This was one of the To Be or Not To Be…Read voter choices. There was a tie, folks. Ha! Yep, so I pretty much flipped a coin and here we have our winner. Fabulous as always when the readers pick for me.
I love vampire stories, but I’ve read many and it’s hard for me to find a refreshing take on them. Not only did this gem of a story offer me just such a story, but it included a fantastic cast of characters and a gritty post-apocalyptic urban fantasy plot that captivated me from beginning to in.
The story opens with vampire scion, Rowan Brady, going about her day job policing the prets (preternaturals) by hauling in a vamp who abused the laws by taking blood from an unlicensed source- namely small children- making her feel especially glad to get one more bit of scum off the dangerous streets of post-reclamation Chicago.
Rowan is a survivor and has done what she had to do to keep her and her little brother alive. Humans look down on her choice to become the scion of a vampire in exchange for basic needs and a home, but her brother is worth it and it doesn’t hurt to finally not be starving and living on the edge all the time. She might get irritated with having Devon constantly in her head and to be at his beck and call for blood and social events, but he’s not a bad sort. He allows her more freedoms and puts up with her attitude more than most would. At least her status allows her to do a job that fulfills her unlike some scions who are vampire pets and more.
Things start to get interesting when a vampire and her scion from Canada arrive looking to convince America about a radical change in the way the blood laws are writing, gruesome serial killings start happening and Rowan with her partner must investigate, and a person from Rowan’s past shows up with a hidden agenda. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, Rowan and the others have managed to catch the dangerous eye of the Vampire King. At some point, she might have to squeeze in some time for sleep.
Alright, so this was a book that grabbed me from the beginning and kept me right there through the whole thing. The reader is slowly trickled the details of this darker, grittier world where humans discover that the monsters are real and now they’re in charge. Blood is the new big commodity and a loaf of bread can cost the price of a car before the Reclamation (when vampires ended the last world war when humans had nearly annihilated their own race). The big wars have decimated the world and returned the outer extremes of the country into the wilds and the only protection and help is in a few heartland cities. Life is hard and daily survival is the goal.
The blend of dystopian and urban fantasy with vampires, shifters, mediums, ghosts, and the human hybrid, Scions makes for an action plot that is balanced with the character growth and development of the sole narrator and heroine of the story, Rowan Brady. It paces out with a variety of fast and pulse-pounding scenes and some steady ones. There is a lot going on and at first the reader has little idea who is who, what is what, and what is going on. But this wasn’t a bad sort of confusion. I loved slowly having this story unwrap the details and explain itself as it went.
Rowan is rough and snarky and hides as much of herself as she can. Even in the end, I had a sense that there is more to come as she is a deep character. Becoming a scion is considered by most humans to be the act of selling herself. Her fiance’ trashed her in her community and then turned his back on her. The human police and others she encounters through her job give her a hard time as well so now she hides the hurt behind a wall.
She has a conflicted relationship with the vampire, Devon, she is bonded with. He wants more than she is willing to give, but surprisingly he doesn’t force her to cross important lines she has drawn. He irritates her most of the time except that he is also a generous and warm person who protects and makes her and her brother’s life easier because he cares. As the reader, I understood more about Devon than Rowan did and he is also another one with more reveals to come, I think.
When her ex returns with a tantalizing offer, the confusion and conflict inside grow. He seems to have had a change of heart, but she is not oblivious to the fact that he has also changed a lot.
And then there’s her investigation which provides a suspense element to the plot. There is a serial killer loose and the investigation is showing that there is a tie-in with the very secret scion-making process that has the vampire hierarchy wanting the case solved and are pressuring Rowan, Devon, and their Canadian counterparts to tidy things up quickly. Rowan’s policing partner, Lyle, a bird shifter, is a bright and shining note whenever he’s about and they make a good team with their own style of bond like two battle buddies share.
The books story arc is tied up with a nail-biting climax scene, but I was excited to see where the series seems to be headed. Some interesting things came out at the end and already there are new tantalizing mysteries to ponder while I wait for the next installment.
Urban Fantasy and dystopian lovers who like gritty, absorbing plots and tough yet engaging characters should snag this one for a lot of book loving.
My thanks to Curiosity Quills Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #295 UF
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