In a world bound by tradition, Asagi walks a path different from everyone else. Both man and woman, his life has been far from easy. He is a slave and, while a few of his masters have been kind, the majority have abused and tortured him for their own pleasure. Yet now he has come to the house of Arakwaka Mahiro, a man like no other. Mahiro is the first man to see Asagi and to love him as he is and suddenly his status as slave is elevated to one of mistress and beloved companion to a powerful man.
But when an act of pain and jealously leaves Asagi on the verge of death, Mahiro reveals his true nature and does the unthinkable. He turns Asagi into a monster and irrevocably changes the nature of their relationship. Ultimately, Asagi will have to decide what kind of life he wants and have the courage to forge his own path.
First, let me say that Asagi is a gender fluid character. While I’m using “he” as a pronoun, since that is how the author refers to Asagi in the blurb, the character feels both man and woman and a beautiful creation of their own making. Asagi is written in a very gender fluid style and I started just thinking of the character as Asagi and not focusing so much on a gender identification. I’m in no way trying to disrespect the character by assigning him a specific gender, but since the author refers to Asagi as “he,” I stuck with that.
Bloodlaced is a very good book, but ultimately it’s tragically sad. There are few happy moments to be found and Asagi’s suffering is profound. So make sure you’re prepared for a healthy dose of angsty before you pick this one.
Asagi is ultimately victimized for being different. He is understood by few and isolated by a rigid class structure that doesn’t allow for rule breaking. That he has survived is a credit to his determination and the depth of his endurance. Asagi is impossible not to champion and care about. His suffering has given him a strength that is believable and empowering. That’s not to say it comes without cost and often Asagi is not the only one to suffer. Asagi and the other characters are victims, both of their actions and of the world they live in.
The vampire aspect of Bloodlaced is the weakest part of the book. It works, but it reads as disconnected from the rest of the story. I appreciate the purpose of it with regards to the plot, but it adds a layer of additional suffering that seems unnecessary. Given all that Asagi had already endured and the depth of that, the weight of immortality is a truly heavy one.
Bloodlaced is well written and it’s main characters are exceptionally defined and given real depth. But this is a sad book and there are terrible things that happen and at times the angst of it all can make the book occasionally difficult to read. That said, I believe this is the first in a series and I’ll be interested to know how Asagi’s story continues