The Blood Moon rises. The Blood Veil falls. The Tournament begins.
Every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon, seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath each name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death.
The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world–one thought long depleted.
This year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book, the seven champions are thrust into worldwide spotlight, granting each of them new information, new means to win, and most importantly: a choice – accept their fate or rewrite their story.
But this is a story that must be penned in blood.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
“High magick fell from the stars, and when we found it, we did what humans always do. We decided it was ours to claim.”
Magick is everywhere, but the most elusive kind, high magick, is only found in one place, Ilvernath. There, 7 ancient families fight for control of the most powerful magick in the world, every generation sending a family member into a tournament to the death, with the Champions family earning control of the magcik for that generation. But this year things are slightly different, thanks to a tell all book that was released, the world now knows about this competition, and not everyone views it in a favourable light. This group of champions have been given a spotlight no others have received, and with that the chance to change things for the better. There may be a way to unravel the curse, but can a chance outweigh years of in family fighting and tensions. Tenuous bonds will be formed, and relationships will be tested, but if this group of champions manages to work together they may just end the curse for good, but being villainous is easier than being good, and they are all villains.
All of Us Villains is told from the POV of four of the champions: Alistair Lowe, the last to be announced as champion. The Lowe’s are one of the more renowned families, winning 2 out of every 3 competitions. Alistair has been raised on stories of monsters his whole life, and when he enters the competition he knows why, The Lowe family is made of monsters, and if Alistair wants to win this year, he may just have to become one himself. Isobel Macaslan was the first Champion to be announced, only she never wanted to enter the competition. She believes herself too weak, unable to kill the people she has grown up with, but when it comes down to it, Isobel will do what it takes to survive, even if that means consorting with the enemy and abandoning friends. Briony Thornburn has always known she would be chosen as her families champion, so sure of herself she has trained for it her whole life. But just before she enters she receives some news that changes her whole outlook on the competition. She’s sure she knows a way to defeat the curse for good, she just has to stay alive long enough to convince the others. Gavin Grieve is determined to bring up his families status. The Grieves have always been looked down on, the gum under all the other houses shoes, but Gavin is sure he can win this time.
We also get to see the other 3 champions, as well as members of the families, the town and magical law enforcement sent to overlook the competition. I really loved reading the differences in how the 7 families raise their children and instil their beliefs etc. Their are families who are definitely a little on the creepy/crazy side, and there are others that come across as slightly more normal, but when it comes down to it, they all want their champion to survive and will do whatever it takes to ensure that happens. None of these characters are ‘good guys’ they all complete some pretty heinous acts within and before the competition, but there’s just something about them that resonated with me. Some are definitely more ‘villainous’ than others, gleeful that they have been chosen as champion, whereas others feel more resigned to their roles, but I couldn’t help but root for them the whole way through.
Foody & Herman do a wonderful job of introducing us to the magic system, the seven ruling families and the world in general without it being info dumpy. At the start of each chapter we get an excerpt from ‘A Tradition of Tragedy’ the tell all book that was released about the competition that gives us little insights into everything, and through the four POV’s we learn an awful lot of history about the town, families and competition. There was a pull to this story that just made it impossible to put down, I found myself picking it up in every spare minute I had, I was enamoured with the characters, and thanks to the pacing and well placed plot twists, the one at the end killed me, I found it a struggle to stop reading.
One of the things I loved most about this book was, though it’s violent and brutal, it also has a soft underbelly, one that showed that although these kids may be willing to kill for their families, they’re also just kids. It shows that living under your families shadow can turn you into a monster, but once you’re out of it you can wish to be something else, something more. The addition of romance, as well as friendships between the characters truly showed the brutality of the story, of a town where every generation families sacrifice their young for a chance to rule. But it also shows that coming out from the shadow of your family isn’t as easy as it seems. Raised to believe you need to kill everyone else to ensure your families survival, it’s hard to put that away, and the authors showed this brilliantly through the parallels of the characters and how they act through the book.
This book is perfect for people who like their characters a little more morally grey than usual, and your stories full of darkness. It’s filled with romance, some epic magical fight scenes, and plenty of WTF scenes that actually had me gasping out loud. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but a story that wormed it’s way into mine nonetheless. This is an easy 5 stars, and I’m desperate to get my hands on the sequel after that absolute shocker of an ending.