Review Details

Review type: Book

Title: The Last Bloodcarver

Author: Vanessa Le

Publisher: Rock the Boat

Release date: 21st March 2024

The Last Bloodcarver

Reviewed by: Sarah Deeming

Other details: Paperback, RRP £7.49

The Last Bloodcarver by Vanessa Le

Sarah Deeming

When Daltanny invaded the little island of Yarong, they found Heartsoothers, men and women who have the ability to heal others through touch and an understanding of human anatomy. Fascinated and fearful of this ability, the Daltanny hunted the Heartsoothers almost to extinction, branding them Bloodcarvers, people who can hurt and kill with a touch. Now, only Nhika remains, an orphan in a city where using her power could see her executed. But there are so many people who need her help, and she is so empathetic that Nhika can’t stop herself. One subterfuge healing brings the wrong kind of attention to Nhika and she is captured by slavers and sold to the highest bidder: the Congmi siblings. Their father, an inventor, philanthropist, and city leader, has died, and they believe he was murdered. The only witness is unconscious, and they need Nhika to heal him so they can bring their father’s murderer to justice, but in doing so, Nhika uncovers secrets that might bring the city to its knees.

The Last Blood Carver is the first in a new duology in a vivid Vietnam-inspired world, following Nhika as she moves through the underbelly of Theumas’s elite. She was orphaned at a young age and didn’t have a mentor to help her understand her power; she is also haunted by the death of her mother, which she feels she could have prevented had she known more about her power. She’s trapped in a vicious circle she can’t get out of. But despite all this, Nhika is a gentle soul who still tries to help and heal others, including the Congmi family, who are one of the city’s rulers and part of the historical problem she finds herself in. I really engaged with her because although she had such a bad start, Nhika didn’t wallow. She takes every opportunity available to learn, improve, and help others.

I found the world-building a little hit-and-miss, though more hit than miss. The action is based around the city-state of Theumas, which has great descriptions for some parts but not others. I understood how this city was divided into sections depending on the people living there and their trade. Automatons are used in the city; for example, there are cars, but how we have this blended world of magic and technology isn’t as fully explored as I would have liked. However, that’s just a minor issue and something that didn’t impact my enjoyment because the story focuses on the magic system Nhika works with, which is beautifully explained and engaging. There are rules and a cost for Nhika using her power, and her lack of knowledge combined with this cost means she can’t always heal someone. There was a real danger she wouldn’t be able to help the Congmi siblings.

There is a gentle enemies-to-lovers storyline which I am always a sucker for, and in The Last Blood Carver, this element progresses steadily with no backwards stepping to fill pages storyline. Everything that happens happens for a reason and moves the plot forward.

I loved The Last Blood Carver, which is very high praise because I am not a fan of YA fiction, but this had everything I needed to keep me engaged, and the ending really hit me in the feels. I can’t wait for the second book, His Mortal Demise. Highly recommended.

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