'The Blood That Bonds' is a vampire novel with more than an element of romance to it that reads as a little bit more old school than say, the Night Huntress series.
Like the Night Huntress series, and most vampire novels these days, it has a major love interest between the story's two most prominent characters. The female of the couple, Two, starts out the story as a drug addicted prostitute before being converted by the ancient vampire Theroen. I can't say I cared too much for the names of the two main characters. Sure, they're different from the normal names you see in vampire novels but I never really took to them, particularly Two. Another aspect I couldn't take to was the cover of the book. It looked too much like the cover of a 70s horror B-movie and didn't do the novel any favors at all as it's much more refined and intellectual than what the cover suggests.
If you were to judge this book from the first chapter then you wouldn't think it was a vampire novel at all (unless you seen the cover of course) as it very much concentrates on introducing Two and the horrible life she leads. At the mercy of heroin, and reliant upon her pimp to supply it, Two's life is one of dejection and despair. The despair is portrayed very well and when Theroen enters the story and shows Two a wealthier and more opulent standard of living it's easy to see why she quickly falls for his charm and falls in love. Likewise, Theroen falls in love with Two although there was an aspect of Theroen also being that father figure that Two never had and thus she falls for a more emotionally mature male. I loved the relationship between Two and Theroen and much preferred their dynamic to that of the very popular Kat and Bones.
With Two's character being fleshed out from the beginning we're left with a series of story telling flashbacks to set the foundation for who Theroen is and how he came to be. While living as a priest Theroen is transformed into a vampire by Abraham which is an action that calls him to question everything he has believed. There's a very strong distinction in the name of Abraham to the Biblical figure of the same name and thus it was a very well chosen name for the character. Of course, with Theroen being a priest there are some good lines in this novel in relation to his faith. One such line spoken by Abraham being, "If ever your God was listening, little sheep, he has long since gone deaf."
As well as Abraham there are a couple of strong side characters who play a major part in this novel. Melissa/Missy who is a vampire with a split personality. Sometimes the evil Missy is in control and at other times it's Melissa. This was a very good way of creating suspense in the novel for her character could appear as either person and it kept her very interesting. The other main vampire character is Tori who is as much, if not more, animal than human. In that respect she is a vampire but one who has the raw brutality and demeanor of a werewolf that remains in its non-human form.
There are strong sexual elements throughout this novel, as arousal is often brought about from the desire that the vampires have to feed, but equally strong is the notion of love. At times the two are brought up in conversation and we are left in no doubt that Two and Theroen truly love each other even though their relationship is highly sexual such as when Theroen says, "Sex is sex. Love is love...love makes sex something more...sex without love is merely gratification. I love you Two."
I was actually loving this novel until 75% of the way through (yes, I read it on my Kindle so I know the exact percentage) and then there's a story changing moment that totally changes the whole direction of the book. I'm not sure as to why the author chose the direction he did but I really do believe 100% that it was the wrong way to go. I think I could have lived with that moment being the end of the book but the fact it happens with a quarter of the novel still remaining just had me baffled. Even more so when taking into account that the final quarter of the novel is actually its weakest part.
The final quarter of the novel loses its way a bit and is a tad inconsistent. For instance there's a part where Tori gets out of a shower and is seen naked by a character named Sam. Sam complains about seeing more than she needed to. In itself that's fine except Sam has just witnessed the slaughter of two people with blood and guts everywhere. Why on earth would she be concerned about seeing another female get out of the shower with the carnage she just witnessed? Didn't really make sense to me and pulled me out of the novel. Another example of the novel losing its way in the final quarter when Two states it would take a nuclear bomb to kill Abraham. Earlier in the novel she mentioned the same thing to Theroen and he told her that wouldn't work without getting into details as to why. So as she knew that already why even say it again even if it was meant in jest?
The ending of the story wraps everything up into a neat little package and gives the reader a positive, if somewhat timid, finish to the novel. It's difficult to go into the faults of what transpires at the end without giving the ending away but I will say I found it too unrealistic and the reasoning used, in relation to what happens, was about as strong as wet paper.
It's a shame I felt the way I did about the final quarter of the novel as up until then this novel was a definite winner and I would have rated it higher. Given the way it panned out in the last quarter I feel I have to drop the rating down a little.
(review of free book)