I’ll be honest. I had a love-hate relationship with this book in the beginning. There was a bit of eye rolling to start out, but that soon turned into a fangirly crush that guarantees I’ll be one of the first in line to pick up the sequel FLESH AND BLOOD in November. The characters have such incredible personalities they practically leap off the page.
The writing is excellent. Passionate, gripping, and exciting. So, yes, I had a lot of fun with this book, but it had some flaws which I feel would make me remiss if I failed to mention them. There are some logic fails and a couple of TSTL moments, as well as a lack of explanation as to why some things occurred.
One of the major points which is never made fully clear is exactly how Mal was granted Chrysabelle’s blood rights. If I understand the mythos correctly, vampires come to the comarré house and place a monetary “bid” for the companionship of a comarré (female) or comar (male). This gives the vampire the rights to do whatever they like—I think just short of killing their companion—for the next 100 years. The comarré then has the option to either fight to the death for their freedom and to regain their blood rights, or to remain by the vampire’s side. It’s unclear if the bond between patron and comarré is mystical other than that the vampire’s saliva injected during their bite grants the comarré some special perks, e.g., slows aging/extends their lifespan/grants them extra speed, stamina, agility, whatever.
Chrysabelle is knocked unconscious at one point and Mal directs another vampire who is acting as a doctor to use her blood in a transfusion for someone else. Did he suddenly get some mystical claim to her blood rights that way? If so, it’s never exactly explained why or how it ties in to the established mythos. It was very odd to see her fighting with him over whether or not he had her blood rights—him saying no, her saying yes. I thought she wanted her freedom?
Also, “Special snowflake-ism” runs rampant. (Heroine: Pale skin, long/pale hair, golden tattoos, violet eyes, vampire-crack blood, excellent fighter. Hero: Vampire, super hot, magnetic attraction to heroine, emotionally tortured, silver eyes when hungry/horny/excited, excellent fighter. Side character #1: Ghost, died at vampire hero’s hand, can occasionally take a corporeal form and feed said vamp her blood [?!]. Side character #2: Were-housecat, who occasionally functions as comic relief, and is hot/built/powerful in his human form. Need I go on?)
Here’s the thing—despite its flaws, it is still a very enjoyable book. Part of the reason I was able to forgive all of the above and soldier on is that the story and the way it was written reminds me of the glory days of roleplaying Vampire: the Masquerade / World of Darkness online back in the 90’s/early 00’s. It hit a very personal note for me on that level, and that played a huge part in why I devoured this book very nearly in a single sitting.
Also, some of the world building is very intriguing, and I’m quite curious to find out more about the comarré and their long term plans. This series does have a lot of potential, and I am hopeful that Painter will take the time to explain in future books some of the things which were not made clear or seemed to jump the shark. It may seem early to say anything is jumping the shark considering this is only the first book, but the contradictions of the mythos and character derailment that pepper the story may (note: not will but may) give you a bit of reading whiplash. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone so I’m not going to go into much detail here. It’s entirely possible you won’t notice what I did when you’re reading, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.
My opinion is that people who are able to turn off their logic-meters and just enjoy the story for the sake of the action and intrigue will get a kick out of it. You might hit a few speed bumps along the way, but it’s like watching a movie along the lines of Last Action Hero, Waterworld, Air Force One, etc. Don’t question too closely, don’t nitpick the details, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Regardless of whatever else I’ve said, it’s a fun story, and–if nothing else–the characters make it a worthwhile read.
If you can’t bring yourself to turn your logic-meter off, you will likely take issue with it. If you’re like me, and you went through a teenage phase where you played vampires and hunters on AOL, I think you’ll be just as sucked into this story as I was.
This review has been trimmed (as if it isn't long enough already). See my blog for the full review: http://jesshaines.com/blog/2011/09/02/book-review-blood-rights/