Review: The Blood Trials by N. E. Davenport

Review by Eliza

This review first appeared at Leviathan Libraries.

Ikenna Amari is wallowing in her grief after the death of her grandfather. She’s on a self-destructive path, but soon receives a shock. Her grandfather’s good friend believes he was murdered, and Kenna’s determined to find out why. To do this, she must change her plans and pledge to become a member of the Praetorian Guard to have the access she needs to find out the truth. The trials to become a Praetorian are deadly, and Kenna must fight to stay alive during each round of the competition, while determining who to trust as she seeks the truth.

The Blood Trials by N. E. Davenport

Title: The Blood Trials | Series: The Blood Gift | Publisher: Harper Voyager | Pub Date: 2022-04-05 | Pages: 464 | ISBN13/ASIN: 978-0063058484 | Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

The Blood Trials Review

Pick up this book, sit down, buckle up, and hold on. This book’s pitched as an action-packed story, and it delivers. N. E. Davenport shows us who Ikenna Amari is through her actions from the start, and manages to balance intense action scenes with detailed descriptions, ensuring you know what’s going on and have enough information to follow the story. The action builds throughout the book, and this is easily one of the most violent books I’ve ever read. The brutality of this world, the blatant racism, and bloodthirst from people willing to go to war to expand their borders provide constant reminders that it’s hard to know who to trust. Almost everyone had an agenda, and Kenna has to try to anticipate every target on her back while she fights to survive.

The rich world-building nsures Mareen leaves its mark on you. Davenport puts in the work to establish the political and geographic landscape. Davenport also takes some interesting risks that makes The Blood Trials stand out from other works. The nature of the trials requires constant venue changes, which means readers are introduced to new locations throughout, but the rich descriptions ensure readers are anchored in each setting and have some idea what to expect.

I actually appreciated the way that Davenport provided so much information while developing the settings and the characters, and yet managed to tuck in the tiny details that added up to reveal the truths in the end without making them obvious. I felt genuinely surprised by some revelations, and yet, they felt earned. I could look back and see the details I hadn’t added while trying to work out the truth myself. 

It’s easy to talk about the violence, the constant danger, the rich characters, and the strong world-building, but that doesn’t do this book justice. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read in recent years. In Kenna, we have a female protagonist who’s anything but predictable or conventional. Kenna is strong and relentless. She never takes the easy way out of anything. She lives life on her terms, but she also grows. She had to overlook some offenses to gain the power she needs to take down the people who murdered her grandfather. She also has a lot of heart, and I want to avoid spoilers, so I’ll just say that some choices she’s faced with nearly break her while she wrestles with the high cost of learning the truth.

Davenport provides clear resolution to this story, and at the same time, sets things up beautifully for book 2. Kenna’s story doesn’t pull physical or emotional punches, and it held me in its grip from early on right through the last page. I hope more people discover this one, because it’s fantastic.

It should be noted there is room to ask whether this is YA or adult fiction. The story follows teenagers, but notes in other reviews state it’s adult fiction because of the level of violence. However, I doubt the violence would deter a lot of YA readers, and this book will appeal to teens and adults who like action-packed stories.

Consumers needing content warnings are urged to Check out {title’s} page on Does the Dog die by clicking this link: The Blood Trials (Book, 2022) –

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