Skip to content
Home » Blog » Blood Flowers: Is Jay McGuiness’ Debut Novel Good?

Blood Flowers: Is Jay McGuiness’ Debut Novel Good?

This post is a review of Blood Flowers by Jay McGuiness. I am not affiliated with them. All opinions are my own.

The Wanted star, Jay McGuiness, has decided to foray into writing with his debut YA fantasy novel, Blood Flowers. He has also won strictly Come Dancing (Series 13). Readers of my blog may recognise the name from my last blog post, a review of 2:22: A Ghost Story. You can read that blog post here.

Spoiler-Free Overview

Blood Flowers is a very solid debut novel. It has likeable characters in the form of Bear, Felix and Megg. It has some complex family dynamics revolving around Bear and his father, as well as realistic friendships.

While I had mixed feelings about some elements of this book, which I will detail in the spoiler section, I liked it. It’s not my favourite fantasy book, but I enjoyed it and hope for a sequel.

The cover for Blood Flowers by Jay McGuiness
The cover for Blood Flowers by Jay McGuiness

Now for the spoiler section. If you don’t want to read spoilers, or want to read the book first before reading spoilers, click off now. I won’t be upset, I promise.

The Characters of Blood Flowers

Overall, the main characters were very likeable, except for one who I’m sure wasn’t supposed to be likeable. The other characters, including Bear’s family and the other Cobblesiders, were varied and interesting, even if it was sometimes difficult to tell a few of them apart.

Bear, the main character, is easily my favourite. He is relatable in how he cares about his family, even though they may not always agree or like Bear. Felix, Bear’s friend, is also a good character. The discrimination he faces for being Fennex is similar to what some people unfortunately experience in reality. I liked his character development but I would like to know why Fennex are discriminated against. Fennex serve as thee Queen’s guard, but in Calleston, Felix treated differently. Megg felt a little lacking as she did not go on all the adventures that Bear and Felix did, which made her feel like the odd one out of the friend group. Despite that, she was still likeable.

As for Meya, I find her character conflicting. While at the end, it is obvious she is supposed to be hated for endangering Cobbleside by letting in blots, I’m not sure whether the reader is supposed to liker her or not in the beginning. It seems like it hints towards Bear liking Meya, and Felix even jokes about it, but when Bear is Roofside and talking to Meya, she seems to switch to defend her father despite knowing that her father is being truthful about the horrible things he’s done to try to ruin Calleston. If Meya and her father had a loving, on-page relationship, I would understand, but we see very little of their relationship so I’m not sure why Meya doesn’t believe her father could have lied to her.


I enjoyed the plot of this book, especially the first half. However, I found the plot lacking in some places. Since there is a big build up to Field Day, for both the readers and the characters, once Field Day happens, the book feels a little directionless. I also think there could have been more foreshadowing for Megg being a witch as the biggest hint is a mouse visiting Bear and it’s never really linked to Megg.

Writing Style

The writing style of Blood Flowers is perfect for its YA audience. It’s fairly straightforward and not too convoluted, but also provides good descriptions. I particularly liked the descriptions on enlacing with the sinsenn seeds as well as the run down nature of Cobbleside. While I thought the beginning had a little too much exposition, it wasn’t all in huge chunks.

Book Formatting (Paperback Edition)

The copy of the book had no formatting issues as far as I was aware. I loved the stylised chapter numbers with petals around them. But, most importantly of all, there is a map. I love maps in books, and this is no exception. While the map doesn’t do justice to the buildings stacks on top of each other, I still love the inclusion of it.

The Ending of Blood Flowers

I thought the ending was dramatic and tense. After Field Day, there’s a lingering uncertain feeling. After the assassination attempt of the Queen, Megg’s interrogation and execution, it seems that the big events are over. Until Bear moves to Roofside and discovers the truth about what the Overlord and his soldiers are doing.

As I said earlier, Meya’s turn from spoiled but curious rich girl to insane and trying to kill Cobblesiders makes very little sense. For me, there is a lot going on at the end. There’s little time to feel the grief from the deaths that happen, except for Megg where Bear numbs himself with ruby brew. But in regards to the Cobblesider’s deaths, and the deaths in Bear’s family, I’d have liked it explored more.


As I’m not entirely sure where to put this part, I’ll put it here.

This story is described as “for fans of The Hunger Games, The Atlas Six and Leigh Bardugo” in its Goodreads description. While I haven’t read The Atlas Six or much Leigh Bardugo, I find the comparison to The Hunger Gamers very surface level. Rich and poor people are segregated, and if the poor people succeed they can live in luxury and it seems very surface level. There is very little in the way of a death tournament or rebellion, unless they will follow in later books.

While I know this is not likely the author’s intention and is more down to marketing, disingenuous marketing can make the book seem worse than it is just because it didn’t reach its intended audience. There’s also a line about Bear having to make decisions around love in the blurb. I kept waiting for it to happen and there wasn’t really anything. I think this is a common problem in publishing, but the marketing needs to be honest to attract to disappoint less.

Overall Opinion of Blood Flowers

Overall, I think this is a solid debut book. It is engaging and enjoyable despite its flaws, which are subjective. I hope there is a sequel to explore Bear’s complicated emotions, particularly in regards to his father, as well as whatever Meya is doing, and what is going to happen to Calleston. As the book is very open ended, I am certain there will be at least one sequel.

I recommend this book for Ya fantasy fans and for anyone interested in Jay Mcuiness’ writing for whatever reason, since I think this is a good start and hope he writes more books.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *