Prepare to step into a world of magic with Blood Debts, the fantasy book debut of author Terry J. Benton-Walker. Arriving next April, Blood Debts, which is set against the beautiful backdrop of New Orleans, is a murder mystery with plenty of romance, power, and intrigue.
Blood Debts is centered on twin protagonists Cristina “Cris” and Clement “Clem” Trudeau. Heirs to a powerful, magical, and dethroned family, the pair realize their sick mother has been cursed by someone on the magic council who’s ready to rule. In order to save their mother and fend off the rival ruling families, the twins will have to mend their strained relationship, but that seems easier said than done.
Benton-Walker teased that readers can expect a book that deals with “a magic system deeply rooted in culture.” He added that there’s a juicy murder mystery, complex families dynamics, Black gay romance, and powerful families battling for control of the magical community of contemporary New Orleans.
Speaking with Teen Vogue, Benton-Walker explained that he wanted to step into the world of fantasy after watching Game of Thrones. “Discovering a new side to old friends—a side where we got to be geeks about queens and dragons—was its own type of magic,” he says. “But wielding that magic, for so many of us, meant doing so by way of characters who looked nothing like us. I created the world of Blood Debts for Black and Black Queer kids who deserve to see themselves centered in a fantasy story, too.”
He continued, “The original story changed several years ago, after I found myself in a dark place, stripped of my autonomy and forced to find a way to move forward in the face of injustice—both in my personal life and the world at large. Writing Blood Debts during that period of my life allowed me to explore my complex feelings about justice and probe the nuances of morality, the effects of intergenerational trauma, and the cycle of violence. I put a lot of myself and my emotion into Blood Debts—and it helped me heal. And I hope it helps other people heal, too.”
Benton-Walker wants readers to “to explore, through the eyes of these characters, what it means to stand up for yourself in the terrifying face of injustice, the multi-faceted impact of
intergenerational trauma, and the dangers of perpetuating the cycle of violence.”
He adds, “Most importantly, I want Black and Black Queer teens—and adults, y’all can enjoy it, too—to finish this book and hug it close to their chest, because they love and identify with it so much.”
You’ll have to wait until April to fully step into the magical world of Blood Debts, but for now, you can take a temporary sneak peek with an excerpt of chapter three. In this section we’re introduced to Valentina Savant. Benton-Walker hints that Valentina is inspired by Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones and himself. “I put a lot of “me” in Valentina, as someone who too often got stuck in “survival mode” myself, I imprinted much of my own drive and tenacity into her character.”