Blood debts

Terry J. Benton-Walker

Book - 2023

Sixteen-year-old twins Clement and Cristina feel lost after their father's death, but find a new sense of purpose as they work to quell the rising tensions between New Orleans's magic and non-magic communities and find out who cursed their mother.

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YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Benton-Walker, Terry
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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Benton-Walker, Terry Due Dec 3, 2023
Queer fiction
Fantasy fiction
New York : Tor Teen, Tor Publishing Group 2023.
Main Author
Terry J. Benton-Walker (author)
First edition
Item Description
"Tom Doherty Associates"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
400 pages : illustrations, genealogical tables ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Walker's scintillating debut follows the Trudeau twins, members of a once-powerful magical New Orleans family. Thirty years after Cristine Dupart, the queen of the city's Generational Magic Council, was lynched for allegedly murdering the white mayor's daughter, her descendants live in enmity. Clement Trudeau, a young Black man with chronic anxiety, is a devoted practitioner of generational magic, while his gifted twin sister Cris swore to never use magic again following their father's tragic death. But when the siblings learn that their mother is dying of multiple organ failure, they perform a good luck spell in hopes of healing her, only to discover that their mother's mysterious illness isn't incidental: it's a curse, and she isn't the only target. Together, the pair must uncover the truth of Cristine's tragic history to ensure the surviving Trudeaus don't share her terrible fate. Steeped in spiritual lore that takes cues from the rich cultural history of the Black diaspora, Walker paints an evocative picture of an enchanted New Orleans as earthly as it is divine. Walker effectively parallels contemporary politics with heady alternate magical history to create a layered world that is more than the sum of its mercurial characters and its many moving parts. Ages 13--up. (Apr.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Benton-Walker's fantasy debut offers up political intrigue and drama set against the backdrop of a New Orleans steeped in magic. Clem and Cris Trudeau are 16-year-old twin scions to a Black generational magic family, conjurers who channel power through their ancestors and the moon. They live with the consequences of the brutal lynching that killed their grandparents 30 years ago--and led to another family taking their grandmother's throne. Tragedy continues to befall the Trudeau household: their family has scattered, their father died suddenly, and their mother's health continues to decline mysteriously. But when they discover that their mother isn't sick but cursed, they begin unravelling a plot that could tear their family, and New Orleans's magical and nonmagical populations, apart. Benton-Walker creates a fantastical thriller and deftly weaves in historical and current-day social issues, including racism, cultural appropriation, sex work, mental health, and homophobia. Readers will find Clem and Cris relatable, as both deal with grief and pressure in different ways. Secondary characters are mostly well-fleshed out, though some point-of-view characters, especially those we only see briefly, feel extraneous. VERDICT A complex and intriguing fantasy that is sure to be popular with teens.--Ness Shortley

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Twins with a lineage of magic and a family history stained by violent betrayal pursue blood and justice in this bewitching contemporary fantasy. Secrets and grief have torn Cris and Clem Dupart's family into pieces. All the people Clem loves die or abandon him. The doctor says his mother has weeks to live. His aunt left their family's estate and won't explain why. Ever since their father's fatal heart attack 11 months ago, his twin sister has shut him out. But no matter how much she misses her brother, Cris can't bear to tell him the truth about why she's given up practicing generational magic. When Clem and Cris find a hex doll beneath their mother's bed, they realize their survival depends on reuniting their estranged relatives. Someone wants to destroy their family, perhaps the same someone who blamed their grandmother for murdering the mayor's daughter 30 years ago. Set in New Orleans during an election year, realistic, magically charged political intrigue surrounds this high-suspense mystery about a justice-seeking family of Black gen--conjurers who channel power from ancestors and the moon. Writing from multiple perspectives with trauma-informed care, Benton-Walker develops each character with emotional complexity, including those with insidious intentions. Social themes, including cultural appropriation of sacred practices, racism, mental illness, sex work, sexuality, and consent, adeptly intertwine with the story's conflict. This page-turning debut demands a sequel. Riveting and relevant. (author's note, magic chart, family trees) (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.