Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: In the Blood

In the Blood
In the Blood by Nancy A. Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book more than Sunglasses After Dark. I thought it was more tightly-plotted, and it has a happier ending. There's far less of the confusing dream/flashback/trippy stuff from Sunglasses After Dark, which makes more room for plot.

In Sunglasses After Dark, we meet Sonja Blue, a vampire who never died, which is rare and strange. Therefore, she lives with a foot in both worlds, and has the split personality to prove it. She's capable of great violence, but she has pesky human emotions holding her back from being just like every other Pretender (non-human critter passing for human).

In the Blood continues Sonja's story. She's searching for Morgan, the monster who unwittingly created her following a violent rape. She has a private detective following her, set on her trail by the ancient vampire Pangloss. Palmer, the detective, is just out of prison for his supposed involvement in a murder plot, and he's started to see things he can't explain.

This book has a greater variety of Pretenders. There are a few demons Sonja interacts with, there's a kitsune, past lives play a part, and the seraphim make another appearance, with an expanded role. There are also ghosts inhabiting a bizarrely-constructed haunted house, calling to mind Stephen King's Rose Red (doubtless inspired by the same source material). It serves to flesh out the world, and fill the page count with a lot more than disturbing rape and violence and subjugation.

While the climactic battle does take place psychically, as in the first book, I found it easier to follow in this book than in the previous. I also felt more invested in Sonja's success, that the stakes were higher for her failure. Morgan is pure evil, and his every action, every choice within the book reinforces that he deserves to be destroyed. That investment kept me up well into the wee hours, flipping pages to find out what happens next.

This book brings out more of Sonja's human side, but we still see flashes of the monster she is underneath. Palmer is equally attracted and repulsed, and we can't blame him.

I've already added the next book to my to-reads. After the first, I wasn't sure if I could stomach the violence and rape enough to go through the whole series. But, if all of the following books are as good at this one, it's well worth it.

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