Kanjin hardly view their servants as human. Even less so when they are different.
Asagi is different. Both a man and a woman.
In the wake of his failure to protect a boy they saw as a son from their abusive master, Asagi is sold into the house of a young nobleman, Mahiro, who is the opposite of everything Asagi has ever known—gentle, kind, and generous.
Mahiro bonds with Asagi and their friendship blooms into a deep and profound love. But when Asagi is poisoned out of jealousy, Mahiro reveals himself to be youkai, a demon who feeds on blood, and he has no choice but to turn Asagi to save their life.
Asagi awakes reborn, strong, and eternally youthful. But the price for Asagi’s new life is high.
The blood of the innocent.
Just as Asagi’s trust in Mahiro falters, the boy they failed to protect, now a man, reappears.
New master, same threat.
With both a literal and proverbial monster at the door, Asagi must decide what it means to be human to protect what they loves most.
Content Warnings: physical abuse, sexual abuse (off-page), self-harm, blood, graphic violence
If you like Bella Forrest, P. C. Cast, AJ Tipton, or Anne Rice, you will love this beautiful dark paranormal fantasy romance.
I’ve had Bloodlaced on my TBR for a long time so when it became a finalist, I knew I had to pull it off the digital shelf. I picked it up with a bit of scepticism because I don’t often see the historical Japan setting done well, but there was no need for that at all. From the first page, it feels like your transported back a few centuries to the countryside of Japan. The first chapter in particular reminded me a lot of Memoir of a Geisha but that’s the only comparison between the two. Asagi lives a very different life, one filled with more danger and less beauty.
Asagi, both man and woman, has to fight a lot of battles just because of who she is. Eventually, she finds her home, but one with a secret. One that she later shares. I love Asagi but some of the other characters felt a bit flat to me. Mahiro, her love interest, doesn’t seem to have much growth except for the last few pages. Tsukito, once a boy, now a man, could’ve shown a lot of growth but he seems stuck in who he was. The only difference is the optimism he had at the beginning of the book.
The book is fast-paced with lots of action happening back to back. The short chapters speed things up too. It’s easy to say ‘just one more chapter’. The writing is smooth but the author uses plenty of Japanese words which could be confusing if you’re not familiar with them. There is a dictionary but you’d have to look it up in the back of the book and that might pull you out of the story. I enjoyed it because it made the world feel more authentic but I understand it might not work for everyone.
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It’s a fresh take on vampires in historical Japan. I’d recommend Bloodlaced to people who love vampires, historical fiction, and Japan.
About the Author
Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country.
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