by Suzan Harden, fantasy (2011)
Angry Sheep Publishing, $2.99, ISBN 978-1-938745-01-0
Blood Magick is the first book in the Bloodlines series. It's an urban fantasy with romance, so yes, there are vampires, witches, and miscellaneous spooks present. And that's the problem with this one: while this is a competently written book, its offering is too familiar for its own good.
Our heroine, Dr Bebe Zachary, is a witch who is attending the auction of her late grandmother's worldly possessions when the story opens. Bebe is not a happy woman. Well, obviously one reason is the death of her grandmother, but she is also not happy about how her other two family members are already starting to jostle to take over the dead woman's position in the White Rose coven. Bebe is supposed to be the one taking over, but she has rejected the offer. At any rate, she is at the auction to buy back Natasha's wardrobe, or failing that, retrieve the Book of Shadows hidden in there.
Natasha is outbid by Caesar Augustine, a thousand-plus year old vampire who is also the big boss of all the good vampires in town. She tries to steal the Book of Shadows, but fails as she is intercepted by Caesar, who proceeds to ask her for a date. She refuses, because she has a thing against all vampires. Her parents were killed in front of her by rogue vamps, you see. Don't worry, she will have plenty of opportunity to get to know Caesar better when Natasha's enemies go after her and Caesar, who was BFF with Natasha, plays the familiar protector role.
If I am going to invest time and money on another urban fantasy series, it should offer something that is at least a little different from the many, many, many urban fantasy series out there at the moment. Blood Magick is, I'm afraid, not doing a good job in convincing me that this is one such series. The whole thing feels very familiar, depressingly so at times. The canon is mostly familiar and the setting seems like another generic alternate Earth with vampires and what not. The plot is also something that I have come across many times before.
And it doesn't help that the main characters feel generic to me. Caesar isn't a raging alpha male stereotype, but he's the familiar capable hero who shoulders the protective guardian role. It's fine to use familiar tropes in stories, especially considering the genre here, heh, but I'd prefer some kind of memorable spin here that is distinctly Ms Harden's instead of Cliché Mishmash #547. Bebe tends to falter, fail, and get injured so often that she neatly falls into the damsel in distress role. Speaking of Bebe, she is also quick to jump the gun, talk without thinking, and leap to conclusions - all of which do not make her come off well at all, especially considering that she already has a tendency to slip up or fail to further her role as the damsel in distress.
A cursory glace at the other books in the series suggests that those books may be interesting - especially the one with the zombies, heh - so I may not rule out this series completely at this moment. It's just too bad that Blood Magick turns out to be a series-starter that brings nothing interesting to the table.
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