Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of Blood Bound by Sharon Stevenson, a paranormal romantic adventure which I finished reading last Sunday.
Characters: Blood Bound follows late-teen twins Sarah and Shaun Gallows as they perform their duties as “demon trackers,” working for “The Council.”
Sarah and Shaun were born “fallen,” descendants of angel-human procreation, so they have superhuman physical abilities and typical human character traits. They need their superhuman physicality not only to track, but to dispatch the demons who possess humans, turning them into vampires.
Sarah’s favorite method seems to be decapitation via samurai sword.
Sharon does a great job of characterization, and even now, a week after I finished reading Blood Bound, and well into my next book, I still see Sarah and Shaun clearly.
Sarah is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, a strong red-headed girl, who favors heavy eye makeup for her sparkling blue eyes, and dresses darkly in black jeans, biker boots and aviator jacket.
Particularly endearing to me is Sarah’s penchant for late-night b-grade horror movie marathons.
Where her massive twin, 6′ 2″ Shaun, is grumpy and methodical, just wanting to do the job and go home to drink vodka and eat junk food, Sarah is quick-witted, impulsive and idealistic, wanting to do what she thinks is the right thing whether it’s part of the job or not.
Here, they debate invading a high school prom after sensing something unsavoury inside. Shaun is against it.
“We can’t just walk into a high school…”
“Says who, misery-guts?” She raised an eyebrow at him. Anyone else would have melted by now. Her energy was catching to most, human boys in particular. Even if she’d been merely human her looks would have had the same effect. In spite of her messy hair and slightly scary dark eye make-up, Sarah’s looks got her wherever she wanted. She wasn’t about to let her excruciatingly dull and charmless brother hold her back. He sighed to himself.
“We don’t even know what’s going on in there,” he told her.
“We’ll find out soon enough.” She headed inside.
Even minor characters get good doses of description, like Sarah and Shaun’s grandmother:
Sarah watched her brother straighten when their gran walked in. The old woman was pushing Ninety and the years had been less than kind; withering her face and colouring it in rough patches of red against the pale.
There are plenty of supporting characters, including human boys Ben, Dev and Ray, all drawn to Sarah like moths to an electric bug zapper. They too are clearly and vividly drawn through action, dialogue and physical description.
Plot: When Sarah and Shaun, against the Council’s orders, go after Melissa, a fellow teen demon-tracker who, with her parents, has been engaging in nasty activities, they blow open a Pandora’s box of horror and violence. Even worse, it appears that Shaun and the hot, though psychotic Melissa are “blood bound” — fated to be lovers forever.
Setting: The twins live in an isolated rural village called Burrow Meadows, and make forays via train and taxi into nearby towns and suburban areas in their assigned territory to take care of the Council’s and their own unauthorized business.
Sharon does a decent job with settings — enough to orient the reader, though not showcasing any of the locations. I did enjoy her brief description of the supernaturals nightclub where Shaun takes Sarah’s boyfriends Dev and Ray. Note the sensory description.
The club reeked of witch. He could taste the earthy undertones of werewolf buried beneath but the traces weren’t lingering like the witch smell. He supposed it could be his imagination. Dev was a footstep behind him the entire time, walking up the black painted stairs to the main bar and taking in the decidedly crummy gothic-style décor with wild eyed wonder.
What I thought could’ve been done better: Like many indie books, Blood Bound has its share of typos, though on balance I’d say there’s less here than most. Still, any instance at all is a bit jarring. For instance — “…she showed a general distain for make-up…” Should be “disdain,” not “distain.”
And, “The vampire would need fed again tomorrow…” Should probably be “The vampire would need to be fed…” or “The vampire would need feeding…”
I found some of Sharon’s attributions a bit disconcerting. Attributions are normally words like “said,” “replied,” snorted,” “bellowed,” “whispered” — that is, they are physical action verbs that provide a word-picture of the physical act of speaking.
Sharon uses non-physical verbs as attribution, such as “She thinks I didn’t kill Ben’s maker,” she realized with a smirk.
Realized is not a good attribution for a spoken sentence, imho, because it’s a mental process, like “thought.” Better — again just my subjective opinion — “She thinks I didn’t kill Ben’s maker,” she said, smirking with the realization.
I also felt Blood Bound could’ve been tightened up a bit. Shaun and Sarah head out on many action-packed forays that end inconclusively without seeming to advance the plot. Even so, Sharon’s narrative style is taut, verbal, and sensory, making it easy to read, which brings me to the next section.
What I thought was good: The pleasure I found in reading Blood Bound far outweighed the minor points detailed in the preceding section. As I’ve mentioned, Sharon’s writing is verbal and sensory, making it easy to experience the story.
Stepping forward she realised too late the basement was missing stairs. The plummet wasn’t even 10ft but it hurt like hell when she smashed into the concrete. Something was broken. She groaned, lifting herself and touching her aching left arm. Looking never helped. She could feel the bone sticking out and it needed to go back. She gritted her teeth and pushed it back into place. Pain made her head swim but it wasn’t the first time she’d broken a bone and she suspected it wouldn’t be the last either. She stared into the darkness. Her enhanced vision locked on the vampires, their glowing amber eyes fixed on her.
The mix of cloyingly sweet and rancid was one of those smells she’d never forget. The job never let her. Evil things liked to kill. They weren’t so keen on cleaning up.
Love that — “They weren’t so keen on cleaning up.”
One of my favorite bits of recurring business is Sarah’s teasing of her dour brother with unflattering nicknames like “unfortunate face,” “misery guts,” and, love this one — “polly perceptive pants.”
While Blood Bound offers some sexy romantic content, it’s the action sequences I liked best. Sharon is generous with the action. Love this, from the book’s opening scene:
All hell broke loose. The vampires flung themselves forward at full pelt. Sarah swung into action, taking off heads left, right, and centre. She matched their unnatural speed effortlessly; lithely tearing the monsters apart before a single undead claw could come close enough to touch.
Overall: Blood Bound is a wonderful revel in paranormal fantasy adventure, with touches of teen-aged angst. Though a touch overlong, and with a typo here and there, Sharon has penned a humorous, sexy, and most of all, action-packed tale rich in characterization and emotion.
Good job, Sharon!
And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!