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Saturday, June 19, 2010

BLOOD FEUD By Alyxandra Harvey. London: Bloomsbury, 2010.

This is a sequel to My Love Lies Bleeding, set only a few days later. The vampire Drake family are now the royal family of the vampire community – that part of it, of course, which is not connected with the Hounds, the Host or the nutty Hel-Blar. The Host, led by evil vampire Montmartre, has been trying to capture Solange, now Princess Solange, the only girl born to her family in nine hundred years, so that Montmartre can be the next king. In the last novel, Solange managed to survive her change to vampire state (it’s a genetic thing in her family) with the help of her friend Lucy, a vampire hunter who became Solange’s boyfriend and a party of Hounds, led by French girl Isabeau St Croix.

Isabeau, as we learn in this book, had survived the French Revolution and her time in the streets of Paris, only to be turned into a vampire in London, by evil British vampiric earl, Greyhaven, who had then left her buried for two hundred years before she was rescued by the Hounds and brought to America (in this world, vampires don’t seem to have any special problems with crossing water, any more than they vanish from mirrors). The previous novel was centred around Solange and Lucy; this one is about the blossoming romance between Isabeau and Solange’s brother Logan.

Montmartre hasn’t given up, of course. And Isabeau discovers that Greyhaven is still around and helping him.

The author has taken trouble over vampire culture and legend. I suppose there would be some if vampires were born as well as made. Some things I found a little strange. The Hound culture seems to be very ancient, connected with female shamans – shamankas – and dogs, but, though it’s set in America, there doesn’t seem to be any Native American connection.

Of course, there were people in North America before the Native Americans – they may have been responsible for killing off all the prehistoric animals whose remains have been found. Maybe they were even vampires – who knows? But the Hounds seem to speak Welsh! This needs some explanation and perhaps this will happen in the next novel. And I’d like to know how genetic vampires age. The family matriarch, a mediaeval Frenchwoman, is still around, somewhere, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone else that old. Isabeau still looks eighteen, but she was turned. Will Logan stay eighteen? Will his mother stay Queen forever unless someone stakes her? It’s no wonder Tolkien made an “out” for his immortal Elves, or they, too, would have had the problem of Mum and Dad being around forever, telling you what to do! (As it was, 2000-year-old Arwen still had to do her father’s bidding).

Never mind. The series is fun. It takes itself a whole lot less seriously than many others of this genre. Logan is turned on by the fact that Isabeau can really kick butt. And vampires stake each other! Isabeau rolls her eyes at those pretentious vampires who carry polished stakes, when her comrades just sharpen sticks. There are cheeky references to such things as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, though there are probably a lot of teenagers out there who haven’t heard of Buffy(Pity about that).

The first book has been popular in my library and I have every intention of putting this one in as well. In fact, there's a student waiting for it right now...

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