITH MY LIFE; just a sheltered boy who likes plants and nature and shit, and has a ~secret~
  • Antonio: sunny surfer boy is, actually, my son; just a happy dude who likes to bake and make everyone feel good
  • Storm: probably the funniest out of the seven of them (literally made me laugh out loud so many times); makes me want to know more about her
  • Caspian: listen…this boy…can I just say that I love his character development (and Daniel’s!)
  • Jay: flirty bi king we all need; I need to see more of him in the next book because his and Antonio’s interactions are something else entirely

Overall? I felt connected to the characters even with the plot being as fast as it was. While there were a few parts I was confused by or I thought were just a tad too coincidental, I thought this was a wonderful debut, and I can’t wait to see what Ashia has in store for us in the future.

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