Monday, October 27, 2008

Matters of the Blood by Maria Lima

Matters of the Blood turned out to be an enjoyable urban fantasy. For fans of the genre, I can't see it disappointing. It did turn out to be more of a vampire novel than I expected, but it held my attention to the end and I sailed right past the midway point without posting. While that's not good for the blog, it does demonstrate that the novel was able to hold my attention.

Matters of the Blood is about Keira, an undefined sort of fey human-looking character who is about to undergo a "change," where she will finally come into her fey powers. Unfortunately, the book didn't delve into Keira's background nearly as much as I hoped. I was dying to learn exactly what she was and what her family was, and my curiosity was left somewhat unsatisfied. Some things were explained, but I wanted more! I suppose that's why they make sequels.

While Keira is still strugging with her emerging powers--which tend to pop up when she least expects it--her cousin Marty is murdered. Keira wants to get to the bottom of his murder not because she was overflowing with love for her somewhat repugnant cousin, but because he was her responsibility. Since he was a throwback human in her family line--sort of like a reverse mutant--the family keeps an eye on him to make sure he didn't get into trouble with the powerful bad boys. Of course, that doesn't stop him from finding trouble, anyway.

The evidence leads to Adam Walker's luxury ranch. And there, Keira's ex-boyfriend Carlton--the town sheriff--comes sniffing around. Carlton isn't quite ready to let Keira go--even after a fifteen year absence--but he doesn't exactly light Keira's fire anymore. On the other hand, Keira finds Adam quite intriguing, and she's almost willing to violate her own no human boyfriends policy in order to have him.

This novel turned out to be more of a vampire novel than I expected. This was a rather stupid expectation on my part, because right on the cover it says, "Forget Transylvania--Keira's got to deal with supernatural Texas . . ." The author has done interesting things with the vampire mythology. They band together in enclaves for protection, and they are not necessarily demonic--some are even practicing Christians, and they went to a church for refuge from persecution back during World War II.

One of the novel's strengths is that it was able to engage my interest even though I'm not a fan of vampire protagonists. I'm especially not a fan of vampire lovers, and thankfully this novel spared me any vampire sex. I enjoyed the struggles that the vampires had with their own natures, their desire to hunt and to suck fresh human blood, which is like a drug for them. The dialog was especially well done, snappy without being snarky. My favorite character was Tucker, Keira's shapeshifting half-brother who is over a thousand years old.

I do wish Keira had more of an active role to play in the ending, and that the ending could have been resolved without the deaths of certain characters. However, bravo to the author for not pulling a power out of Keira's hat in order to save the day. Keira had to deal with stuff the same way the rest of us do. The ultimate villains--who were not who I expected--had ways of dealing with vampires that I found very resourceful and imaginative. Due to the sympathetic nature of the villains, I sometimes found myself cheering for them instead of Keira and her allies. Not that I didn't want Keira to win, but I just didn't want the villains to lose. Sympathetic villains are a good thing.

I can recommend this novel to fans of urban fantasy or vampire fantasies. I'm not sure if it will lure non-vampire fans into the vampire fold, because it didn't do so for me, but there is a lot to like.

As an added bonus, there is an excerpt from the sequel, Blood Bargain, in the back.

Amazon links: USA, UK, Canada

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