Published 2011 398 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
A spate of violent murders is plaguing Paradise City, all the victims being girls masquerading as vampire servants. The Kubai Mata have long battled against othernatural atrocities, but have their hands full as they work with the police to stop this bloodshed.
As their city becomes increasingly dangerous, Malkolm and Chrysabelle hunt the Ring of Sorrows – hoping its power will provide an essential edge against the dark otherworld forces. But forced to make a life and death decision, Chrysabelle realises her relationship with Malkolm could prove fatal. Meanwhile, the night of Samhain approaches, bring the final melding of mortal and othernatural worlds. No one knows what to expect – except that war is coming.
Bad Blood is the third novel in the House of Comarré urban fantasy series by Kristen Painter. It follows on directly from where Flesh and Blood, the second novel in this series, finished and further continues the established plotlines from the previous books. For that reason I’d highly recommend new readers to read these books in order.
In Bad Blood it finally feels like the author is hitting her stride with the characters and plotting. My main criticisms of the series so far have been highly contrived scenarios driving the plot, the poorly fleshed out futuristic setting and one dimensional villainy that occasionally borders on the ridiculous. Most of these detractors are absent from this novel. It’s almost like the author has finally just relaxed and let the words flow. The resulting reading experience is an altogether smoother ride with consistently fast story pacing and well rounded characters. I’m still baffled by the choice of futuristic setting which seems to serve no real purpose and still hasn’t received any kind of meaningful world building but I didn’t pick up this book thinking it was sci-fi, so I’m not that disappointed. This is an urban fantasy novel (it’s been clearly marketed as such) and whatever its time frame the fantasy mythology is exceedingly imaginative so there really is no cause for complaint.
The story of Bad Blood has a split focus. Chrysabelle and Malkolm team up to get the Ring of Sorrows back from its hiding place and one part of the story focuses on them. Chrysabelle needs the ring because it is made of sacred gold. She wants to melt it down and use the gold to replace the comarré signum that were stripped from her skin during the course of the previous novel. Chrysabelle has her personal reasons for making this potentially bad choice – the ring is enchanted and said to be able to raise an undead army that can be commanded by its wearer (not something that any rationally thinking person would necessarily want to have permanently tattooed into their skin without knowing the consequences) – but her less than fully considered decision does drive the plot forward nicely. With Chrysabelle and Malkolm finally getting to spend some time together, their relationship moves in a more romantic direction, which is a welcome change to the undefined tension and illogical arguing that surrounded their earlier character interactions.
The other focus of the story is on the people left behind in Paradise City while Chrysabelle and Malkolm are away. The secondary characters have always been one of the greatest strengths of Painter’s HoC books and now they really start to shine. Creek, Doc and Fi all have plenty to keep them busy dealing with the machinations of evil witches, murdered fake comarré and an increase in supernatural activity as Halloween approaches. The broken covenant and the reality of having supernatural beasties openly hunting humans on the streets of Paradise City are revealed to the city’s mayor – who takes the news about as well as you’d expect – but also introduces a character with a line of official authority into our heroes’ activities.
All in all Bad Blood feels like a much stronger novel than the previous series offerings. The characters seem to have finally found their voices and the plotting feels far more natural. Even Tatiana, the one-dimensional villain, is revealed to have previously hidden depths, which is a relief as it served to limit some of her wilder (and more ridiculous) megalomaniac tendencies. The book leaves readers well positioned for the fourth series instalment, Out For Blood, which is due for publication summer 2012. This reviewer is certainly looking forward to it.
LoveVampires Review Rating: