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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Blood Storm by Rhiannon Hart. Book 2 Lharmell. Sydney, Random House Australia,2012

Princess Zeraphina and Rodden, the King's right-hand man, are both "harmings", a kind of vampire who isn't actually undead, but does need blood; it doesn't have to be human and Rodden and Zeraphina make the most of small creatures such as rabbits and squirrels. 

But now beggars and other unlikely-to-be-missed folk have been found drained of blood in the streets. Sailors and their ships are going missing. In the previous book, Rodden and Zeraphina made their way north to Lharmell, home of the vampires, and stopped a mass Turning, killing the leader of the harmings. Back then, the harmings weren't too bright, but now someone is actually planning. They have to be stopped, but Rodden's kingdom has been refusing to believe anything is wrong and Zeraphina's mother wants her to come home and get married. And they are both running short of yelbar, the stuff they need to tip their arrows if they're going to kill the horrors up north...

This novel is better than the first - unusual for the dreaded middle book of a trilogy!  The universe is more developed and we learn why the south part of the continent is colder than the north, and it isn't because Antarctica is nearby. We also learn about Rodden's past, which isn't pretty. There are touches of humour, rare in this sort of fantasy.

The novel is not, despite the romantic cover, a standard paranormal romance; it's an action adventure with romance in it, although Zeraphina's love for Rodden is an important part of her motivation.  It's not, though, her entire motivation - she knows how vital their quest is and cares about the victims, including children who have been turned into harmings. The heroine is not a Mary Sue, nor a Chosen One, and if she's good with a bow and arrow, she has earned it with a lot of practice; any other abilities she has are the result of being a harming, if a special harming who has experimented. She has a brain she is willing to use and Rodden is also happy for her to use it.

Be warned! It ends on a cliffhanger this time.

Because they aren't standard paranormal romances, I might try these books on the boys who have been reading our collection of Tamora Pierce and Kate Constable books and Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy. It isn't entirely true that boys won't read a book with a girl on the cover...

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