Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blood Rights (House of Comarré 1) by Kristen Painter

The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely-wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers.

Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré—a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.

Now Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign.

Reviewer: Amlyt
I’m still of two minds about this book which is disappointing because I was determined to like it. What’s not to like about a vampire story with an original twist and well developed secondary world – AND ever-increasing cast of different supernatural beings? Written in a good prose, no less. Usually it'd be just the kind of story I gobble down and ask for more. But this one didn’t quite live up to its promise.

The most original premise of Blood Rights is presenting the vampire blood servants (comarre) not as glorified slaves, but as a secret society with a hidden agenda. This idea really warms my little human heart. Their real purpose remains unknown, but it won’t do to show all the cards in the first part of a trilogy either. The plot doesn’t really start up until about Chapter 6, but once it does you barely have time to register the new places and faces. Which is actually a pity, because they were the most interesting thing about the book, besides the main premise. Lots of different fae species you’ve never met in mythology, a ghost that’s haunting a vampire and can turn corporeal, a vampire who was yakuza boss’ widow before, a Christian vampire who turned himself on his own by mistake. Too bad this delightfully rich imagination deserts the author when it comes to the relationships and feelings.

The most frustrating part for me as a reader was that the heroes never became quite alive. If we don’t count their different abilities and/or curses, there’s nothing to tell them apart – no personal characteristics, no quirks, no typical behavior or figures of speech (the only attempt at the latter was made with the shifter). The main heroine was probably the main disappointment. And there were long pages with descriptions how they all feel about this or that – enough for character building, I’d think. And how many clichéd, mentally unbalanced, minion-kicking villains with snakes for pets could there be? Apparently, not enough, because the author saw fit to create yet another one, and give her pages of text so we could better understand this one-dimensional character’s motives and tribulations. But to read about Tatiana was frankly boring.

Finally, I never understood why the book had to be set in the future (2067) when this future world really didn’t differ from the present one. Granted, remarks about Islamic Republic of France and microchip implants were found but none of these “different” details had any impact on the plot. Lifts, cars, planes, cellphones – the usual kind of technology only, and the Paradise City looked like your average American city in any contemporary criminal story. Moreover, the heroes mostly used downright medieval weapons – swords and daggers and good old magic, not even a pistol with silver bullets in sight. Normally, I don’t have problem with sword-wielding in fantasy, but it didn’t do much for the supposedly futuristic setting either. I’ve read on and on, hoping to find the clue – nope, nothing.

So, a story with a great potential, but I felt more frustration than enjoyment while reading it. However, I treasure new ideas in a pretty worn-out genre too much too give the book less than 3 stars.

See the original review on goodreads


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