Friday, July 12, 2013

Blood Price (Victoria Nelson, #1) by Tanya Huff * * * *

I've wanted to read the books ever since I saw the TV show. It was a really good series, and I was sad that it got cancelled so prematurely. I'm a huge fan of everything vampire, well, except for Twilight, but I don't really regard that as all that vampish. However, the vampire here is really great, even though he's the good guy. The key is that he's good because he used to be a good person growing up.

The story itself is a supernatural crime mystery. We have the main character, Vicky Nelson, an ex-cop, who is tasked with finding a serial killer. She suspects supernatural origins from the start, and is quickly confirmed. The action is fast-paced. We meet our vampire quite early, and Vicky and him share the perspective of the story by skipping from one person to the other. This is not third person limited, which I felt did take away from the mystery aspect a bit, since we knew who the killer was from almost the start. The suspense is whether he succeeds in his endeavour or not.

Vicky Nelson is of course our main character next to Henry, the vampire. The book came out in 1991, so we could say that she begins the tradition of kick-ass female characters in vampire stories. She's an ex-cop, who left the force because she has a degenerative eye disease, and her sight is very limited. Still, she couldn't get away from fighting crime, and ended up as a private eye. She's tall and confident, but not an iron-lady. It makes her a lot more approachable.

Henry Fitzroy, the vampire, is the bastard son of Henry VIII. This made him interesting to me because the Tudors are some of my favourite people in history. His character is still basically of his time. He is religious, and there are references to the Christian God, which to me as an atheist is a bit disturbing. I try to put that next to the vampire thing. What is good though that Henry fits into the image of a 16th century aristocrat. The things that were ingrained to him in boyhood are still there, as well as some ideas that he had developed in the past 450 years. It also helps the character somewhat that we can keep picturing him as we saw him in the series:

Kyle Schmid as Henry
What is sometimes funny about it is that I kept forgetting it was published in 1991. I kept thinking "Why doesn't she call her cell phone?" or "Why not Google it?" The story is modern, but obviously those things didn't exist back then.

Overall, the book is exciting. I could hardly put it down. There is the required sexual tension that a good vampire story should have. The characters are life-like, with flaws. I wished that we didn't see the perspective of the killer, but oh well. It is a good, fun read, and not long. So I'm giving it 4 stars.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes, #1) by Andy Lane * * * *

I picked up Death Cloud not being sure if I'd like it. I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, always have been. The recent modern interpretations I also love, especially BBC's Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch is just brilliant in it. Brain is definitely the new sexy. However, I also like quality, so I just wasn't sure if I'd like a new book, one that was about a young teen Sherlock. Would it be true to the time, since it's set in Victorian times? I have seen things set in that era that were more steampunk than period. Not that there is anything wrong with steampunk, but it would feel odd. I was also concerned about Sherlock being a young teen. It's been some time since I was a teen myself, if ever, and even then I was the geeky, not-into-teen-lit type. I couldn't work my way through The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and that sort of books, I just couldn't interest myself in those sort of things. However, I was curious, and in need of a mystery, so I started the book on my Kindle. I can always read something else.

What I found was that all my fears were placated. This isn't steampunk, not a gadget in sight. The history looks well-researched, I even learned some things about Victorian times that I didn't know about. The attitude towards children is correct as well. The young Sherlock is a young Sherlock, someone who has the beginnings of a great mind, just needs time to get there. What happens to him, the people he meets tie into the adult Sherlock we know. Even the dark shadow of drugs looms ahead as well. This is also not just a young teen boy, having adventures in the countryside. It sort of starts out that way, but things get serious fast.

The story is interesting. It's part adventure, part mystery. You get all the vivid action of youth, the running about, sneaking, stealing bicycles,... However, this is no childish adventure. The mystery is very adult, and the adventure could test a grown man. It is appropriate for young teens, but can be enjoyed by an adult as well. It's about Sherlock leaving his school for boys only to find out that he's not going home, but will be spending the summer with relatives he doesn't know, in a small English town that he's unfamiliar with. He fears he will be bored. After a day of getting there, he knows he won't be.

The host of characters is interesting. There is no Watson, but he's not missed. Matty, the new friend is not a replacement, but a real boy, with real skills and story. Amyus Crowe is not a good choice of name for a Potterhead, because I keep being reminded of Amycus Carrow, since their names are obviously familiar. Though Amyus is not an evil person. He is a good addition, since we can see from the adult Sherlock that he stands out so much from his culture, that he must have had other influences as well. While the adult Sherlock is definitely British, and Victorian, he also has ideas and ways of looking at things that are more free-thinking, we could say, rather American. Victoria Crowe is rather on the side-lines for now, but I get the feeling that her role will be more influential in Sherlock's life to come.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was fast-paced, a page turner. It swept me along on an adventure that was exciting, intriguing, and felt like something a young Sherlock Holmes would engage in. I definitely recommend it to fellow adventure lovers and Sherlock fans.