Blood and Flowers is an ALAN Review pick for May 2011.
From Kirkus Reviews:
As in Serendipity Market (2009), Blubaugh blends the magical and mundane into an original fantasy, told here by an 18-year-old who finds a home among an eclectic group of human and faerie folk. With a “penchant for dropping out of school” and “a mile-wide love of Shakespeare,” Persia left her “drugged-out, fey-bashing parents” a year ago to join The Outlaw Puppet Troupe, known for its fringe, slightly subversive underground performances. Finding The Outlaws was “like coming home to the place” she’d “been looking for forever.” Persia’s unidentified world is rife with illegal pixie-dust dealing, a tumbling economy and environmental troubles. Fey-phobic authorities blame the faerie for everything bad, and The Outlaws are prime suspects with a faerie puppet-maker wielding magic behind the scenes. When their gay artistic director is subpoenaed on false charges by Major, his corrupt, vindictive ex-lover, The Outlaws flee their world of blood and flowers into Faerie, a practically perfect place. Here they assimilate with local faeries, trolls and griffins, until Major appears to deliver an ultimatum. To avoid becoming “a lost bunch of misfits,” The Outlaws stage what could be their final production. While the denouement feels anticlimactic, atmospheric language, arresting “culture mash-up,” unique characters, an alluring overlap of fantasy and reality and strong themes of family and friendship create a provocative read. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
From Five Alarm Book Reviews:
Blood and Flowers is magic and fairy tales that are weaved into magical storyline in this original fantasy, created for young adults. The story is told from the perspective of 18-year-old Persia, who finds a new family with The Outlaw Puppet Troupe after leaving her drug addicted parents. The Outlaws are a mix of human and faerie and their troupe is filled with odd, but interesting characters who are known for their creative and political controversial underground performances. When the the faerie are blamed for being connected with bad things The Outlaws find themselves as prime suspects. Tonio, The Outlaws artistic director and matriarch of the clan, is brought up on false charges by Major, his ex-lover who is out for revenge, and The Outlaws flee to Faerie, a seemingly perfect world.
Blubaugh has included faeries, griffins, trolls and a number of other fantasy beings, making this an ultimate fantasy experience. She has added elements of suspense and drama, then delivers with an ending that I was thoroughly pleased with. Happy or not, I really can’t say, lest I spoil the book. You will have to read it to find out.
I recommend Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh to fantasy fans and readers who are looking for a quick read that is extraordinary and that promises to transport the reader into a different world.
From Gretchen McNeil at Seanchai:
It’s only appropriate that my first Bookanistas review would be a book (a) about the theater and (b) edited by my own beloved editor Kristin Daly Rens. As if that wasn’t enough, Penny Blubaugh has created a dark, tantalizing world where fey and human keep a tenuous cohabitation in the mortal world, and magic – and it’s drug-laced after effects – have built a wall of suspicion and mistrust between the two worlds.
Enter the Outlaw Puppet Theater, a group of faeries and humans creating fly-by-night productions using questionably legal fey magic. As a theater chick myself, I loved the Outlaws – Tonio and Max, the couple who founded the troupe, Nicholas the aspiring lawyer, Floss whose faerie magic makes the troupe something truly unique, Lucia the wounded spirit and Persia, our main character who has finally found a home with the Outlaws. A home she’s going to cling to til her dying breath. I loved this family, this motley crew, this collection from the Island of Misfit toys. They act like a family, with petty squabbles and fierce loyalty, and I found myself completely drawn into their world.
And just when things are starting to go well for the Outlaws – a successful show, press, fame, money – it all comes crashing down. In the face of arrest and prison time, the Outlaws flee to the one place they think they’ll be safe: Faerie.
Yeah, not so much.
