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Blood Spirits    by Sherwood Smith order for
Blood Spirits
by Sherwood Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Blood Spirits is the exciting sequel to Sherwood Smith's Coronets and Steel, an urban fantasy which reads rather like a Prisoner of Zenda rewrite with an athletic (skilled in ballet and fencing) Californian heroine, Aurelia Kim Murray.

In the first book, Kim sought her grandmother's family in Europe after the latter told her that she must return to 'heal the breach.' In Vienna, she was kidnapped (a case of mistaken identity) by prince Marius Alexander Ysvorod who believed she was his missing fiancée, her aristocratic lookalike cousin Aurelia 'Ruli' Dsaret. She discovered her family roots in Dobrenica, where she was embroiled in a plot against the throne and was attracted to both Alec and her bad boy cousin Tony. And, she saw ghosts.

Along with Kim, readers learned of inimasang (spirits of the blood or vampires) and a Nasdrafus (fairyland) coexisting with Dobrenica. A royal marriage on a particular day is said to invoke the Blessing miracle that protects the country from outside threats by shifting it into another dimension where otherworldly beings exist alongside humans. As Coronets and Steel ended, Kim returned to California, leaving the way open for the Blessing to be invoked in Dobrenica by the upcoming (though reluctant) marriage between Alec and Aurelia.

As Blood Spirits opens, Kim realizes that she has unfinished business in Dobrenica. She heads home to Santa Monica to learn that her parents and grandmother are heading to London to meet with Alec's father Milo. She joins them and, en route, hears her cousin Ruli's voice inside her head, begging for help. When she reaches Dobrenica, she finds out that Alec and Ruli's wedding did not succeed in invoking the Blessing. Also Ruli is dead and Alec is supected of killing her, in order to clear his way to be with Kim.

Kim learns from the Salfmattas (healer/mages) how better to refine her talents and applies them to the site of Ruli's death. She also rescues an aristocrat from attempted murder and discovers that someone has opened a gateway into the realm for inimasang and that the annual treaty with them was not renewed, leaving them free to prey on humans. As this evolves, Kim's hippie mother arrives from Paris, masquerading as a cook while 'playing sleuth'. And Kim hears from her grandfather's ghost.

Of course Kim and Alec foil this latest danger to Dobrenica, but with many surprising plot twists, that leave intriguing openings for future episodes. I can't wait!

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