BLOOD RIGHTS (House of Comarre #1)
Orbit/Hachette Book Group
Received at BEA
Chrysabelle is a Comarre, a human whose blood is richer and more delectable than a regular person's, which makes her and those like her very special to the vampire race. The wealthiest of the vampires purchase the blood rights of the Comarre as a symbol of their wealth and status, and Chrysabelle's rights are the highest of all.
When her patron is murdered in his home–beheaded by a weapon used often by the Comarre in their training–Chrysabelle immediately becomes the prime suspect. Tatiana, a vampire hoping to take Chrysabelle's patron's role in the world of vampire politics, goes on the hunt as she suspects Chrysabelle of not only killing her patron, but also of stealing a ring that will grant the wearer unimaginable power and change the rules by which the paranormal and the normal are governed.
Chrysabelle, not accustomed to living in the human world, seeks assistance and finds herself uncomfortably aligned with a vampire named Malkolm. When he inadvertently claims her blood rights, they are forced to work together to clear Chrysabelle's name and stop Tatiana from destroying the fragile peace created by humanity's ignorance of their kind. But for two individuals with innumerable secrets between them, opening up their lives to one another is a monstrous price to pay, and possibly one neither can afford.
Blood Rights is a story that shines as brightly as the gold filigree embedded in Chrysabelle's skin as an indicator of her status, presenting us with a richly detailed world and characters who have closets positively teeming with skeletons we can't wait to see revealed one intriguing bone at a time. First books in an urban fantasy series are often impressively weighed down by all the little nuances and particularities of the world, forcing us to concentrate so hard to picture what's described that we never fully immerse ourselves and connect, instead banished to the perimeter by detail overload. Ms. Painter beautifully introduces us to her world of vampires and the Comarre who share their lives, a master manipulator of shadows who knows just when to pull the darkness back and reveal enough to soothe our restless minds, and just when to cast that inky blackness back out and obscure what we long to know.
Chrysabelle and Malkolm are both intense individuals, living their lives according to the rules someone else has set for them and wearing the shackles of their slavery as beautiful and brutal ink tattooed on their bodies for all to see and understand their place in the vampire world. They want desperately to carve out a new life for themselves, possessing the physical mettle and the strength of will to do so, but yet they continually find themselves bested by the pull of the intangible strings linking them to their faceless puppeteers. Their relationship is one of uneasy alliance that has the potential to ignite into a blazing fire of passion, and we read on not daring to breathe lest the expulsion of air extinguish the fledgling sparks. The tension continues to mount the deeper they go into unraveling the mystery of Chrysabelle's patron's death, and we discover Ms. Painter has positively intoxicated us with these two individuals as we drink them down with greedy pulls and then turn the page to continue on our binge.
The story itself is spectacularly executed, giving us moments where our hero and heroine engage in battles both mental and physical while interspersing them with the more quiet war each wages against internal demons both past and present. The plot is complex enough as to be continually unpredictable, but never so much as to drown us in a sea of questions that leave us floundering and sputtering as we grasp for answers. Questions remain at the end, and the more we think about the story the more the number of questions we have increases, however our curiosity is never frustrating, remaining instead a reminder of our investment in this world. Ms. Painter has written a brilliant first installment with innumerable legs to stand on moving forward, and we finish reading Blood Rights knowing she's allowed us to take our floaties off and sink beneath the surface, yet we are also acutely aware we've been temporarily relegated to the shallow end of this supernatural pool with much to look forward to in the deeper waters of books two and three.
I should mention that books 2 and 3 in this series are being released in rapid succession, so there will be very little wait in between. YAY!
Flesh and Blood - October 25th
Bad Blood - November 22nd