Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear in Isle of Blood and Stone.

The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side-whether he wants her there or not-Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn. (via Goodreads)

I received an eARC of Isle of Blood and Stone through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Despite all of the plot that goes on in Isle of Blood and Stone, the best word to describe it is quiet. It has quite the intriguing plot behind it, but it really fell flat for me.

I enjoyed the worldbuilding, and the friendships between our three main characters. The world made an effort to be LGB-friendly, by mentioning partners of other genders However, the world of Isle of Blood and Stone is not trans-inclusive in the least.

There are quite a few trans-antagonistic comments throughout the book, including one wondering if a woman with a mustache was “actually a woman.” The way the world works is also incredibly gender-binary based – women can’t train as soldiers, or swim with the boys. They can train as geographers, but they can’t be apprentices because “they’ll go and get married.” It’s pretty bullshit.

I loved Mercedes and Reyna, and I hope that we’ll get more of them. I liked the friends to romance angle that it took, with Ulises always there to annoy them. I wanted more of a reason for the villains to do the things they did. (I know that’s vague, but it’s a huge spoiler.)

I think Isle of Blood and Stone very well could have been my thing, but it needed more punching up to really make it work for me. You can pick up a copy and see for yourself on Amazon.

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.

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