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Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter

flesh and blod kristen painter Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter

We all know by now that I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with urban fantasy novels: I find their wannabe-gothiness and incessant woe-is-me-isms quite trying, and I just find it hard to buy all that grittiness. Still, Painters name is one thats known to me, so I thought Id dip into this series to see whether my anti UF stance could be turned on its head.

I should note that Flesh and Blood'is the second in the series, and given that I took a good few hundred pages to acclimatise myself to the narrative and setting, I wouldnt recommend reading these out of order. Thats not to say that theres anything here thats especially complex, but rather that there are so many point of view characters (and all with convoluted angst-ridden pasts that come into play) that it takes some time to determine whos wronging whom and why.

Protagonist Chrysabelle is a commare, a race bred essentially as vampire food, and who must regularly give blood to their assigned patrons. Chrysabelle, however, is in a state of turmoil: not only has she lost her patron, but shes being hunted by a group of vampire baddies who are after the magical ring they believe Chrysabelle is hiding.

At least, thats the plot as far as I can discern it. Although theres a good deal of verbiage and action going on, the plethora of point of view characters mean that the plot is exceedingly diluted, which each scene progressing things in only a marginal way. This is further worsened by the fact that many of the scenes overlap, meaning that we see the same things repeated, but from a different point of view. Given the immensely slow pacing of this book, the effect is as though one is reading through molasses*.

Part of the issue is that so much page space is given over to events that seem to play little role in the overall plot arc: the character Creek, for example, although admittedly a spunky kind of guy (albeit with Oedipal issues), seems to do little more than act as an antagonising force to challenge Chrysabelles love interest, Mal. Weirdly, alpha-male Mal responds by making angry eyebrows at Creek, and then calling a drawChrysabelle is good enough to share, it seems, and shes totally cool with that. Then theres Tatiana, who is your standard-issue Very Bad Person, and who delights in unfettered sadism and the odd bit of mass murdering. (She also has a scary metal hand as proof that she has lost her humanity.)

Overall, the characterisation suffers from both a lack of consistency and a lack of depth: characters such as Mal seem to bend to authorial whim rather than acting as one would imagine that they should, while others simply feel sloppily drawn. There are also reveals such as a long-lost family member of Chrysabelles that are dealt with hastily rather than being given the attention and response they should evoke. Other than the minor characters of Doc and his love interest Fiona, I found it incredibly difficult to identify with anyone in the book, and this had a significant impact on my enjoyment of the reading experience.

I felt, too, that the setting also struggles for realism, in part because despite the fact that Painter has done some interesting stuff with her various magical beings and their histories, theyre slapped into the all-too-familiar scenario of a gloomy citys seamy underbelly, where they cavort around vampire clubs and lurk about in the bushes on gritty streets frequented by prostitutes.

Finally, theres the cliffhanger ending thats so abrupt that I didnt even realise the novel was finished until I found myself reading the glossary. Its fortunate that the subsequent few volumes in the series are being released roughly all at once, as I suspect there may be a few readers who are unhappy with the ending of this one.

In all, Flesh and Blood wasnt for me, but should appeal to lovers of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

*worst phrase in the world, but hey, I dont profess to be a writer#.

#well, only a freelance writer.

Rating: star Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painterstar Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painterblankstar Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painterblankstar Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painterblankstar Book Review: Flesh and Blood by Kristen Painter (okay)

With thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy

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Other books by Kristen Painter:

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  1. If you want to read an urban fantasy series with characters that have depth I recommend Karen Marie Monings The Fever series (check out her website here: Truly one of the best character developments of a woman that I have read. The first book is a little deceptive as to how dark the series gets, but all five books make up a truly great urban fantasy series (frankly I dont really think of it as a true genre piece because Monings writing is really good and I feel her characters transcend their urban fantasy universe.)

  2. Stephanie /

    Thanks so much for the recommendation, Jami! Im always after books with great women characters who are strong in the well-rounded sense rather than simply men-with-boobs-style strong. Ill definitely check these out. :)