Blood and Wonder Book review
Blood and Wonder is an interesting mix of fantasy and western in a post-apocalyptic like setting. This setting is well utilized and colors the entire narrative, even affecting the narrative in tangible ways. The desert, with its various environments and dangers, is vibrant and immersive, providing a striking backdrop to a narrative that revolves around a caravan of doctors migrating through it while pursued by a gypsy-like wagon of bad-magic miracle workers.
The medical section of the book are particularly well implemented, full of specific information, knowledge and tools to render the medicine (and characters practicing it) credible. At least to someone largely ignorant of the field, which I imagine encapsulates most readers. While clear efforts were made to cultivate this authenticity, it is never oppressive, or overly extensive; you are given taste in relevant scenes, flavor text to help define the characters, the world, and make everything feel more real.
The character are likable, well distinguished from one another, and given fairly recognizable personalities. Hale probably has the strongest character, as the motivation driving his personality and interactions are the most evident and complex. Aurelia’s good as well, but the book probably does worship her a bit too much via Roe and Hale’s adoration. It’s not that she doesn’t deserve respect for her achievements and skills as a doctor, but her abilities as a doctor are largely equivalent to Hale and Roe’s and she doesn’t really do anything immensely noteworthy or impressive through most of the book. (She does have feats, but much of the praise heaped upon her has nothing to do with those feats, and said feats don’t occur until the climax.) Roe is good, but lacks the meat of narrative conflict given to Hale and Aurelia.
There is a fair amount of humor throughout the book (though it is not a comedy; the humor is more in the fashion of camaraderie and relationship building) and I found Roe’s many nick names for Aurelia particularly endearing.