Spells of Blood and Kin was a beautifully written book that felt like a waste of time by the time I got to the end. I’m usually not this harsh on a book, but I seriously felt disappointed. I was never bored with it—in fact, I couldn’t put it down—but I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the other shoe to drop and all I got was a shoelace.




The synopsis as posted on Goodreads:

When her beloved grandmother dies suddenly, 22-year-old Lissa Nevsky is left with no choice but to take over her grandmother’s magical position in their small folk community. That includes honoring a debt owed to the dangerous stranger who appears at Lissa’s door.


Maksim Volkov needs magic to keep his brutal nature leashed, but he’s already lost control once: his blood-borne lust for violence infects Nick Kaisaris, a charming slacker out celebrating the end of finals. Now Nick is somewhere else in Toronto, going slowly mad, and Maksim must find him before he hurts more people.


Lissa must uncover forbidden secrets and mend family rifts in order to prevent Maksim from hurting more people, including himself. If she fails, Maksim will have no choice but to destroy both himself and Nick.


I love a great setting, and with SBK, I felt completely transported into the world. Seriously, Claire Humphrey does a great job of drawing the reader in, building interesting characters, and giving you dark, twisted, vivid scenarios with some gritty violence. The story centered around Russian folkore, which is something I have had limited exposure to, so I enjoyed the historical callbacks with Maksim when I saw him through different periods in time. The problem is it took way too long to get to the answers and once I got them, all I could think was, “that’s it?”

The story is told from multiple perspectives. I usually prefer no more than two, but I am very open to stories with more, and I know they’ll work as long as they are done well. SBK used multiple POV in a very interesting way and even went back in time to reveal Maksim’s troublesome and interesting past. In my opinion, he has the most interesting POV. His dialogue is a bit choppy, but I forgave it because he’s centuries old and may have a more formal speech pattern.

In Lissa’s POV, she has to deal with learning how to be a koldun’ia (witch) and can only talk with her dead grandmother (Baba) on the full moon. Maksim shows up on her doorstep because of a promise that her grandmother made, and she learns that Maksim is kin. However, kin does not mean that he is related to her, and in order to fulfill this promise she must pay a price. Plus, she has to deal with her stepsister (Stella) coming into town and staying with her unexpectedly. Lissa and Stella were practically strangers, and I must say I did enjoy their interactions.

Nick—on the other hand—was a completely different story. It took me a while to get into Nick’s POV, but I kept on with it because I just knew it was leading to something. By the time I got to the end, I honestly felt that his story served very little purpose. He only served as a catalyst for another character’s development and didn’t need to have his own POV. I just didn’t care.

SBK is definitely a slow burn—which isn’t bad at all. I like slow burns. I just expected more in the end. It doesn’t have to be Dan Brown dramatics, but I wanted a slice of chocolate cake and got an M&M instead.

I’m all about managing expectations, so if you decide to read it just know that. It may be worth your time if you just go along on the journey and forget all about that cake.



-great worldbuilding

-cool Russian folklore

-dark fantasy with some grit (not like a horror novel, though)

-nice buildup

-choppy dialogue

-I didn’t hate the book; I just wanted a little more punch in the end and was left very disappointed


Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Spells of Blood and Kin can be purchased here.


Kyndal is a free spirit who finds it very hard to describe herself. Tea Snob. Daydreamer. History, Fantasy, & Book Blerd. Cursed with Wanderlust. Jams to show tunes. Obsessed with Hamilton (the musical). Always on the advent of her next adventure.


Twitter: @ladykyndal

IG: @ladykyndal