Demon Blood, by Meljean Brook

>> Sunday, August 08, 2010

TITLE: Demon Blood
AUTHOR: Meljean Brook

PAGES: 414

SETTING: Contemporary Europe
TYPE: Paranormal romance
SERIES: 6th full novel in the Guardians series. There are also several novellas, but all except the first one (IMO), are "extra" to the overarching story that's developed throughout the series.

REASON FOR READING: This is my absolute favourite ongoing series.

Long before she was transformed into a Guardian and trained to fight demons, Rosalia knew darkness all too well. Raised by a demon, Rosalia learned to guard her heart—and her soul—until she found a man worthy of her love. Once, she thought that man would be the powerful vampire, Deacon…until he betrayed the Guardians.

After losing everything to the lies of a demon, Deacon lives only for revenge—and is taken aback when Rosalia offers to help. A vampire who has nothing—who is nothing—isn’t worthy of her attention. But Rosalia wants to do more than just look, and the explosive need between them can’t be held in check. And when Deacon’s vengeful quest creates a dangerous alliance of their enemies, she will be his only hope…
As with previous books, I won't bother summing up the series for newcomers to it. Too much stuff has happened over the last 5 books and I'd probably screw up and spoil things. So if you're a newcomer best go read this excellent primer at the author's website. Or even better, start at the beginning. Quite a few of the books stand alone, but you'll be missing out by not seeing the story develop as it was meant to. And now stop reading this review, because you're about to get spoilt! ;-)

For those who've been following the series, Demon Blood follows the traumatic events at the end of Demon Forged and very surprisingly to me, has as its hero the vampire Deacon, whose actions triggered all that chaos.

After his disastrous forced bargain with a demon, Deacon is out for revenge and has decided to kill demons until he's killed by one himself. When the beautiful Guardian Rosalia (you'll remember her as the one who was found in a crypt at the beginning of Demon Forged, with a spike through her head and nephilim feeding of her for months) offers her help, Deacon is suspicious. She offers the chance to kill demons much more easily and with much less risk than he could on his own, but it's clear she wants something from him. It's clear she has a plan she wants Deacon to be a part of, and Deacon is tired of being manipulated.

Ah, Demon Blood, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways*.

I love thee because I couldn't stop turning the pages, because I started reading and fell into your world, and never wanted to come up for air.

I love thee because of the complexity and subtlety of your characters. The ways they react to things are not obvious or even (in quite a few cases) at all predictable. And yet they feel right for those particular characters. Because the author has actually taken the time to develop them and they feel like real people, with all their irrationalities and contradictions.

I love thee for proving yet again (as if I wasn't convinced!) that it's all in how the character is done. Rosalia might be virginal and in love with Deacon from afar forever, with him hardly knowing she exists. She's might also be a bit of a martyr sometimes, especially with her son. But though this has often bugged the hell out of me, I realise it's because those authors made their heroines all about their innocence and weakness. They were one-dimensional, and their virginity and doormat qualities were meant to be shorthand to tell us readers that these characters were nice and good and what women should be. Rosalia was so much more than those particular elements of her character. She was a strong woman with some weaknesses, with insecurities, as we all have. I understood and loved her and wouldn't have changed a thing about her.

I love thee because Rosalia is the most amazing strategist there could ever be. Because she plans ahead and has thousands of possible permutations worked out, and yet can be flexible enough to and grab opportunities when they appear from nothing and work them into her plan. I'd hire her in a minute, if I had a company. In fact, if she was real, I'd create a company in order to hire her, because she could turn it into an empire within weeks. She illustrates perfectly the fine line between manipulation and strategic thinking.

I love thee because Rosalia's huge, game-changing plan was actually huge and game-changing, and breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity.

I love thee because Deacon was a hero to die for, because I loved seeing this broken man slowly, so slowly, come to realise his worth. And I loved his vulnerability mixed up with his huge strength.

I love thee for the romance, for two characters who are clearly meant to be together and yet don't think they can. There are little slightly cliched moments there that I've read a hundred times before, like Rosalia telling Deacon the truth about her long-time crush on him, but not telling him that she's talking about him, and Deacon then becoming jealous and for a while interpreting every tender gesture as Rosalia seeing this man in him. But for being in such a fresh, unusual, completely non-cliched book, the bits that are cliches feel fresh again.

I love thee because in your world there are rules and those rules have consequences, and none more than those regarding free will. The exploration of that angle was fantastic. It has been always floating there in the series, but here the concept and its implications are made clear. And while other authors might create a loophole, no matter how illogical, for its implications on motherhood, Brook doesn't, and takes things to their most logical, if heartbreaking, conclusion.

I love thee for your exploration of motherhood - the good, the bad, and how the same feeling of fierce, protective love can sometimes be for the good, sometimes for the bad.

I love thee because you're beautifully written and because it's writing that expects me to keep up and make the effort. Because while not being needlessly complicated, not every single detail is spelled out, and I feel that the author trusts me to understand things.

I love thee for the big story and for the small. Because this is very much part of the Big Picture good vs. evil fight, but the smaller story also stands alone. Because there is balance between the two.

I love thee because the bits setting up the final and much-expected book are integrated perfectly into Rosalia and Deacon's story and don't feel like sequel-baiting.

I even love thee for thy cover, which is beautiful, and is exactly the way I imagined Rosalia.

But most of all, I love thee for being right there with the best books of this series, keeping the quality high and making me crave the next book like a drug.


* With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I know I'm not quite paraphrasing!


Cindy Bailey,  8 August 2010 at 07:19  

Just wanted to say how much I agree with you about "Demon Blood"!  I cried almost through the whole book, and I read it in one sitting!  Couldn't wait to read how it all ended, but hated to see it end.  I LOVED it!

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