For Mab Prowd, practicing blood magic is as natural as breathing. Growing up on an isolated farm with others that practice is all she's ever known, but it's given her a sense of purpose, a connection to the land around her, and she's protective of the magic. Plus, she's able to practice openly with the crows as her companions, to keep the magic alive while guarding its secrets. But then a spell goes wrong one morning and she meets Will Sanger, a local, and very normal, boy with some personal demons he wants to get rid of. His brief encounter with Mab's magic leaves his mind scrambling to understand it, and he's all too eager to end their chance meeting. But secrets, those kept from Mab and past users of blood magic, have a way of resurfacing, and soon she and Will are drawn together again by something looking to break from from the earth and take back its power.The Blood Keeper is a return to a world first introduced in Blood Magic, a return to a place rich with secrets and magic, a place where the blood coursing through your veins holds untold power, and letting it loose can either help or hurt those around you. Part sequel and part companion novel, this is a story about dealing with the present while battling the past, told in alternating viewpoints and gorgeously crafted prose.Five years later and in a different state, the reader meets Mab and Will instead of returning to Silla and Nick. Also, the tone of this differs greatly from the first, not so dark, not so heavy, not so dangerously all-consuming. Instead, The Blood Keeper felt oddly sweeter but by no means any safer or any less magical. Among the wide-open fields, the trees with trinkets and crows filling their branches, the roses, there is evil, the evilness that people do to each other out of spite and jealousy and hatred.The sweetness comes from Mab, her world filled with blood magic and spells, with happiness and love and affection with those who practice, with connections to the land around her gained through blood and ritual. She has such compassion, such a gentle nature, and it plays well against Will's skepticism. For once, there is a main character who knows nothing about the blood magic, about the world that Mab (as well as Silla and Nick) grew up in, a character who was, for all intents and purposes, completely normal. Not counting his nightmares.But there's something else lurking in the story, hidden away in Gratton's prose, hidden from Mab and everyone else at the Pink House, hidden in the letters of a young girl, and when the secret comes to life, the world as Mab knows it changes and leaves her and Will scrambling.I was surprised when I noticed this dark and dangerous thing, this shadow, creeping up and into the pages, then was surprised again when I realized it was always there, waiting, waiting for the right moment. It's proof of Gratton's wonderful storytelling and weaving together of characters and plot and surprises that it took me so long to figure it out, and that when I did I wasn't angry at myself for not realizing it. I was more in awe of how everything fit together so perfectly.There is magic in blood, magic and power, but there are also connections. There's magic in the earth, in animals, in people, in the simple things in life, and when evil comes to take a piece, it will be beaten down by any means necessary. Those who were fascinated by Gratton's debut will be just as thrilled with this offering, and I can only hope there will be more of this world in the future.