Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 268 Pages
At a Glance: Multi-layered with subplots galore, but well done
Blurb: Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.
After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.
Review: I have enjoyed many a novel by author Shira Anthony and her latest, the first in a new series entitled Blood And Rain, shows great promise. As with any new world or, in this case, introduction of paranormal creatures, there can be a certain amount of setup involved in the initial story. While vampires are not a new creation by any means, it is important for any author to give them their own unique attributes, or potentially fall into the abyss of a well-worn trope that fails to break fresh ground. Shira Anthony attempts to break the mold and, for the most part, I feel she enhances this paranormal genre with exciting characters and deeply involved plot lines.
However, it is these intersecting stories and new types of immortals that also tended to slow this novel down. Let me begin by giving a brief synopsis as I understand it from the story. First, there are hunters who are long living men with extraordinary powers, such as the ability to control fire or ice, and they are the policing force of the vampire nation. They have a council that decides if a warrant will be given that signifies the death of a vamp who has stepped out of line. These vampires are ancient in some cases, which means they were born as vampires and not created by humans, and they coexist with the hunters, acknowledging that those vamps that cross the line and threaten humans will be destroyed. They are also very powerful. It is a fine line these two races walk, and on both sides there are good and bad.
As far as I can understand there is also a third, hybrid race of Immortals—these are much like vampires in that they can experience blood lust and even drink from a host, but they are nearly impossible to kill and remarkably powerful. Exactly who can be an immortal was a bit murky for me—or perhaps I just missed the subtext that explained it clearly. And therein lies the first problem I encountered with this story. There were so many finer points to these societies that how and who can be any one of these paranormals was really difficult to follow for me.
Blood And Rain follows the paths of two brothers. The older, Francois, is besotted with a vampire named Charles. I believe he is an ancient, and most definitely extremely powerful, vampire. He recreates Francois with his bite, and Francois becomes both vampire and hunter and literally takes on a new form identical to his old. Hence, there is a corpse left behind and it is this empty husk that Francois’s brother Adrien finds and vows to avenge. Also a hunter, Adrien is given a warrant for Charles’ death and goes on a mission to do just that. But Charles is elusive at best, and there is huge turmoil in the council of hunters as well, which leaves Adrien unsure as to whom he can trust and how he can vindicate what he believes is his brother’s death. Along the way, Adrien will meet his own vampire, Nicholas, the prince of one of the two biggest feuding vampire dynasts. In return for Nicholas’ help finding Charles, Adrien has agreed to be the hired muscle to keep Nicholas safe while he travels to wed the daughter of the opposing dynasty. There is only one problem, Adrien has fallen in love with Nicholas.
I apologize if that seemed to be more than the normal synopsis but as you can see, Shira Anthony has written a terribly complex story with many subplots, as well as a fair share of twists and turns. I am sure that the incredible cliffhanger at novel’s end will frustrate some readers, but I felt it was cleverly done and actually made me eager to read the next installment in this series. Other than the complexities produced by having vampires, ancient vampires, hunters and immortals all needing to be established and delineated, the only other problem I saw with this novel was that our time was spent following two brothers, both of whom had complex storylines; hence it felt as though the focus was always split, and I couldn’t quite get a handle on either character or their love interest as deeply as I would have liked.
As usual, Shira Anthony writes a compelling tale and peoples it with interesting characters that are complex, intelligent and determined. I am excited to see where this series will lead and how the author will begin to pull together all the threads she has planted along the way. Blood And Rain may be a multi-layered novel with subplots galore, but it is well done and worth the read!
You can buy Blood and Rain here: