Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao- A Discussion

Blood Heir, by Amélie Wen Zhao
Goodreads ¦ Amazon
Series?: Blood Heir Trilogy #1
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Length: 464 pages
Source: ARC
Format: Paperback
Times Read: Once
Rating: 4/5

blood heir cover

This hot debut is the first book in an epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the con man she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.


HI! Show of hands, who heard of this book before today for a reason that was less than positive?

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Thaaat’s right, this one was almost never published! If there’s a chance you don’t know the story already, this was supposed to be published over the summer, but after a firestorm started by a few early readers, the author herself asked the publisher to stop publication.

Slate has a good article here on the accusations of racism she faced, along with all the reasons that HEY it might not actually be so racist after all. And the author did an interview with NPR a few days ago, showing more of her perspective.

I had an original ARC of this and had been SUPER excited to read about the-princess-is-a-monster-but-make-it-Anastasia. But when Twitter told me it was racist, that the author was trash, I listened. When the author canceled the book herself, I quietly shelved it and moved on.

But THEN! Amélie took a beat, reread her work, tweaked a few things, and decided to publish anyway. So I got to read my ARC after all! AND…I didn’t see the problem. Like…at all.

I haven’t read a finished copy yet, so I don’t know what changes were made. But I couldn’t figure out what she needed to clarify. Like…at all.

Thing is, I don’t know that it’s really my place to say if something is or isn’t racist, high from my mountain of white privilege. I can educate myself, I can empathize, I can sympathize, and I can listen–but I don’t live what people of color live. And their history isn’t mine.

So I want to hear from you guys! What are your thoughts on this whole thing? Did you read an ARC or pick up a copy today? Did you know it’s going to be featured in at least two book boxes this month? If you didn’t know anything about it, are you more or less likely to based on the drama? SERIOUSLY TELL ME I DON’T KNOW ANYONE ELSE WHO HAS READ IT YET!

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11 thoughts on “Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao- A Discussion

  1. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

    Great discussion! I’ve heard of some authors reworking parts of their book ahead of publication because of backlash – and also heard that a lot of these authors are poc which is pretty unacceptable when we consider how many white authors are allowed to get away with some of the crap they write – but I didn’t know this author was one of them.

    To be honest I’ve not been interested in checking this book out just because it’s an Anastasia retelling. I’m a big history lover, so I always find ‘retellings’ of this tragic story a bit inappropriate considering what happened to the family? That’s just me, though, and I completely understand why so many people are drawn to stories that are inspired by it.

    That being said, I’m interested in picking it up now just to support this author. Thanks for linking the interview above – I just read it and found it pretty heartbreaking. There is more than one type of slavery in the world, and it’s an issue that’s stretched beyond American history (something you’d think a lot of the readers would have considered when this story is inspired by Russian history…) and I feel so sorry for her that she had to justify all the research she’d clearly done.

    Thanks for bringing all of this to my attention!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pagesandpugs says:

      I’m really glad this inspired you to read it! I’d love to hear what your thoughts on it are once you do.

      Also, it’s a very loose retelling. I would say more Anastasia “vibes”. I’m not sure I would have even noticed if I didn’t already know about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bookbeachbunny says:

    I’m sorry the twitter stuff only made me want to read this book more. As the author points out there’s a big world and a lot of history and more importantly current problems that are still in play. No one wants to hear about that though as they jumped on the band wagon. Quite frankly it shows more about them. Glad the book is worth the read and you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Athena C says:

    I think people are ridiculous and I also never listen when the internet says things. One person trolled the author, she overreacted, and others jumped on board. The whole thing could have been solved by a few middle fingers and moving on 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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