ARC Review: The Heart of the Bloodstone (The Stone Tribes #1) by Philinna Wood

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Avalan is a hunter in a cage. In the village of Hydrus, a fastness secluded from the Stone Lands, Avalan was born. He swam its warm waters, hunted through its blackwood forest, played the goat games on its white shore. Now, he watches the chief erect a mighty palisade to keep his tribe contained, forbid the magic of the birthstones, exile his childhood friend, and punish the tribe of Hydrus for daring to love, hope, dream … As the chief’s madness grows, so does Avalan’s longing to lead the tribe to freedom. But Avalan’s dagger is no match for the chief’s powerful stone magic. Much as Avalan hates the stones for being the chief’s weapon, he realizes there’s only one path to freeing his tribe: find what was denied to him, the missing piece of his soul..
The Heart of the Bloodstone.

📖/🔇 kindle eARC, no audio

The cover art for this book is absolutely stunning, but of course it is since it’s done by the one and only Felix Ortiz! Funny thing though, is that it kinda reminds me of the 90’s movie Free Willy.

I was a bit skeptical to read this after seeing a few earlier reviews from people that had started and finished before I picked it up, that really drove this into the ground. But I have to disagree with them, I loved the characters, the story, the birthstone magic system and the world building. It has a little romance in the first half, and a lot of mystery that is revealed throughout the book. I did have some issues (stated below), but this was an amazing read leading to what should be an incredible series from this debut author!

“Guilt isn’t a wise companion, my son. It tears at your heart and eats at your soul.”

This is an adventure story with multiple POV’s, we follow Avalan, who plans to liberate his secluded and primitive tribe from the rule of their current chief. Bhoran, who is exiled from the village and is trying to figure out who he is. Lusha who wishes to leave the village to be with her mothers tribe in another city and also be with Bhoran. Finally, Bassalt, the chief who is keeping the village from their birthstones to “protect” them. There is not a lot of action that takes place in the first half of the book. Despite the little action, it doesn’t take away from the story, and this is a tremendous story that really gets rolling after the halfway point. There are also several things that happen throughout the book that will make your heart sink in your chest and feel the hurt of the characters involved.

“The great path always leads back to the One stone, for from stone we all come, and to stone we return.”

The authors world building is outstanding! The way she builds the environment and the cities made me get lost in the beauty that the she created. The forest and the cities are so well described that you could see every thing as clear as day in your mind. Her character building is also a huge bright spot. Each character is given time to grow on you to love or hate. The magic system is pretty unique to me and it is based on 12 birthstones which each one has its own distinct power and everyone’s eyes are the color of their birthstones.

“The waterdragon was raised from the guts of the sea, wet and strong, a mighty guardian of the waters.”

🚨 Really my only complaints, is that the second half is far better than the first half of the book, the other thing is that while the cover art is spectacular, it’s more of an “eye catcher” to get you to pick up the book, because I feel like it doesn’t describe the essence of this book. The waterdragon is mentioned several times, but it has a pretty small part to play, at least for now, and with it being featured on the cover I expected a little bit more than that… but that does not take anything away from this amazing book, I just feel a bit cheated.

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