I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Blood Kings by Shade Owens
Series: Blood Kings #1
Published by Red Raven Publishing on 04/18/2023
Genres: Dystopian, Horror, Science Fiction, Thrillers
Stranded. No prison guards. Kill or be killed.
After being wrongly convicted of murder, eighteen-year-old Leo Hart is sentenced to serve time in the worst place imaginable—Krimos Islands. This cluster of penal islands is said to be reserved for the most heinous of convicts. Murderers. Sociopaths. Wicked men capable of taking a life without a second thought. And Leo is anything but wicked. He’s soft—too soft, according to his brother. He’ll never survive. But when Leo discovers that part of Krimos Islands is inhabited by a society of men searching to atone for past mistakes, he knows this is his only shot at survival. The only problem is, getting there is nearly impossible. Leo will have to travel across gang territory just to reach the next island, which is said to be even more dangerous than the one he started on. Whether he reaches his destination will depend on who he trusts, and how much of his humanity he’s willing to shed.
Content Warning: Blood, Gore, Murder, Drug Use, Death
I love when a book moves through several genres and Blood Kings does that and does it well. As I read through the book, the dystopian vibes became very clear – the manner in which life-sentence prisoners are dealt with is very dystopian in nature. Then you have the horror, which is readily apparent in the way people are treating each other on these islands.
I like Leo – he’s the kind of character that you want to root for. You want him to find a way out of the predicament he’s found himself in. You want him to get away, to win. Even if you haven’t got a clue what he’s actually winning if he does win… you want him to win. I also enjoy Niles. He’s a great “best friend” for Leo. Even though it seems like Leo cares more about Niles than Niles does about Leo, I’m certain that Niles cares just as much as Leo.
The plot for this book is a more unique twist on dystopian horror. Life sentence prisoners are exiled to the Krimos Islands where they are expected to live out their days however they can. It is unclear how long these prisoners have been sent to the islands, but it is long enough that prisoners have established settlements, gangs, etc. on the islands. It’s great plot and I really enjoyed it.
The writing is easy to follow and fairly quick to read. It took me a few days to read this book, but that was more because I had other things I had to do instead of reading like I wanted to. Still, I don’t think it took more than 3 days to read.
The ending is sort of a cliffhanger. Not an “Oh crap!” cliffhanger, but more of a “darn it, the book is over but I need more” cliffhanger. It is the first book in a series though, so we’ll get to find out what happens to our favorite characters. I gave it 4/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian horror thriller books.