The Blood Curse (Gardens of War & Wasteland #2), by Jessica A. McMinn

The Book

The Blood Curse
Series: Gardens of War & Wasteland
Pages: 454
Age Group: Adult
Published on 3/30/2024
Publisher: Self-Published
Available on:


Amika has left Holania in ruins.

Grief-stricken and betrayed, she is on a fiery path to set things right—even if it means submitting to prophecy’s chain. Emboldened by her growing powers, Amika heads towards the wastelands of Qhoraak to rescue her brother and drag another Chosen into destiny’s sick game.

With demonspawn mobilising in unprecedented numbers, she and Rei-Hai Shaw must confront the dangers awaiting them beyond the western border… and those lurking within their shadows.

Kriah, adrift at sea, struggles with the aftermath of breaking the first seal. Now, Azet’haal and his Meah-Hyren army know of the plan to revive the Goddess and it’s only a matter of time before they make their move on the mainland.But as a new threat spreads across the east, Kriah must uncover the origins of the deadly blood plague and convince the vulnerable people of Whyt’hallen that it is not the old Sickness they fear.

Or did breaking the first seal release more than just a lock on the Goddess’s soul?

My Review

The Blood Curse is the second book in the grimdark series Gardens of War & Wasteland, direct sequel to the SPFBO9 semifinalist The Ruptured Sky, written by Jessica A. McMinn. With all the foundations established in the first book, McMinn has put together a bigger and more ambitious scope, introducing characters that I hope remain with us until the end, and especially, more intense.

After breaking the first seal, Amika heads towards the wastelands of Qhoraak, emboldened by her power, trying to rescue her brother and hopefully, meeting another chosen that can be put in the sick game of destiny; she's in the company of Rei-Hai. However, Rei-Hai is slowly succumbing to the curse on his blood, and the amount of demonspawn being mobilised is making it even more dangerous.
Kio's terrible situation is alleviated after the ship he was being transported is assaulted by pirates; and by chance, their paths were bound to cross. This new band of characters takes part of the show, especially Emanals and her quest that will become a big part of the plot (and hopefully it continues in the following books).
Kriah is struggling with the aftermath of the first seal, trying to convince the people of Whythallen that the blood curse is not the Sickness they fear, and taking them to the correct path, far from charlatans and tricksters.

While the first book was a great introduction, certainly this one makes a better labour of touching the emotional parts, portraying flawed characters that are struggling to deal with the circumstances and the problems that are devastating the world. McMinn also takes the opportunity to delve deeper into the romantic aspects of the plot, adding a bit of spice to the dish.

The world gets expanded, and the consequences of The Ruptured Sky are starting to affect them; I found Qhoorak to be a really original place, which reminds me partly of Australian deserts. Kriah's POV can be a less bit engaging than the others, but still has some high points that makes it worthwhile.

If you liked the Ruptured Sky, you are going to love The Blood Curse, as it is not only a great sequel, but a step-up in McMinn's writing; if you are a fan of the grimdark genre, this would be an excellent moment to pick Gardens of War & Wasteland.

The Author/s

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn is a grimdark fantasy author based in regional Australia with a passion for dark fantasy, dark coffee and cats (which, let’s face it, are all dark inside).

Since graduating from the University of Wollongong with Distinction in BCA (Creative Writing) and BA (Japanese), Jessica spent five years in Japan teaching English while refining her writing craft.

She now works as a freelance writer and offers editing and coaching services to authors. When she is not writing (which is more often than you’d think), Jessica can be found raising her two beautiful children or immersed in an audiobook while drawing, crafting or playing video games.

Her debut novel, The Ruptured Sky, is the first installment in the gritty dark fantasy quartet, Gardens of War & Wasteland, and is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb, Anna Stephens and R F Kuang.