Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Bastard Reaction: Blood Rights by Kristen Painter
Drinking blood has never been described in a more enticing and delicious manner than how Kristen Painter has portrayed in Blood Rights. First book in the House of Comarré series, in what has been described as a "Gothic Urban Fantasy". This was a book I was hesitant to try, on a first glance it seemed like the kind of book I wouldn't enjoy. A voice, one that I'm sure I'm not imagining, told me I was being an idiot and convinced me to read the book (maybe it was Justin from Staffer's Musings); glad I did because this was quite a cool read.
This is the story of Chrysabelle, a comarré, who's on the run from noble vampires on the suspicion that she murdered her patron, a noble vampire himself. She's pursued by Tatiana, a power hungry and sadistic noble vampire, seeking for an object of power that will forever change the status quo between humans and vampires. Lastly, there's Malkom a disgraced former noble vampire who is poised to be the only chance Chrysabelle has to survive; if he doesn't kill her first.
The book takes place in the year 2067, and the world is quite a different place as it regards world control and politics. Technology wise, there's not much advancement from what we know at the present, but there's room for introducing more advanced technology. The world is populated by a myriad of supernatural beings which humanity is ignorant to. Many of them are introduced, particularly of the fey and were variety, but only superficially. The comarré come off as geisha spymaster warriors, raised to a life of servitude to vampires by providing them the purest of bloods, and whatever benefits it might bring.
Blood Rights is a multi-POV third person narrative, featuring mainly the 3 characters already mentioned. I'm having a bit of trouble coming up with a description of the story, as I'm finding a lot of contradiction to my instincts. Gut check reaction tells me that there's quite a bit of "romance" in this book, but that's really not true at all. There's a weird lust filled and erotic scenario, without it really being either. There's just not a sexually charged motivation in this book, other than a great need to feed, sustain, survive. I think part of it is how Painter describes this particular need in a way that it's emotionally charged and desired which confuses; and it works.
It works because the characterization of the two heroes is excellent. We spend a lot of time in their heads, introspecting and we really start feeling their need as if it were our own, and plenty of good imagery to go with it. I'd be surprised if a reader doesn't come off after reading this book jonesing for a vein to slurp some blood. It also works because Chrysabelle and Malkom are both strong likable characters, in a way that reminds me a bit of Kate Daniels and Curran from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews; as a unit. On the sexual side, there's really one real sex scene which I recall, which in truth comes off as some weird willing torture rape...you'd have to read it to understand.
I have a couple of complaints, first in the beginning we get introduced to what could potentially be a very interesting political intrigue subplot, but it really doesn't get touched more throughout the rest of the book; maybe only in passing. I'm hoping we see more of it in the subsequent books. The other one is that two thirds into the book, the plot forward momentum stops. We pretty much get stuck in a ship setting, with our heroes dancing around each other playing the "I trust you, I trust you not" dance without really going anywhere as far as plot progress. The other side of it, is the time is well spent developing the characters and their psyche which will appeal to some, particularly if you enjoy the tension of the relationship, or lack of one. Once we get done with that, the plot moves in a rapid exciting pace.
These issues aside, the book is really action packed; even during the down moments there's soon to be an action sequence. I thought the world building was very good in many regards, but I look forward to exploring more of the world on a macro scale. Our heroes are quite kickass, and I'm sure they'll become favorites of many. It's also populated by some good side characters, some fun ones, which I very much look forward to reading more about. There's just a lot of aspects this series has the opportunity to explore, and more than anything I think it's what has me interested in the series.
The cover I think it's quite awesome, done by Nekro.
At the moment I'm highly recommending Blood Rights to any urban fantasy reader, even those that are romance averse, though I'm aware that many of the scenes have the potential of not being to your liking on that regard. I think the book has done a good job balancing the elements, and includes plenty of action that should appeal fans of the sub-genre mixed with a good dosage of emotional drama and self-exploration. For those worried about having to wait for the next book, the sequel just came out Flesh and Blood and the third book in the House of Comarré is due out at the end of the month, Bad Blood. Looking forward to what Kristen Painter has planned for the series.
You can buy all the books in the House of Comarré series here:
Flesh and Blood
Make sure to visit Kristen Painter's website and blog for more information on this and her other books.