It turns out I've read the previous book in this series by Gail Dayton, New Blood, which I also gave five stars. However, when I started reading this I hadn't remembered that book; it was only after I was
already hooked by this story that some of the peripheral characters began to feel familiar. If I hadn't read New Blood, it wouldn't have mattered as all that
is necessary to this story is explained.
Heart's Blood deservedly receives five stars from me, for many of the same reasons as its predecessor:
the writing is excellent, pacing is good, characters are varied and interesting, the magical setting is unusual, and it's not at all predictable.
Our heroine, Miss Pearl Parkin, persuades Magister Grey Carteret to take her on as an apprentice in magic. Grey is a conjurer, one of four types of magic (conjury, sorcery, wizardry and alchemy), and Pearl is soon discovered to be a sorcerer - a very rare magical form which
bears its own problems.
The only known sorcerer, Amanusa (heroine of the previous book), isn't available to help teach Pearl initially, so she and Grey do their best to learn from experience as well as from
some sorcery books that Pearl has. But they may be blundering around in the dark, and
as they try to get to the bottom of a gruesome murder, their combined skills may bring them closer together than Grey might want.
I enjoyed the mid-19th-century setting of London with the dark underbelly, the gentlemen-only nature of some of the magical guilds, and the mystery of the dark zones and the murderer. Heart's Blood is another excellent read and I look forward to the next in this series.