Published 2009 309 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
There is a world you don't know about, inhabited by supernatural creatures of darkness – vampires, werewolves, and all manner of savage, impossible beasts that live for terror and slaughter and blood. They are all around us but you cannot see them, for knowledge of their presence – so close and so hungry – would surely drive any ordinary human insane.
But for centuries a special breed of hunter has kept the monsters at bay, preventing them from breaking through the increasingly fragile barriers protecting our mortal realm. These guardians are called skinners.
But beware… for there are very few of them left.
Blood Blade is the first book in Skinners fantasy horror series by Marcus Pelegrimas. Skinners is the name given to an unofficial organisation of supernatural hunters based across America. Blood Blade introduces readers to series protagonist Cole Warnecki, a computer games designer from Seattle whose idyllic existence of video gaming for fun and profit is rudely interrupted when his wilderness vacation takes a turn more extreme than he ever could have dreamed when he booked the spur of the moment holiday. Attacked by a rampaging beast, the likes of which he’d never seen before outside of cyberspace, Cole narrowly escapes with his life but gradually gets sucked into the world of the Skinners. As Cole finds out more about the hidden supernatural world around him readers also discover more abut the origins of the hideous beasts that lurk in the shadows of that world.
Blood Blade follows the fairly standard, “reasonably normal person discovers supernatural world exists and gets to make exciting career swap to monster hunting” urban fantasy formula. Written with a slightly gorier, more masculine edge than the majority of urban fantasy books and with a male protagonist, Blood Blade sits uncomfortably between the slasher horror and urban fantasy genres, neither quite one thing nor the other.
From an urban fantasy perspective Blood Blade just doesn’t quite pull off a coherent, imaginative supernatural world. Some aspects are intriguing yet the execution of the story somehow failed to make them less interesting than they could have been. Traditional vampire myth is eschewed in favour of beings infected by a parasitic spore that rewires their internal organs and leaves them looking to feed their parasite’s need for blood and spread its spore to infect new victims – but other authors have worked the parasitic vampire angle with more success before now. Shapeshifters come in a variety of flavours but the worst of them, the Full Bloods, are practically impossible to kill – you’d think this would be exciting but somehow it isn’t.
The Skinner organisation is some kind of half-baked amateur thing – I have no problem with the volunteer/amateur aspect but it hardly makes sense that a non-official organisation would have the clout to have avoided the notice of the police for so long. And the Skinners seem hopelessly outmatched – humans with sticks fighting against powerful supernatural creatures with big teeth and sharper claws. Usually I’d like those odds for my monster hunters but here it just doesn’t quite work – and more annoyingly I can’t put my finger on why this and so many other aspects of Blood Blade just aren’t whetting my interest.
Normally I find that reading a new fantasy novel raises a lot of questions in my mind. Questions about the mythology, questions about the characters, questions about the fantasy world in general; these questions are what usually keep me reading a series, book after book, as I want to find out more about that world. However, the most pressing questions my mind after reading Blood Blade were: Do all men think with their dicks? All the time? Even when they’ve just discover that the world is full of nasty creatures that would like to eat them? Upon second thoughts I’m not sure that I actually want to know the answers to these questions – which is probably why I failed to bond with story protagonist Cole, whose dick-driven impulses annoyed me at regular points throughout the story.
Blood Blade isn’t a bad book, believe me, I’ve read worse. It just lacks that certain something that would make it a good book – leaving it languishing in the ranks of the average. The occasional flash of writing brilliance is just about enough to keep readers going through the parts of the story that drag but this book is probably more suited to a masculine, horror loving audience than to female urban fantasy fans.
LoveVampires Review Rating: