Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bastard Reaction: Hellbent by Cherie Priest

I really enjoyed Bloodshot by Cherie Priest published earlier this year, first of the Cheshire Red Reports. It was fun, fast moving, and some good action. Was excited to learn a sequel was due out months later, one that I read recently. Hellbent continues the story of Raylene Pendle, an OCD vampire and master thief.

After the events of Bloodshot, we see Raylene in a more domestic setting living what can be construed as a family life. She gets contracted to steal mystical penis bones, which doesn't go as planned. Complicating matters, the patriarch from Ian's vampire house is murdered, making Ian next in line to become head of the house, something he can't do since he would get killed himself because of his current handicap. Yet, there are people who could get targeted if he doesn't avail himself, people he cares for. It's up to Raylene to figure out a way around this, travelling to California to investigate the matter. All the while, trying to recover the mystical penis bones in the hands of a crazy sorceress fueling her magic to disastrous proportions.

Hellbent was a fun roadtrip of a book, sadly it was simply that and left me wanting for something more. I really enjoy Raylene as a narrator, which I find to be pretty much the most important aspect in a first person narration. Not only that the book is filled with some good dialogue and plenty of fun banter with other characters. The problem was that the book's plot was lacking and the action very much subdued, particularly when compared with Bloodshot.

I thought the best aspect of the book was Adrian, a Marine drag-queen who has become Raylene's sidekick. He's fairly badass, plus there's some cool banter with Raylene making the novel quite the fun read. But other than that, there wasn't much here. My other problem was that the resolution to the plot was heavily hinted at in the middle of the book, which made the ending quite predictable. Not only that, events occur in quite a convenient manner for our heroes, particularly towards the end. The book has some good humor, but it becomes a bit repetitive after a while so it got old for me fairly quickly.

Action-wise, which was one of the main draws of the first book and what many had praised Bloodshot for, was also scant. Though, at the risk of contradicting myself, there was still quite a bit of action. Problem was when the action was featured it wasn't as exciting as the first book. The sense of tension and danger was not present in this book, something which I thought Bloodshot did quite well.

Hate to be negative on this book because it's still an enjoyable read that I'm sure plenty urban fantasy readers would enjoy, but can't help feeling disappointed with the lackluster plot which didn't grab me. The novel itself serves more as a bridge novel to what is to come, and I'm still looking forward to reading more in the series now that the pieces are in their respective places. Sadly, I just learned that Cherie Priest only has a two book contract for this series, and it's unknown whether she'll be able to return to this series.

As mentioned before, I very much enjoy Raylene as a narrator, a very much needed bright-spot for this book. She comes off as this person you just met in the bar, who is a bit nuts, but there's an instant connection and you became quick best friends. There's an intimacy in the way she narrates, as she was speaking directly at you over a bottle of wine (I'd say beer, but Raylene prefers her wine).

Hellbent is simply quite an entertaining lighthearted roadtrip of a book with an OCD vampire which plenty will enjoy. Those looking for something more, particularly a strong plot, will have some trouble with it. In any case, hoping for more as I'm sure that series will get better from here, and hopefully back to the form we found in Bloodshot.

Buy Hellbent from The Book Depository.

Please visit Cherie Priest's website for more information.

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