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Reviews of The Last Bloodcarver by Vanessa Le

The Last Bloodcarver

(The Last Bloodcarver Duology, Book 1)

by Vanessa Le

The Last Bloodcarver by Vanessa Le X
The Last Bloodcarver by Vanessa Le
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  • Published:
    Mar 2024, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo-Anne Blanco
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Book Summary

"A gritty world filled with a beautifully crafted cast and an intricate magic system. A smart, lush, and utterly compelling read." —Marie Lu, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Legend

Nhika is a bloodcarver. A coldhearted, ruthless being who can alter human biology with just a touch.

In the harsh, industrial city of Theumas, she is seen not as a healer as she was meant to, but a monster that kills for pleasure. And in the city's criminal underbelly, the rarest of monsters are traded for gold. When Nhika is finally caught by the infamous Butchers, she's auctioned off to the highest bidder—a mysterious girl garbed in white. But this strange buyer doesn't want to use Nhika as an assassin or a trophy piece. She intends to use Nhika's bloodcarving to heal the last person who saw her father's killer.

As Nhika delves into the investigation amid Theumas's wealthiest and most powerful, all signs point to Ven Kochin, an alluring yet entitled physician's aide intent on casting her out of his opulent world. But despite his relentless attempts to push her away, something inexplicable draws Nhika to him. When she discovers Kochin is not who he claims to be, Nhika must face a greater, more terrifying evil, turning her quest for justice into a fight for her life.

Her only chance to survive lies in a terrible choice—become the dreaded monster the city fears, or risk destroying herself and the future of her kind.

ONE

Someone like Nhika, with her fidgety smile and frayed satchel of snake oils, didn't belong in these streets.

In the Dog Borough near the harbor, she never would've stood out in this attire, with her cropped sleeves and bare hands. There, residents traded silk for cotton and wool, and the cogwork of their automatons crackled with rust and crusted sea salt. Here in the Horse Borough, women wrapped themselves in tight silk dresses and men in boxy robes, concealing every inch of skin with long gloves and high collars. It was the fashion, stemming from the fear of people like her.

The myth of them, anyway.

People watched as she slipped by, this little soot stain in a city of silvers and blues. Eyes didn't linger; they gave her as much space as she wanted. Paper-vendor automatons raised newspapers on segmented arms as she passed, so clean that her warped reflection greeted her in bronze. Today's headline was about the death of Congmi Industries' founder, all the buzz in Theumas despite being...

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Reviews

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The worldbuilding of The Last Bloodcarver is vivid and potent, with picturesque, evocative descriptions contrasting the wealthy milieu of Theumas' elite with the gritty, often gruesome world of its underclass. Nhika is a sympathetic and engaging heroine, tough and resourceful owing to her circumstances, and also intensely lonely and vulnerable, believing that there is no one else like her left alive, and carrying with her the grief and guilt of being unable to cure her dying mother despite her magical abilities. The supporting characters are also well-drawn, nuanced, at times mysterious, and convincingly unpredictable as we see them through Nhika's eyes...continued

Full Review (664 words)

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(Reviewed by Jo-Anne Blanco).

Media Reviews

Booklist (starred review)
Medically based magic, a world full of mechanistic creations, and incredibly lovable side characters are icing on the cake of this slow burn, deeply romantic, and darkly biological fantasy with a Vietnamese foundation...An engrossing, emotionally intense debut.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
An entrancingly well-written debut.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Le expertly crafts a Vietnamese-inspired dark fantasy debut via visceral and exquisitely rendered prose, intertwining a murder investigation with themes of unresolved grief, medical ethics, and lost heritage.

Author Blurb Axie Oh, New York Times-bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
The Last Bloodcarver is the perfect blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, with a world that feels lived in and characters that come alive on the page. A unique and beautifully written novel―Le is a talent to watch!

Author Blurb Chloe Gong, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of These Violent Delights
Brilliantly rendered. The Last Bloodcarver unfolds in gripping detail, following a mystery colored by its beautiful, destructive city. You'll gasp, you'll scream, you'll cry, and you'll be begging for the next book.

Author Blurb Joan He, New York Times-bestselling author of The Ones We're Meant to Find
The Last Bloodcarver has it all―a wonderfully unique magic system, heartfelt themes of legacy and diaspora, and obsession-worthy characters. I need more Nhika and Kochin now!

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Blood Magic in YA Literature by Asian American Authors

YA blood magic book jacketsIn Vanessa Le's debut YA novel The Last Bloodcarver, her heroine, Nhika, is the titular protagonist: a person with the power to alter anatomy with a single touch, able to travel through a body's bloodstream, and cure it, wound it, or end its life altogether. Bloodcarvers can also feed on blood and proteins from other humans and animals to heal themselves if they are ill or injured. Nhika inherits this blood magic from her family. Le is a Vietnamese American author who, according to her bio, "loves reading and writing stories about the Asian diasporic experience and high-concept magic systems." Her first novel, described as "a Vietnamese-inspired dark fantasy" incorporates both of these subjects into a steampunk secondary world. Le is far ...

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