October 26, 2010

Buffy and The Seven Hot Brothers (Review: Out For Blood; A. Harvey)

Out For Blood
Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury 2010

Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends—or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy? (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

Hot vampire brothers! I've said it before and I am sure I will say it again: the idea is genius. I could just end my review there, really – I'm pretty sure that the mention of seven vampire brothers should be enough to get most of you to at least flick through a copy. Especially as, in this latest installment of The Drake Chronicles, they are likened to a “room full of Johnny Depps”. What's not to love? Nothing, that's what. If you've read my reviews of the first two books in Alyxandra Harvey's massively original vampire series (My Love Lies Bleeding and Blood Feud) then you will already be aware that I am quite the fan of both. Out For Blood is no exception with the action moving slightly away from the Drakes family home and focusing on vampire hunters, and recent and reluctant allies of the Drakes, the Helios-Ra. As with the first two books Out For Blood has a duel narrative structure, this time taking the duel points of view of Quinn Drake (brother number three from youngest) and Hunter Wild, a member of the Helios-Ra's school for vampire hunters.

Hunter is a great character with just the right mix of kick-ass moves, sharp wit and girlishness – she could so easily have come across as tom-boyish or even a bit butch, but instead she is entirely well rounded. I also liked that she was smart as well as tough. Despite being from a long line of hunters, she is intrigued by the new treaties between the Helios-Ra and the Drakes and keen to move with the times. As she slowly realises that things are not all they might seem at her school (which sounds pretty excellent, by the way) her disappointment is palpable. Having been brought up to believe that the Helios-Ra stand for all that is good, it is interesting to watch as she slowly begins to view them more objectively - not least her much loved grandpa, the epitome of a company man. Quinn is, as you would expect, enormously swoon-worthy. He's flirtatious to the point of sleaziness, but the charm exhibited by all the Drake brothers luckily pulls him back from the brink. He also seems a mite more thoughtful than previous Drake narrator Logan, particularly when it comes to Solange. While he is just as (often hilariously) protective of his sister as the rest of them, he at least tries to talk to her about what she is going through. Hunter and Quinn's relationship is fun to watch develop and pretty believable. Hunter is certainly an interesting addition to the ever increasing Drake inner circle.

While the storyline of Out For Blood mainly revolves around the Helios-Ra school, there is still much going on in the Drake household. All is not well with Solange, who is struggling with recent events and reacting to her blood change in ways not foreseen. Nicholas and Lucy are also present. However, I found Lucy rather irritating this time round, particularly her blithe assumption that she is perfectly safe living in what is essentially a nest of vampires. As Quinn muses on this several times, I can't help but wonder if Lucy is in for a bit of a nasty shock at some point in the future. Elsewhere, Helena has been crowned, Hyacinth is still hiding in the attic (or somewhere) and the vicious Hel-Blar continue to roam the area causing havoc and concerns regarding discovery by the world at large. While Logan and Isabeau do appear briefly, they are a quiet presence in the background as rather suits their characters. Certainly there are lots of intriguing story threads ready to be picked up in book four.

Which brings me to my only complaint, which is that the next book will not be released for a whole year. Meh. This is really far too long, but what can you do... The Drake Chronicles has fast become one of my favourite series. Possibly because, while skillfully written, they don't take themselves too seriously. I love the characters (again, SEVEN HOT VAMPIRE BROTHERS!), the plotting and the quick pace at which each story progresses. Alyxandra Harvey manages to combine complex world building and heart-in-mouth romance with thrilling action sequences and a fantastically dry humor. Her writing is some of the most enjoyable out there and I defy anyone not to find themselves drawn into her excellent stories. Bring on another Drake brother – I'm ready and waiting!


Out For Blood is released on 1st November - thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this title to review.

3 comments:

thebookfairyhaven said...

A room full of Johnny Depps and a highly flirtatious vampire? I am completely and 100% sold. Fantastically written review as always - I've said it before and I'll say it again, but your reviews actually somehow always manage to leave me with the impression that I'm living in the story even before I've read it. It's a wonderful review quality to have :)

I've got My Love Lies Bleeding here, but after reading this review, I will be shifting that book higher up on my priority reading list.

Lauren said...

I didn't get along great with the first book in this series, so I haven't kept up with it since. I do like the sound of some of the elements you describe here though. Humour and not taking itself too seriously are definitely pluses for me. You're making me want to give the series another go!

Strange that it's such a long wait for the next book (after the first three seemed to come out in such quick succession) though.

asamum said...

I too am devastated that it is a whole year to the next book. I absolutely adore the Drake Chronicles. The way in which all the characters are progressed while focusing on 2 main protagonists is phenominal