Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women in Horror: Bloodshot

Raylene Pendle is a flapper turned accomplished vampire thief who is tired of being hired to steal pornography. Thankfully, an interesting case falls into her lab involving the government experimenting on vampires and leaving her client, Ian Stott, blind for the rest of eternity. After overcoming her shock at knowing that a vampire could be mutilated like that, she takes the case and agrees to steal files detailing what happened to her client in hopes of finding a cure. Not long after that, she is chased by black suited government agents and her secret cache of expensive stolen valuables stashed away in a seemingly abandoned building is raided. Everywhere she goes, she is followed and chased. It eventually gets to be less about the money and more about not allowing such atrocities to happen to other vampires. Can she follow the paper trail fast enough to find what her client needs or will she suffer the same fate as Ian and become a government guinea pig?

This is Cherie Priest's first book in the urban fantasy genre and I enjoyed it very much. I know that the market is overflooded with vampire novels, but this one isn't cliche and tired like so many others. There is no romance to speak of, which is a refreshing change. The only thing that remotely resembles it is Raylene's attraction to two male characters, one human and one vampire, which could have been a super cheesy, typical love triangle. Thankfully, Priest decided to go a different way with the story. Raylene is pretty happy about her existence as a vampire, unlike those Angels and Edwards out there, so angst is in short supply here. The vampires in the novel aren't totally evil baby-eaters, but aren't super annoying goody two shoes either. This one-dimensional view of either side is getting really dull. They are normal people who drink blood and need to stay out of the sun in Cherie Priest's world. These vampires are multifaceted, complex characters.

I like that vampires aren't almost godlike with their powers in this novel. Raylene is stronger and faster than humans, but she does have her limitations. For example, she can take a few bullets, but the pain and blood loss will eventually weaken her severely. Her senses are superior to a human's, but within a logical realm. The ridiculous rules such as crosses or wooden stakes or garlic being fatal have thankfully been dispensed with. She has a little bit of psychic ability, but just a smidge really. It's just enough to feel out someone's intentions and general mood and not much more than that. The vampire powers and rules seem much more logical here, making it much easier to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the novel.

The biggest strength of the book is its colorful cast of characters. Raylene's narrative drew me in immediately. Her inner monologue is full of paranoia, neurosis, and OCD-ness despite the hard-as-nails persona she exudes. She also cares for people much more than she wants to admit to herself. This is best seen with the two kids that live in her abandoned warehouse full of stolen swag. At first, she was annoyed with them and tried to drive them out, but their relationship evolved over time. They have a mutual trust and Raylene feels an obligation to protect them from danger. She even gave them a phone so they can call her in an emergency like a concerned mother. These aspects made her much more human to me. Plus, she infuses her own brand of humor in much of the novel, making her voice memorable and fun to read.

I really liked Bloodshot. It really renewed my interest in vampire novels because it proved to be much different than many of the others out there. This book combined mystery, horror, and action into a compelling, fun story. It's a lot different from Boneshaker, her previous steampunk zombie novel, but Cherie Priest has proven that she can write in different genres really well. I loved the ending and, of course, it's left open for a sequel that will be released in August called Hellbent. I highly recommend this to urban fantasy and vampire readers.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins


Misty said...

I've been debating whether to read this one. I loved Boneshaker, but this one seems SO different, and I was wondering if it was going to end up just another in a long line of books of this type.
I'll probably still look into it, though. She does do characters very well.

Juju at Tales of said...

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