August 22, 2010

Le Freak C'est Chic (Review: Blood Feud by A. Harvey)

Blood Feud
Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury 2010

Blood Feud is the second instalment of The Drake Chronicles. I don't think that there are spoilers here, but if you haven't read book one (My Love Lies Bleeding/Hearts At Stake) then better to be safe than sorry.

The action and romance continue as the Drakes face a new vampire with a 200-year-old grudge.It’s been centuries since Isabeau St. Croix barely survived the French Revolution. Now she’s made her way back to the living and she must face the ultimate test by confronting the evil British lord who left her for dead the day she turned into a vampire. That’s if she can control her affection for Logan Drake, a vampire whose bite is as sweet as the revenge she seeks (blurb courtesy of Goodreads).
I reviewed My Love Lies Bleeding (Hearts At Stake in the US) several months ago and have been looking forward to Blood Feud ever since. I was curious to see if Alyxandra Harvey could maintain the breakneck pace and witty banter of the original through this follow up and am pleased to be able to announce that she does so with assurance and style.
Blood Feud takes us back into the vampire world as inhabited by the Drake Family. The story takes off almost directly where MLLB finished. The Drakes find themselves operating within a Royal court, complete with politics, intrigue and bad d├ęcor – never mind archenemy Montmartre shading about the edges. As we find them, they are welcoming representatives from the Cwm Mmau (a separate vampire sect) and the Helios-Ra (vampire hunters) in the hopes of forming a coalition force against Montmartre and the particularly vicious Hel-Blar. I have to take a moment here just to point out how fabulous all of these names are... I love new mythology and each of one these separate factions is steeped in it, with all the names holding great relevance to their owners. Fabulousness, indeed.

While MLLB was told from the points of view of Lucy (the Drakes human familiar, for want of a better word) and Solange (the only daughter in the family), Blood Feud switches to a duel narrative. The story is told from the perspectives of Logan Drake – frock coat wearing, Byron loving, Drake brother and Isabeau – Hound handmaiden and erstwhile survivor of the French revolution. I was initially a bit wary of the change of focus, wanting to find out more about Solange's situation and particularly wishing to see plenty of Lucy and Nicholas but found that the new narratives were so enjoyable that I didn't care. All the old faces are still about with Lucy and Nicholas providing some hilarious dialogue when they do appear (although an exchange between Logan and Nicholas makes me suspect that there may be angst in store for the couple in later installments). However, this story really belongs to Logan and Isabeau and works all the better for it.

Logan is easy to like. Standing apart from his brothers due to his rather archaic sartorial flair and dramatic, romantic nature, he is utterly charming and the fact that he knows it only works further for him. In most other characters, rushed declarations of love mere hours from meeting would seem ridiculous but Logan carries it off with aplomb. The camaraderie he shares with his brothers is a lot of fun while his somewhat mindless protection of Solange is both hilarious and touching. For me, though, it was Isabeau who made this such a page turner. As a Hound (a vampire left to go through the “blood change” without assistance therefore developing two sets of fangs and a somewhat wild nature) she is considered freakish by other vampires. Left alone in a coffin for two hundred years, she is desperate to wreak revenge on the creature that put her there. I really enjoyed the flashbacks to her childhood both pre and during the French revolution which surprised me as I have a (shameful) tendency to skim read anything remotely historical. There is some lovely fore-shadowing in a scene where a young Isabeau falls asleep with raspberry stained lips, surrounded by the poodles of the French gentry.

Every now and again you come across a writer who you just really enjoy and for me Alyxandra Harvey is one of these authors. Her writing is fast paced – like MLLB, Blood Feud is fairly short yet covers an amazing amount of ground. This, combined with the complex mythology, means that readers really need to keep their wits about them in order to avoid confusion. I don't mean this as a criticism – I like a writer who doesn't feel the need to spoon feed readers. I love the structure of Alyxandra's plots, the nuances of her writing and her humour (“deranged monkeys” - ha!). And the Drake brothers are a truly wonderful creation – who wouldn't enjoy reading about seven, gorgeous, funny and protective young men. Delicious. I am delighted that the next book in this series is out so soon as I certainly am looking forward to reading more of the same.

As a brief postscript, mad props again to Bloomsbury for creating such a gorgeous cover.  It beats the rather cheesy American one hands down.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this title to review.

3 comments:

thebookfairyhaven said...

I still have My Love Lies Bleeding sitting in my documents (I have the Ebook version), but after reading your review of Blood Feud, I'm going to make MLLB a priority read!Fantastic review as always - I'm beginning to sound like a repetitive parrot I know, but I really do enjoy reading your reviews! They're entertaining, informative and always make me want to read the book even when it's from a genre I normally avoid!

secretnightfall said...

"All the old faces are still about with Lucy and Nicholas providing some hilarious dialogue when they do appear (although an exchange between Logan and Nicholas makes me suspect that there may be angst in store for the couple in later installments." - If there is any angst for them I know I am deffinately going to cry! I love the Nicholas/Lucy relationship.

Rhiana said...

I enjoyed this one even more than MLLB. I LOVED Isabeau and her back story. And frock coat wearing Logan...nice!