Blood Gift: The Circle #1 by Amy Lee Burgess

Blood Gift CoverI never tire of paranormals. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc., I love them all. It’s fun to see what twists the author decided to put on the standard tropes. I’ve been reading vampire stories for quite a while now, pretty much since I found Chelsea Quinn Yarbro‘s Hotel Transylvania about a decade after it actually came out. Over time I’ve become more choosy. You can’t just throw sexy Draculas at some bold maidens any more, and dark urban fantasy with brood heroes have an even bigger hurdle to jump to get me engaged.

I chose to read this based on the first chapter sample, in which the heroine, Claire, is using her vampire powers to help other women whom she perceives to be in bad situations. Claire has a complicated past, a complicated present, and yet is clearly trying in her own little way to make the world a better place. She’s a highly powerful vampire, for reasons I can’t describe without getting all plot-spoilery. That her powers, which make her special even among the vampires, end up being both her burden and her salvation take this story a notch above the ordinary. Haunted by her past abusive relationships, not even turning into a super-powerful vampire can be an instant remedy for the damage she’s suffered.

Many paranormals/dark fantasies feature lead characters with troubled pasts, but rarely are they presented with such realism. This is an unflinching window into the emotional aftermath of abusive situations. I love that Claire is not simply a victim, and that she must be in large part responsible for her own healing.  Claire, Andre, and Parker are vivid characters with complex personalities.  Some characters, Parker especially, are revealed (a little late for my preference) to not be as quite as shallow as they seem. Much of the plot has nuances beyond the obvious, and none of the characters are solidly reliable narrators of any situation. It’s a kind of writing that I don’t often run across in this genre, and a pure delight.

Things I’d like to nitpick–  there are a couple of standard tropes that made me sigh impatiently, most predominately the “soul mates” styled one. Perhaps I’m just old and cranky, but especially for semi-immortal creatures, “no choice but bound together forever” sounds as much a potential curse as a blessing. I lack the romance gene to appreciate the sentiment, and it’s surprisingly clunky in a story that in many ways is about choice– the choice to leave a bad situation, the choice to overcome a dark past.  Also, Claire’s chaotic mental state in the final chapters drags out a little too long for me.  I think some of that word count would have been better spent on developing a couple of the secondary characters, especially the vampire circle master, a bit more. Since this is #1, there’s plenty of time for other character development in later volumes. Despite my small complaints here, I’m definitely looking forward to further books in the series.

This book has erotic content; if that’s not your thing you’ll want to pass. It also has descriptions of child and partner abuse that are very painful to read and might be triggers for some people. You can buy it at Loose Id or at Amazon. I bought this for myself. This is not an affiliate post or paid review.

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