3.5 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
Blood Song is a generic, urban fantasy, kick-butt heroine, vampire hunter thriller. All the rote copied elements of ditzy urban fantasy with the possible exception of the excruciatingly banal love triangle are present here. The protagonist is very blatantly a wish fulfillment power fantasy, the writing gets very choppy in parts, and the story doesn’t really hold together completely when looked at with all the information. Despite all this, as urban fantasy goes this book is definitely a cut above most of the genre. It moves well, the plot isn’t at any point based on characters making excruciatingly bad decisions, and the setting is actually kind of engaging. This isn’t great literature; it isn’t even a departure from the formula for this genre of books, but if you want to read urban fantasy, then I would say that Blood Song will probably be something of a treat for you, as it is markedly better than most in the genre.
Celia Graves is a bodyguard in a weird version of contemporary reality where people are constantly menaced by supernatural entities but continue to live their lives almost indistinguishably from the way we live our lives without supernatural monsters hounding us at every turn. She starts off as a normal person, but soon develops a host of supernatural abilities, which she is of course very angsty about. There’s some overarching plot about being a royal bodyguard and some elaborate CIA plot with werewolves, but mostly she is just angsty, develops more super powers at every turn, and shoots or slices up villains that swoop into the plot only to be summarily dismissed.
The protagonist is a mess. The author doesn’t really ground the character as anything believable before starting to give her supernatural powers, so the attempts to make her seem relatable fall flat and consist of her crying randomly and liking food. I’m sorry, but people need food to live, and it takes a bit more than a character having a desire to not die of starvation for them to be relatable to me. Despite me also being human and needing to eat to not die, if I were to suddenly gain super strength, immortality, super senses, and super sexiness to the opposite gender, my first reaction would probably not to have a crying fit bemoaning the fact that maybe I couldn’t eat all the exact same dishes that I prefered previous to my transformation because I would be too busy doing cartwheels of joy at my good fortune. The protagonist spends pretty much all of her characterization time with angsty whining about how she is cursed with being so awesome and how it might have slight disadvantages to her already charmed life.
Despite all the vapid angsty whining, I would still consider Blood Song to be better than most things in a similar genre just because while a lot of the elements in the book are kind of stupid, at least they work consistently and fit with the setting that the author is creating. Once you accept that in this world supernatural monsters are everywhere waiting to eat normal people and somehow people don’t seem very prepared for it, then the setting actually makes sense. There isn’t any ridiculous cloak and dagger secret conspiracy to keep the supernatural secret, the author doesn’t try to explain away all the impossible magic stuff with deeply flawed science, and, given the setting, it isn’t entirely unreasonable that some people would choose to be supernatural bodyguards and others would choose to be cashiers at drugstores.
Given the genre and style of the book, Blood Song mostly just works. The romance isn’t really sexy unless someone spraying magic around like silly string in a can arouses you, the story has some weird jumps in it at fairly central points to the story like someone lost some pages from the original manuscript, and the protagonist is a boring jerk, but at least you aren’t cringing or disturbed at what the author thinks is sexy, the story actually moves to a somewhat meaningful conclusion, and the protagonist is less boring and less of a jerk than the protagonists in most of the genre. If you like girl protagonists in the urban fantasy supernatural thriller category, you will probably enjoy this book; if not, I would avoid it.
Comparisons to Other Authors:
This book is strictly better than something like Rachel Caine’s Outcast Season series, starting with Undone. It really is nice to have something in this genre with a consistent setting where the story doesn’t just drag, and, if nothing else, Blood Song should be commended for that.