Book Review: The Blood List by Sarah Naughton

The Blood ListTitle: The Blood List
Author: Sarah Naughton
Series:  Standalone
Pages:  304
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 27th February, 2014
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads: The year is 1646, tales of witches, murder and changelings are rife and a dark era is about to begin… Barnaby Nightingale is the perfect son; Strong, handsome, daring, everything his father wants him to be, and yet for his mother, Frances, he will never be the son she desires. Frances believes that her real son was taken from her as a baby by the local village folk who believed him to be a changeling, and Barnaby left in his place. Constantly disappointing his mother, Barnaby is spoiled by his father and despised by his younger brother, Abel. But when the beautiful and mysterious Naomi catches Barnaby's attention his world is thrown into chaos as superstition and dark folklore take hold of the small village and Naomi is accused of being a witch. Fear and suspicion spread and soon Barnaby finds himself on trial too and facing the ultimate penalty… death.

My Thoughts:
I very rarely read historical fiction so The Blood List was really interesting for me. I don't know much about witches and England in the 1600s, but I've always been curious about this period. I've never read anything like it because I'm always wary of info-dumping and long and boring scene setting in historical novels but The Blood List was really easy to get into and enjoy reading, but I still feel like I understand the setting well.

I really liked all the superstition and mythology (kind of) that the book is based around. The novel opens with Frances, a young mother who's just given birth to a baby boy that everybody thinks is a changeling baby. They put him out on the midden heap to be replaced by the 'real' baby that the fairies swapped for their changeling, where the next morning they found a different baby, which they believed to be the one that Frances gave birth to. I thought this made a real interesting opening and it hooked me in for the rest of the story, which takes place sixteen years later when the baby boy, Barnaby, has grown up.

The plot summarised in the blurb takes a loooong time to get started though (it's not until three quarters of the way through that Naomi is accused of witchcraft) but that didn't bother me too much, since I was happy reading about Barnaby's day to day life and his growing up, and it was good to get to know all the characters before things started happening. I do think perhaps some of it could have been cut, despite it being written well (Sarah's writing is so great) because it was a bit irrelevant or unexplained (like the weird pebbles leading his way out of the forest - what were they?), but it was still fun to read and the book's not very long even still so it wasn't a problem. Once Naomi is accused the plot escalates quickly, which was very exciting.

The characters were pretty good.  I liked reading about life in the 1600s, and while I have absolutely no idea of how accurate it is, it was still really interesting (also it's fiction so whatever). The characters did seem very modern though, in what they did and how they spoke, so it was quite difficult to imagine them in a medieval setting but good reading nonetheless. I really liked Juliet and Naomi and really felt for them towards the end of the book. I thought Barnaby's brother, Abel, was particularly good despite being the 'villain' too.

Overall, The Blood List was a really great read.  I definitely recommend if you're into historical fiction, or you're looking to read one for the first time. Also, check out Sarah's other book, The Hanged Man Rises, as it is also great!

*Thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 

I also have a book trailer for the book that Sarah Naughton made herself, as my stop on the blog tour! Do watch it and I hope you enjoy it!

Also I am so sorry this is late - I had a problem with my scheduling and it didn't post when it should have >.<


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