Blood Trail: A mixed bag

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Tanya Huff Blood TrailBlood Trail by Tanya Huff

Blood Trail is the second in Tanya Huff’s Blood Books series featuring Vicki Nelson, private investigator, and Henry Fitzroy, vampire and illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

The novel opens with Vicki accepting an invitation to Henry’s place to talk about a possible new case. It’s been a few months since the events of Blood Price, and the flirtation between Vicki and Henry is ramped up a notch. Their new case involves a pack of werewolves living near London, Canada, who are being picked off one by one by a talented marksman.

Like Blood Price, Blood Trail is a mixed bag. I love the relationship between Vicki and Mike, and the jealousy that both Mike and Henry feel about Vicki is real and touching. The brief sex scenes are well-written and erotic.

Huff does incredibly well showing the great outdoors from the point of view of a city girl. In fact, in all her novels, Huff is very good at describing the surroundings so that they take on a character of their own (Toronto in the first novel, and here the farm and surrounding lands that the pack lives in).

I liked the pack, and the fact that they were presented as very much other than human. These are not ordinary people who turn into wolves at the full moon. A human cannot be changed into a werewolf, but must be born as one. Daniel/Shadow is absolutely adorable! The question of alpha males, and the tension between Stuart and Henry, was excellently written. I found the twin bond a little more questionable, especially when it wandered down the path of possible incest. Sure, animals are different, but this jarred me a little.

My problem with the pack was the sheer number of werewolves. The Blood Books are fairly slim volumes compared to other urban fantasies, and Huff still manages to pack loads in. Here, this meant that most of the pack became merely names rather than characters. This wasn’t helped by the fact that each werewolf has both a human name and a fur-form name as well, so that the reader is bombarded with new names.

I felt that the mystery was pretty clumsy. The deliberate misdirection was ill-done, and Mark Williams felt as though he had blundered into the wrong story — as though Huff had created her original villain, but then realized that the plot didn’t fill enough pages and so introduced the callous nephew.

I also had a problem with the fact that the flashbacks to Henry’s past and the excerpts from the point of view of the shooter and the main narrative all had the same voice and tone. It didn’t flow naturally.

My final issue is that Vicki seemed almost sidelined (which I think is an additional problem from adding all those new characters in the pack). She didn’t move on or grow as a character, which is a shame because I think her position is an interesting one. I also wondered at the fact that Vicki showed no moral dilemma about blood taking or vampires.

I did, on the other hand, find Mike’s stance on bringing the killers to trial rather than going for personal vengeance a powerful one. It also highlighted effectively that Vicki had not really shared these thoughts. Is this because Vicki has left the police force? Or does Mike have a more black and white view on the world? Regardless, it certainly kept me thinking about the book long after I closed the last page, which is a good thing!

Blood Trail is definitely an average entry in the series, but still interesting enough to encourage a devoted reader to continue.


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AMANDA RUTTER, one of our guest reviewers, used to be an accountant in the UK but she escaped the world of numbers and is now living in a fantasy world she creates. She runs Angry Robot's YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. And we knew her when....

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