Sunday, March 8, 2009

Debut Graduate Review: In the Blood by Adrian Phoenix

In the Blood (Amazon USA, UK, Canada)
by Adrian Phoenix
Trade Paperback - $15
Pocket Books

Excerpt from publisher's blurb:

FBI Special Agent Heather Wallace now knows the extent of the Bureau corruption that surrounds her, but worries she is losing the battle. And when Dante and his band Inferno come to Seattle on tour, Heather can't help but be drawn back to the beautiful, dangerous nightkind. But what Heather and Dante don't know is that new enemies lurk in the shadows, closer than they think...and even deadlier than they fear.

Shadowy government forces have pledged to eliminate all loose ends from Project Bad Seed -- and Heather and Dante are at the top of the list. Elsewhere, the Fallen gather in Gehenna, intent on finding their long-awaited savior, the True Blood nightkind whom Lucien DeNoir would die to protect. And a damaged and desperate adversary, with powers as strange and perilous as Dante's own, plots to use Dante as a pawn in a violent scheme for revenge. But only one of these lethal forces holds the key to Dante's past -- a key that could finally unlock the secret of his birth and the truth of his existence...or destroy him completely.


Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing Adrian Phoenix's debut novel, A Rush of Wings. In the Blood is her follow-up novel. Here's a link to all the previous Adrian Phoenix posts on Fantasy Debut.

Unfortunately I found In the Blood disappointing. I have a theory that if a debut novel is basically stand-alone, as A Rush of Wings was, it's difficult to make the sequel (or second novel in the series) equally compelling. I think this is because the story feels finished, and anything additional seems like an attempt to add onto something that doesn't really need more.

In the case of In the Blood, I felt the story was retreading the same ground that had already been covered in A Rush of Wings. The major storyline that appeared to have been resolved in A Rush of Wings turned out not to have been resolved after all, so the characters spent most of this novel trying to resolve it. Little new ground was broken in terms of story or character development. Ideally this book should have delved deeper into the characters to show us how they would grow beyond what we saw in the first book. But that didn't happen. The characters repeated approximately the same journey as in the previous book, except that we'd already seen it. As a result, In the Blood lacked the edge-of-your-seat tension that I loved in A Rush of Wings.

I had other quibbles as well. In A Rush of Wings I really enjoyed the various characters' distinctive voices. In In the Blood I didn't get the same sense of each character's worldview and background being reflected in his or her narrative voice and dialogue. I also felt the new characters, including the villains, weren't fully developed. And there were so many new characters that it was difficult to keep them all straight.

In the Blood does reveal a little more about the mixed heritage of the central character, Dante, who is half vampire and half fallen angel. But I didn't feel emotionally invested in what was going on among the fallen angels. Their characters weren't rounded enough for me to either hate them or love them (most of them are villains, so I assume I was supposed to hate them). Also, readers should be aware that Phoenix's angelic mythology could be offensive to some.

So what did I like about In the Blood? Dante was still fun to read. He has a great voice, and I have a soft spot for emotionally wounded characters. But overall I felt this book didn't deliver the compelling story and emotional punch of its predecessor.


Read another opinion on Darque Reviews.

1 comment:

Tia Nevitt said...

Thank you, Raven, for your review!