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Can you blame the choices they will make?
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This was a great first book of a duology. It felt like a mix of the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter and the rich sectors from the Hunger Games while still being an original story. The world-building drove this tale of villainy and allowed morally gray characters to flourish.
In this world magic is just a part of life. High magic was used up hundreds of years ago and only common magic exists. Or so everyone thought until a tell-all book was released detailing a small town called Ilvernath, where one source still exists protected by an 800-year-old curse. In the beginning, seven powerful families vied and schemed for this source of power until they came up with a solution where they cast a curse on themselves. Every twenty years they must produce a champion to enter a
tournament during the blood veil to fight to the death. The last champion standing receives the rights to the high magic for another twenty years.

This story is told in the alternating perspective of four of the slaughter seven as the media has dubbed
these instant celebs. Imagine preparing your whole life for the inevitability of dueling to death. They are raised to honor their family and the tradition passed on. They are raised to want to be the chosen one. They must harden their hearts to the inevitability of being a murderer or dead.
For the first time in 800 years, things may be different than before.
Gavin Grieves is tired of the fact that no one in his family has ever won the tournament and permits a curse maker, Reid MacTavish, to perform taboo magic on him. He is now a vessel; His magic is fueled by his life force and when it is empty, he will die. What choice does he have? He will die in the tournament as a certainty otherwise with no one willing to sponsor the Grieves knowing they are always the losers and knowing his magic is not naturally as strong. He is not ready for the unpredictable consequences of his magic and in the end, makes a startling realization that could really turn him into an unstoppable monster, but can we blame him for the choices he makes?
Briony Thorburn knew she would be the champion. Growing up on stories of the valor of her family, she was quick to tell her friend and her boyfriend that of course, she would kill them in the tournament once they are all chosen. However, with the government now alert to this tournament they have researched the families and determined that her family is the best family to support and that her younger sister is the easiest to control and coerce her family to choose Innes. Briony changes the pattern though. She does something reprehensible to her sister in order to save her life and enter the tournament in her stead. Reid MacTavish tells her there are two ways to stop a curse a safe and a dangerous way. Filled with hope she tried to convince the others that they could work to end the curse and that no one has to die. You would think they would all be willing to jump aboard and try to end it, right? However, they all know the year that all the champions chose not to kill and, in the end, the curse killed them all and no one had high magic for twenty years.
Isobel Macaslan and Alistair Lowe were two of my favorite characters. I wanted them to have a romantic relationship. However, how can they when they will have to kill each other in the tournament? Yet, they both keep saving each other when they would otherwise die. Circumstances keep changing for them and their actions have complex reasons from moment to moment as they both try to survive and take turns believing Briony’s crazy theory that they really could end the curse. They both are in dire straights in the end and my heart is on the line hoping that they find a loophole in the next book to save them from the mess they are in.

Final Verdict: In an ever-shifting series of events, consequences, hope, and betrayal the curse is set to
destabilize. Some events have led to a stable dissipation and some events have led to an explosive end.
We will have to see in the next book which way wins. However, it is called All our Demise so it is
anyone’s guess whether they will survive or not. This page-turning topsy turvy read will make you
question over and over what would you do. There is no one clearly evil or clearly good and their actions keep creating an ever-muddying series of morally gray outcomes where all of them are villains.
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