One Blood Ruby
One Blood Ruby is the follow-up to Melissa Marr’s Seven Black Diamonds, published in early 2016. This second installment picks up shortly after book one ended, and I definitely recommend starting at the beginning of the series in order to have a full understanding of the characters, the world they inhabit, and the relationships they share.
Lilywhite Abernathy was the daughter of an infamous crime boss before discovering herself to be part of an elite squad of secret operatives created by the fae Queen of Blood and Rage. The queen intended these operatives to perform a series of dangerous tasks in her name to ensure the continued existence of the fae. Along the way, Lilywhite not only learns she is half fae herself, but also admits her romantic interest in fellow operative, Creed.
At the opening of One Blood Ruby, Lily is still struggling to come to terms with the fact that she has been named the Queen’s heir. On one hand, she is thrilled by the prospect of being able to change some of the more old-fashioned fae laws, but, on the other, she doesn’t much care for the idea of giving up her former life in order to rule what is known as the Hidden Lands. She and Creed are now far more than simply fellow Black Diamonds, and Lily’s not willing to give him up.
The Queen asks Lily to serve as a bridge between the human and fae realms in an attempt to broker peace between the two factions. Lily reluctantly agrees, deciding that peace is nothing to be sneezed at. After all, if the two sides of her heritage can get along, her life as the future monarch will be all the simpler. But Lily refuses to work alone. She enlists the help of Creed and the rest of the Black Diamonds to help with this very difficult mission.
As Lily and her friends struggle to piece together an alliance between the humans and the fae, each of them must come to terms with a secret from his or her own past. Some of these secrets were revealed in the previous book, but some are divulged for the first time here. I didn’t necessarily find any of them hugely compelling, but that may simply be due to the large amount of YA fantasy I’ve consumed over the past few years. Other readers might find this element of the story perfectly satisfying.
I loved the way the relationship between Lily and Creed blossoms. The extreme pressure they find themselves under draws them closer together instead of pushing them apart, and they balance each other amazingly well. Creed feels protective toward Lily in certain situations, but he also recognizes her as a strong, competent young woman who doesn’t necessarily need him to rescue her. I was also very pleased that the author doesn’t throw in countless misunderstandings just for the sake of creating conflict. Creed and Lily communicate very well, even when things are hard. I honestly wish good communication was more popular in romantic fiction.
I was also a big fan of the friendships shared by Lily and the rest of the Black Diamonds. All of them are struggling with something, but the group is incredibly supportive of one another. No one is overly self-absorbed, a rarity in young adult novels. Her friends watch as Lily grows into the queen she is truly meant to be, and they’re really and truly there for her every step of the way. Ms. Marr does not create needless drama between the Diamonds, allowing them to remain the cohesive group that really makes this novel shine – but don’t despair. There’s quite a lot of drama pulled in from outside forces to keep the story interesting.
I did struggle a bit with Ms. Marr’s depiction of the Hidden Lands and those who dwell there. There are a lot of fae characters, and I sometimes found it difficult to keep them all straight in my head. The constantly changing political alliances didn’t help matters, and now I kind of wish I’d taken a few notes while reading, just to save myself the trouble of flipping back and forth and trying to refresh my memory as to who was who and how they fit into a particular family group or political system.
We hear quite a bit about Lilywhite’s notorious mafia boss of a father, but he doesn’t factor into the story all that much. I do wish the author had fleshed out that part of Lily’s story a bit more; I mean, what’s the point of making a big deal of how dangerous and powerful her father is if nothing ever really comes of it?
It’s also worth pointing out that the pace slows dramatically about halfway through the book. It does pick back up toward the end, but I found the slow parts rather difficult to get through.
Despite these few criticisms, I enjoyed One Blood Ruby. Ms. Marr is a very talented author who creates wonderfully dark worlds and characters who practically leap off the page. While the books in the Seven Black Diamonds series don’t quite live up to her Wicked Lovely series, I definitely plan to continue reading to see how things turn out for Lily and those she loves.