When you read a lot of crime fiction and urban fantasy as I do you find that an inordinate number of books have “blood” as a word in the title (crime books also seem to feature “bone” frequently too).
Tanya Huff has created a series of five novels in the urban fantasy genre where “blood” is used in every title (there are some short stories as well). These start with Blood Price and also include Blood Trail, Blood Lines, Blood Pact and Blood Debt. The main character of these books is Vicky Nelson, a private detective who has left the Toronto police force because she has degenerating eyesight. She has a tempestuous relationship with a serving detective Mike Cellucci. In the first book she becomes embroiled in the paranormal world when she meets Henry, a vampire and romance writer who also happens to be the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.
There are a lot of novels in the urban fantasy genre but these are among the best. What puts them a bit ahead of the game is the tight writing and the author’s inclusion of excellent secondary characters such as Tony, a young man living on the street who sells his body, and Vicky’s Mum. Each novel brings in another supernatural creature for Vicky, Mike and Henry to face – gods, zombies, werewolves, demons and mummies – and there is an overarching story arc as the three main characters begin to understand each other and form their own relationships which are more complex than the usual love triangle which features a little too often in this genre.
For once, the author gives us an impression of great age when Henry is featured (this vampire is certainly never going to want to go back to high school and date a teenager – he doesn’t sparkle either). The uselessness that Vicky feels as she is losing her sight is excellently done and there’s a storyline in one of the books where she has her glasses removed which will resonate with anyone with poor eyesight – I found it frightening. The author explores family grief and also the issues of being different in an increasingly conforming world. I also liked the way that she demonstrated how lonely many of the characters are.
I highly recommend these books. They aren’t romances in disguise (although there is a romantic theme running through the five books). The characters are well rounded and fun to know and the author supplies a number of excellent villains for them to oppose. There is also a spin off trilogy featuring Tony who it turns out is gay and a magician.
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