Matters of the Blood: Urban fantasy without the “urban”

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Maria Lima Matters of the Blood Blood LinesMatters of the Blood by Maria Lima

Maria Lima rings some refreshing changes on the urban-fantasy formula in Matters of the Blood. The two most striking departures from cliché, to my mind, are the heroine’s age (37, rather than early twenties), and the story’s vividly-drawn rural-Texas setting. I loved the locale. Lima does a great job of making the lonely town of Rio Seco real to the reader.

Our heroine, Keira Kelly, comes from a long supernatural line; there’s a brief passage that suggests she’s one of the Sidhe. Members of her family come into their full power during what would be middle age for a mortal. Keira is going through her “change” early, while trying to keep her family from finding out and drawing her back into their internecine politics. The surge in Keira’s power results in disturbing premonitions, and soon, Keira’s quiet life is shaken by a murder mystery, a meddling brother, cryptic warnings from the townspeople, unwanted attention from her sheriff ex-lover, and a reacquaintance with a handsome, enigmatic friend from her past.

Some of the most tantalizing bits of Matters of the Blood are those in which Keira alludes to her past. There’s a huge backstory just beneath the surface of Keira’s life — before she retreated to Rio Seco, she moved in glittering circles in Europe and performed a sort of euthanasia for jaded immortals — and I hope Lima explores it further in later Keira novels.

I think my favorite moment in Matters of the Blood occurred when two characters “came out” of the supernatural closet to each other, and one of them didn’t believe in the type of entity that the other confessed to being. It cracked me up, and is unique in the genre; usually, the various types of supernatural beings are all aware of each other’s existence.

Matters of the Blood is quirky, sexy, sometimes quite funny, and worth reading if you’re a fan of urban fantasies with a substantial helping of romance. I look forward to seeing what Lima, and Keira, do next.

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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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