Tour’s Books Blog

May 4, 2011

Book Review: Hard Bitten by Chloe Neill

Filed under: paranormal,Urban Fantasy — toursbooks @ 4:02 pm
Tags: , , ,
  • Title: Hard Bitten
  • Author:  Chloe Neill
  • Type:  Paranormal UF/alternate reality
  • Genre:  Chicagoland Vampires; Female vamp works to save her House from political disaster
  • Sub-genre:  Death and intrigue in Chicago
  • My Grade: A-  (4.5*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Novel – about 90,000+ $9-12, list price $15.00
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

Wow, just, wow. You know how I whine about how predictable the story arcs are in paranormal books?  Well, this one sure broke that trend!  And a lot of readers will be seriously ticked off.

Hard Bitten is the fourth book in the Chicagoland Vampires series. This has been one of the better, more cleverly plotted, and consistent written vampire series out there and this book is no exception.

Chicago vampires have been accused of killing humans at ‘raves’ and the slick Mayor Tate is threatening Ethan Sullivan, Master of Cadogan House, with arrest if he doesn’t do something about it. While Ethan is furious at what’s happening, and with Tate’s threat, he knows something must be done. The former Head of House Navarre, the treacherous Celina, is loose in the city and Merit, Sentinel of Cadogan, has a personal interest in getting her recaptured.  She tried to kill Merit a number of times and longs to let vamps become the predators she feels they should be.

Compounding the vamps problems is human backlash against the vampires. They went from the latest trend to top of the scary things list when open warfare broke out at Cadogan between the two factions of werewolves, a wannabe Alpha trying to unseat his brother from position as Apex.  As a result of the violence, Tate demanded a ‘no humans’ rule for all houses, so the vamps have been slowly rebuilding on the their own.  Now, with their property entrance surrounded by picketing humans, out of control vamps killing, and some would be para-military hate group threatening vamps, Ethan and Merit have a lot to deal with, and that gets worse when Darius West, head of the vampire ruling Presidium, shows up with just a few hours notice.

Merit gets a tip on a rave and goes with another vamp that wants to recruit her for the secretive Red Guard (an ancient order of vamps that keeps that keeps all of them in line). What seems like a run of the mill rave turns ugly when the vamps gets uncontrollably aggressive and leak magic all over. They barely get out alive and the human girl they rescue gives them the next clue, pills marked with a ‘V’.

As Merit works to unravel what’s going down, Darius West seems to be going out of his way to threaten Ethan. The ending of this story was full of surprises, a few that readers won’t like at all (and frankly shocked even me), and they send plot line into some darker territory.   Ms Neill took a truly audacious chance with her ending, but read it carefully.  It’s the kind of thing that will cause dissension among readers and leave many unhappy. It will be interesting to see where the next installment, due in November (had it on pre-order since April), takes it.

This whole series is above average and each book has built on the last, but never dull or boring. Ms Neill keeps the over-riding plot and pace moving and creates some excellent characters along the way. Written with verve and feeling, this book earns a rare A- from me. But readers be warned, this story does NOT go where you expect it to.

Is Hard Bitten worth $9-12?  YES – but with a caveat.  If you don’t handle tragedy well, you might want to wait till November to read this one when Drink Deep is out to see how Ms Neill deals with her daring move here.

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