Cover of The Blood Within The Stone by T.R. Thompson. It shows a stone castle-like structure at night. Behind it in the sky is a creepy figure.

The Blood Within the Stone is Book 1 of the Wraith Cycle. In it, T.R. Thompson gives the reader a dark and creepy story that exists in what I would consider a fantasy world. The magic in this world is unlike anything I’ve seen before in either a book or movie. This is not a book for children – but adults who enjoy a mix of fantasy, magic, and horror will enjoy this book as much as I did.

It starts with a poem. Four lines that rhyme and whisper hints about something beyond the reader’s knowledge. One really quick way to get my attention is to give me poetry, especially a poem that appears to hold a secret.

The Blood Within the Stone is a book that I found difficult to put down. I quickly became so invested in the characters that I needed to know what would happen to them.

The scene is set with a short passage that describes “when the trees cease their chatter and the shadows lie heavy on the leaves”. A lone guard is afraid of the darkness and what it might hold. It turns out, the guard has good reason to be nervous.

The reader starts inside the head of Wilt, a boy who is attempting to complete a test that involves stealing something from the local Blacksmith. If he successfully completes the test, he might be invited to join the thieves guild. Wilt had been a thief for most of his life, it seems. Plenty of other children resort to this dangerous work as well. Greystone seems to have an abundance of homeless children.

Things do not go as expected.

Some time ago, Wilt met a younger boy named Higgs (who was attempting to pick Wilt’s purse). Instead of beating up Higgs, Wilt took Higgs with him, fed the very skinny boy, and found him a safe place to sleep for the night. The two eventually became inseparable. It turned out that Higgs had some excellent thief skills of his own – especially when it came to finding food.

It turns out that Wilt has a special ability that lets him get inside other people’s heads. He can read their thoughts, and tends to use that information to enhance his ability to steal purses from people without being caught. Wilt doesn’t know where this ability came from, and doesn’t seem interested in finding out.

One day, the head of the thieves guild (which both Wilt and Higgs have become a part of) alerts Wilt that a Prefect from Redmondis would be visiting Graystone. In short, the boys track them, but are noticed. Not willing to give up, they continue tracking the Prefect, along with the other two robed people accompanying him.

Wilt and Higgs watch from above, and discover that there was no Prefect. In the Prefect’s place was a Sister, one of nine women who are connected to each other’s minds, and who are incredibly brutal.

Greystone holds a festival that includes a physical game between two teams. It is a mix of rugby and “capture the flag”. It was an exciting part of the book, described so well that I felt as though I was among the people in the stands who were cheering the team they bet money on. Wilt ends up playing on one of the teams. The game ends in a frightening and ominous way.

Without providing any “spoilers”, I will say that Wilt and Higgs end up going on a journey, traveling by wagons to Redmondis. A kind man helps Wilt to recover from an injury. He teaches both Wilt and Higgs how to hone their already existing magic skills. I found the way magic works in this book to be interesting and unique; a mix of the natural with risk of an underlying darkness that one could lose control to. Old magic that had been forbidden.

Wilt accidentally learns how easy it could be to give in to that darkness.

Eventually, the caravan ends up at the gates of Redmondis, an imposing place with rock walls. Wilt, Higgs, and the other initiates file into a courtyard, where they eventually are separated. The Cantors choose students based on their skills. Eventually, they are led to a dormitory where they share a room with a roommate.

Things get pretty boring for a while for Wilt. Higgs, on the other hand, has figured out how to use his skills to obtain hard to find items and good food.

In time, things get more dangerous. Both of the boys start using magic they learned from the kind man who was part of the caravan. They didn’t know it yet, but they were going to need it. Things quickly become very dark and dangerous. Would Wilt be strong enough to use his magic skills to fight against evil? Or would he dive into the deeper, darker, unknown magic from far below?

I am looking forward to finding out how the story unfolds in Book Two of The Wraith Cycle.

The Blood Within The Stone – by T.R. Thompson is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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