Published 2011 359 pages
Summary (from the publisher)
Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind.
What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the frozen outskirts of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.
Bloodshot is the first book in a new series (Cheshire Red Reports) by critically-acclaimed fantasy author Cherie Priest. Priest’s previous offerings include the award-winning steampunk fantasy novel, Boneshaker and its follow up Dreadnought. Bloodshot is a modern day tale of vampires, shady government agencies and even shadier secret experiments. It reads more like a mystery featuring vampires, than a typical urban fantasy novel, but this is a good thing – for mystery, fantasy and vampire fans alike – because it pretty much ticks all the right boxes for all of them…
Bloodshot is told in first person by Raylene, the story’s light-fingered vampire protagonist, her quirky voice narrates the tale in unique style. Like all urban fantasy heroines Raylene is a strong character, she’s a competent professional thief with mad skills in breaking and entering – her vampire strength and speed giving her an edge over most security measures – but she also has some real weaknesses. Firstly, she is slightly OCD. She hoards her possessions (even broken pens) and compulsively plans. Raylene’s charming voice gives readers an insight into her neurosis and the weaknesses make her character seem more realistic. Secondly, for a vampire who has eschewed all emotional ties, preferring to be self-reliant rather than keep “pet people”, she does a remarkably poor job of keeping herself “pet” free – gaining homeless teenagers, a sparkly drag queen and an injured vampire during the course of events. Raylene is shockingly ruthless and somewhat self-serving but the reluctant discovery of her hidden soft centre went along way to endearing her to towards me.
In fact, Raylene earned herself a place on my list of all time favourite female vampires. It’s a high honour since this is an exclusive club (consisting of Pam from Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books, Ivy from Kim Harrison’s Hallows series, Selene from the Underworld films and Alice from the Twilight saga.) I can’t imagine why any other vampire fan wouldn’t love Raylene too once they have read her story.
Bloodshot has a strong mystery plotline, which twists and turns like a, well… twisty thing. The supposedly simple B&E job, to steal lost medical records for an injured vampire, soon takes a sinister turn that sees Raylene on the run from government agents herself. The mystery plotline is suitability obtuse and is enough to keep readers guessing through to the book’s final pages.
Other than the vampires there isn’t a huge amount of fantasy in the story. There is no magic and no other supernatural species are revealed to exist in the Bloodshot world but what the story lacks in complex fantasy mythology it more than makes up for with its fabulous characters and off-beat style. There is no shortage of fast-paced action as Raylene dodges bullets and pulls off daring escapes from government facilities – so even die-hard urban fantasy fans shouldn’t fail to be satisfied.
Bloodshot a welcome addition to the urban fantasy genre, Raylene’s self-deprecating wit infuses the story with an original dark humour that makes it stand out as a quality read in the increasingly crowded UF field. Loved it!
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