I’m holding out for a new urban fantasy series, until the end of the night; and I can feel one approach like a fire in my blood. Let’s see if this series can sweep me off my feet by singing along to Blood Song, by Cat Adams.
Bodyguard Celia Graves has definitely accepted her share of weird assignments, both human and supernatural. But her newest job takes the cake. Guarding a prince from terrorists and religious fundamentalists is hard enough, but it seems like the entire supernatural world is after this guy too. When she is betrayed by those she is employed to help, and everything goes horribly wrong, Celia wakes to find herself transformed.
Neither human nor vampire, Celia has become an abomination-something that should not exist-and now both human and supernatural alike want her dead. With the help of a few loyal friends-a sexy mage, a powerful werewolf, and a psychic cop-Celia does her best to stay alive. On the run from her enemies, Celia must try to discover who is behind her transformation . . . before it’s too late.
Blood Song presents an immediately compelling setting: a world where humans fear the night, cowering behind magic wards or on blessed ground to avoid the depredations of vampires, werewolves, and demons. Society maintains a veneer of normalcy by day, the world functioning very much like our own; but the setting sun illuminates just how fragile that illusion really is. Woe betide he who is caught without shelter when the monsters roam.
Celia Graves makes an excellent protagonist for this setting. A bodyguard hired by those seeking protection from the creatures of the night, a job gone wrong results in her being bitten by a master vampire. While she gets rescued before she can be fully turned, the attack results in her becoming a type of half-vampire known as an abomination. In this word where fear of monsters is very much justified, her new distinctly vampiric appearance marks her as an instant target for suspicion and prejudice. And that’s just one of the conflicts of the book: she also has to deal with the physiological changes of the partial transformation such as bloodlust and weakness to sunlight and worry about her would-be sire using his connection to her to track her down and finish the job, not to mention investigating the circumstances surrounding the set-up that led to her being attacked in the first place. Yet, despite the array of formidable obstacles in Celia’s path, the story never reaches a point where it feels like the odds against her are overwhelmingly hopeless; by occasionally providing Celia with a magic dagger gifted from an ex-boyfriend or a timely assist by a friendly ghost, the narrative ensures that she always comes off as capable of facing the challenges before her. Some other books I’ve read have made the mistake of making the odds against the protagonist so mind-bogglingly astronomical that it comes off as an unbelievable deus ex machina when he or she does win in the end; but this one manages a comfortable balance between Celia’s circumstances and her ability to combat them. She may struggle along the way, but she will ultimately prevail; and oh how sweet the victory will taste when she does.
While the book ends with the incident of the vampire attack on Celia having been resolved, plenty of plot threads are left to be explored by the rest of the series; in particular, all the ominous references to a dark and tragic past which resulted in Celia seeing a therapist and being haunted by the ghost of her little sister Ivy. More immediately, it seems that Celia has some siren relatives who have a big problem with her half-vampire condition, and the next book seems likely to deal with that. Well, consider me hooked: this is one of the several new series I’ve picked up that I’m most interested in continuing.
Before I can give the book its final score and bid you adieu, though, there is one final thing I need to mention. I think it’s serendipity that I should review this book immediately after Windwitch. In my review of that book, I mentioned that all the while I was reading it I was getting ready to hand out a Dead Lesbian Penalty for Vivia, and then ended up surprised when she managed to survive the entire novel. Well, after finishing the book, I was actually feeling a little foolish and scolded myself a bit. Obviously the author was aiming to be progressive, including not just a lesbian but a transgender character in the story as well; so wasn’t it a bit pessimistic of me to leap to the conclusion that Vivia’s sexual orientation automatically marked her for death? At this point, am I actually the one with the hang-up? Have I become the type of much-derided tumblr “social justice warrior” who sees discrimination where none exists? These thoughts were cause for deep introspection and self-reflection on my part.
Then I started reading this book, and boom! A lesbian is introduced in chapter one for the purpose of being murdered in chapter nine. There’s no happy ending, so they say; not for lesbians, anyway. I allowed myself to be temporarily blinded by a single bright spot; but on the whole, lesbianism in fiction is still a death sentence, or at the very least a guarantee that the character won’t get a happy ending due to her love interest dying or being forced to separate from her. My cynicism remains justified. Hell, even Windwitch is probably just dangling false hope in front of my face so it can snatch it away later; it’d be just perfect for me to praise it on that point only to have Vivia die in the sequel, right? Because that seems like exactly the sort of thing that would happen the moment I got complacent.
Anyway, the last two paragraphs were just a long way for me to say: this was a very good book, but I must apply my -1 Dead Lesbian Penalty to the score. Sorry, but rules are rules. Stop killing your lesbians, and I’ll stop docking you points for it. Capiche?
Final Rating: 3/5