Blood Kin: Almost nothing happens

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Maria Lima Blood Lines 3: Blood KinBlood Kin by Maria Lima

I recently received a review copy of the fourth Blood Lines book, Blood Heat. I realized then that I hadn’t yet read the third installment, Blood Kin, and decided to remedy that before starting Blood Heat. I’m glad I read it — there are a couple of revelations that will no doubt be important to the series — but as an individual novel, Blood Kin is disappointing.

The main plot here is that Keira has been summoned by the family matriarch, Minerva “Gigi” Kelly, to the family compound in Canada. She brings her brother Tucker, Tucker’s boyfriend Niko, and her Sidhe cousin Daffyd along with her. Due to weather and other complications, the group is stuck in Vancouver spinning their wheels for a while. They learn that mysterious deaths are occurring in the vicinity of a folk music festival, and take it upon themselves to do a little investigating. Several “interludes” are told from the point of view of characters affected by the events at the festival. These chapters evoke an older style of urban fantasy, reminding me of Charles de Lint’s tales of music-loving misfits on the streets of Canadian cities, but unfortunately Maria Lima doesn’t do as much with this plot thread as I might have hoped.

The interaction between Keira and her various friends and family members is sometimes entertaining and leads to a few amusing zingers, such as when Keira asks Adam if his initial attraction to her was based on a supernatural “imprinting” and he replies: “This isn’t some badly written young adult stalker romance, Keira.” (The comment loses a little of its oomph, though, when Adam fesses up to some stalker behavior of his own not long after.) Unfortunately, most of the family-chat scenes are a little flat. The dialogue is often stilted (does anyone really address their siblings as “brother” or “sister” constantly?) and the characters spend much of their time discussing political machinations from decades past. This leads to a few big bombshells, but overall, the political rehashing takes up far too much of the book.

The mystery plot has issues as well. It takes a long time for this plot to intersect with Keira’s arc. When it does, Keira misses obvious clues too often in her investigation. Then, the final resolution of the mystery is anticlimactic. This whole plotline feels like a pretext to get Keira and her friends to go to a particular supernatural location.

Blood Kin ends with the characters in much the same positions they were at the beginning of the book. A few crucial secrets have been revealed, but a reader could glean the same information by browsing a review more spoilery than mine. Almost nothing actually happens in this book, and I hope Blood Heat is a return to the elements that have made this series fun.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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