Blood Feud: Thin characters, dull romance

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBlood Feud by Alyxandra HarveyBlood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey

Blood Feud is the second of Alyxandra Harvey’s DRAKE CHRONICLES. The first book, Hearts at Stake, told how Solange Drake survived the Bloodchange on her sixteenth birthday and became the first female vampire to do so in centuries. Her mother Helena is about to take the throne as the vampire queen while Leander Montmarte, an old and powerful vampire, pursues princess Solange.

Meanwhile, a woman named Isabeau St. Croix, who we met briefly in the first novel, is hunting the vampire who killed her during the French Revolution. She spent years living in her grave until she was dug up and given a chance to “live” again. Her search for her killer brings her in contact with the Drake family. Can she resist the charms of one of Solange’s seven gorgeous brothers? Of course not. Blood Feud focuses on Isabeau’s revenge quest and her budding romance with Logan Drake. The story is told from their alternating perspectives. Other characters who we know from Hearts at Stake are present, too.

As I said in my review of Hearts at Stake, this is a very fluffy series with a focus on teenage romance and I’m trying to keep that in mind as I review these books. Those in the intended audience are likely to find them fun and romantic, but I hope that teenagers don’t think these shallow instant relationships represent true love. Frankly, I thought this particular romance was boring. Logan and Isabeau are rather dull characters and the romance is dull as well.

The problem is that most of Harvey’s characters are so thinly portrayed. We got to know Solange and Lucy pretty well in the first book, but the rest of the crew — both heroes and villains — lack depth. Solange’s seven hot brothers seem like copy and paste characters except for the one aspect of their personality that identifies them — one is a computer geek, one likes to wear vintage clothing, etc. Leander Montmarte, the villain who wants to marry Solange, never feels like a real person and neither do the other villains.

Some of Isabeau’s backstory is told in flashbacks, so we get to visit the French Revolution, which may be a nice history lesson for teenagers. But these scenes lack originality — they contain the expected elements as if they were taken straight from the set of a Les Misérables production. (In fact, Isabeau was imprisoned for stealing medicine for her dying daughter — sounds a little familiar…).

I listened to the audiobook version read by Macleod Andrews, who narrates the chapters from Logan’s perspective, and Nicola Barber, who reads Isabeau’s chapters. I understand why they want to have two narrators for a book that’s told from the perspective of both a male and female lead character, but I don’t think it works well because both narrators must read lines for both characters. So Logan and Isabel end up having two different voices —one from each narrator. This makes it sound disjointed and strange. For example, Macleod Andrews’ French accent is quite different from Nicola Barber’s, so Isabeau sounds like she’s two different people. For this reason, I think one narrator works better.

I’m not impressed with the DRAKE CHRONICLES, but please keep in mind that I’m a jaded middle-aged married woman. These books have lots of young fans gushing over them at Goodreads and Amazon.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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