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  • Writer's pictureJudith Revenberg

The Blight of Blackridge | Book review

A sinister plot and engaging protagonist.


All Eleanor Payne wants is to live her life in peace. But a war between the gods has cracked the world in two, and the Payne family pledged to the losing side. The village of Blackridge has labelled them traitors. They’ve fallen far from grace and lost nearly everything. With her mother desperate to convert to preserve the little they have left and her great-grandmother forbidding it, Eleanor has no choice but to pick a side.

But she would rather starve than surrender.

On the hunt for another path, Eleanor uncovers powerful secrets that the Payne matriarchs buried in their past. And a condemning truth about the dark history of Blackridge. The more she uncovers, the more desperate the village becomes to silence her.

But Eleanor has come too far to turn back now. And when faced with the dangerous consequences of digging too deep, she unlocks a terrifying power within herself.

One that will make Blackridge wish they hadn’t pushed her so far.

My score


My opinion

Beware of spoilers

I'll be honest—I had some trouble getting into this book. The chapters were quite long, and while a lot of things happened, at the same time, they didn't, as the initial information we received felt quite surface-level. We got to know Eleanor 'Nell' Payne and her place in Blackridge and learned that she and her family are shunned due to their affiliation with the banned God Ebroth. Regardless, after the first few chapters, I wasn't sure what the greater stakes would be to drive this story forward. There was some conflict between Eleanor and the daughter of the High Priestess of Dienna (a twin diety to Ebroth who is worshipped in Blackridge). Still, it initially felt a bit like a high-school drama in a fantasy setting, in which Nell feels like an outcast bullied by the popular kids.

But hey, I'm definitely one to admit when my first impression was wrong—and it was.

As soon as Eleanor became aware of her strong connection to Ebroth, the story picked up and became deserving of the Dark Fantasy genre. A sinister plot surfaced of Gods manipulating their followers for their own gain under the ruse of divine will. Due to this, the story has an added layer where it's unclear whether we're rooting for the right God or we, as readers, are manipulated as well into believing Ebroth should demand retaliation. It makes you question everyone's motives and look for clues and gives the feeling that you are part of the greater conflict between the deities.

"It breaks my heart that you had to be born into a world that makes you feel like you deserve nothing, when you deserve so much more than we could ever give you."

The Blight of Blackridge delves into subjects such as blood sacrifices, possession, manipulation, death, decay, and betrayal. Eleanor is morally ambiguous at times, but it's always clear what drives her, which makes her a very engaging protagonist. Throughout the book, her confidence and strength grow, but the authors didn't make her overly powerful. She remains vulnerable, whether to pain, love, or her shortcomings, and in doing so, Nell stays realistic and relatable, despite the darkness she has to deal with. The romance subplot also felt natural, and I'm absolutely in love with Mariela.

When reading the book, I couldn't tell it was co-written as it flowed smoothly between scenes and chapters. The authors seem very in tune with the story they are trying to convey and capable of enhancing each other throughout the book. Overall, The Blight of Blackridge was a great start to the Book of Payne series, ending in a way that makes me wish I could get my hands on the sequel already. I can't wait to read where they'll take the story next!

I was given an ARC in exchange for my honest review. This did not influence my opinion.

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