There are a lot of Fey-Human stories on the market right now, but one of the things that attracted me to BLOOD & FLOWERS was Penny Blubaugh’s vision of this world. Her Faerie is a strange place. Dark and wondrous, eccentric and wild, familiar yet completely original. There’s a luscious quality to her characterization of that alternate world and the pace of the story really starts to roll once the Outlaws jump into their new world. I literally couldn’t put the book down.
BLOOD & FLOWERS also give you a great love story: the wounded Persia with all her baggage and fears of love and rejection, and the boy-next-door Nicholas. Watching them take almost painfully slow baby steps towards each other gave me that tantalizing sexual tension I love so much!
And From Miz Lizzie on Goodreads:
In a city just across the border, if you can find it, from Faerie, Persia ran away to the best family of choice she could possibly join — The Outlaw Puppet Troupe (think Bread & Puppet Theater here — AWESOME!). She performs as well as makes fabulous handmade books for programs. She’s crushing on Nicholas, a law student who moonlights with the Outlaws. Tonio is the artistic director and writer of their political commentary puppet plays. His partner Max owns the apartment they all crash at and handles the financial end of things. Floss, Faerie royalty (but don’t talk about it), takes care of creating and providing the puppet magic. Fragile abuse-survivor Lucia walked out of Faerie with Floss one day and has been pushing the envelope ever since she joined the Outlaws. Then Tonio’s ex-lover shows up (again) and things start to get difficult.
I loved this book! It has all my favorite things … faeries, puppets, and bookmaking. With just a minor tweak here and there, it could easily fit into the Bordertown universe. It’s certainly reminiscent of some of Charles de Lint’s Newford stories. It’s a sweet book about working together and standing up for what you believe in and speaking the truth (even when it offends). Despite not being written in present tense (yeah!), it has a very in-the-moment feel. Only the sketchiest of backstories are given. Just enough to clarify the action. There’s no must-save-the-world heroics. Just regular everyday speaking out against injustice by ordinary folks (even if some of them are Faeries). In some ways, very little happens in the book. That is to say, there are no all out battles, chases, or any other adrenaline-pumping action. There’s just these folks … and the puppets … and the puppet plays that get them in and out of trouble. Brilliant, original stuff of dreams for this creative drama geek. Loved it.
Also an Oprah pick
From Kirkus Reviews:
In this debut storytelling tour de force, Blubaugh repackages familiar folk- and fairy-tale themes with contemporary verve and wit. When the omniscient Mama Inez discovers “the spin of the world is off,” she invites special guests to the Serendipity Market to help her balance it with their fantastical stories. Speaking in the first-person, each guest tells a tale in which astute readers will recognize traditional characters and motifs, albeit with a modern twist or fresh perspective. Disenchanted coachman Lizard recounts the Cinderella story from his reptilian viewpoint. Traveler elves Naddie and Earl relate how they developed a symbiotic relationship with the village cobbler. Gay Prince Zola remembers finding his true love after a sleepless night on a pile of mattresses. Rosey tells how she barely escaped from a sexual predator en route to Gran’s house. These and other stories blend the magical and the mundane as well as the familiar and the foreign. Together they offer memorable storytellers, magical tales and marvelous language that should indeed help balance the world.
Stories make the world go around in Blubaugh’s debut novel. Sometimes, when the world tilts off its axis, only the magical power of story can put things back to right. That’s where Mama Inez steps in. Using her gift of entering people’s lives in subtle yet mysterious ways, she gathers an eclectic group together for a night of storytelling. Each invited guest provides a talisman and a story, and together they set the world back to its rightful state. Weaving together unique variants of traditional tales, such as The Princess and the Pea, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, and Cinderella, this beautiful novel will be a delight to those who enjoy spin-offs of fairy tales and folktales. Readers will find themselves flipping back and forth to figure out how all the different stories hidden in the fold come together to form the greater whole of this charming book.
And From Ariel at Goodreads:
This was not a novel, this was a piece of art. It’s like one of those marvelous chocolate creations that are too pretty to eat. I enjoyed this book thoroughly.