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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Malasangre is a work of fiction in the supernatural and fantasy subgenres. It is aimed at the adult reading audience and was penned by author Shariyah Levvi. The book follows teenager Diego Malasangre as he leaves the safety of his home in the country with a wish for adventure in 1600s Seville. This wish comes true in ways he didn’t anticipate after he meets the curious pair Donna and Melaku and ends up as the target of religious persecution, running from danger in the forms of hellish visions and magic-users as well as more familiar threats such as the far-reaching shadow of the Catholic Church.
This book makes masterful use of the supernatural, using it as a powerful underscoring of the real-world threats that Diego has to face during his adventure. The supernatural lore of the book is a fresh take on ideas rooted firmly in the kind of zealous Catholicism that was present in 17th-century Spain, and, as such, Shariyah Levvi finds ways of making the most unreal and fantastical ideas feel grounded and natural. This uneasiness about where exactly the line lies between historical fact and supernatural folklore constantly blocks the reader from feeling too certain of their surroundings and the effect is a work of fiction that compels as much as it disquiets. Malasangre is a book of fascinating ideas and beautiful prose being used to explore them, with engaging and exciting characters that I wanted to follow beyond the book's epilogue. An excellent read that I recommend to all.