Monday, April 13, 2015

Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zweiback – Book 2

Author: Steven A Roman

First published: 2015

Contains spoilers


She was stabbed in the heart with an ancient mystical spear. Her mother was kidnapped by a band of vampires led by a fallen angel. Their goal: unleashing hell on earth. And every living creature on the planet faces extinction at the hands of biblical monsters. But for Pandora Zwieback, the worst may be yet to come.

In this terrifying next chapter of the story begun in the critically acclaimed novel Blood Feud, join the teenaged Goth adventuress as she discovers that death is only the beginning of her saga...

The review: I looked at the first volume in this series some time ago but was excited to get opportunity to look at book 2. The series is, I would say, most definitely Young Adult in tone but it contains a knowing edge that allows the more mature reader purchase to the world created by Roman.

The probable reason is the sassy voice offered to character Pandora, whilst chronologically sixteen her background allows the author to add a maturity to her voice that does not feel out of place but also keep a seam of youthful vulnerability running through her. Said character died at the end of book 1 – a cliff-hanger that is open for spoiling given the blurb to this volume tells us as much. Her resurrection probably has a lot to do with her power as a healer but, in many respects, remains a deliberate mystery.

If the first volume took some deliberate pacing steps to build Pandora’s character, this volume eschews that as it thunders along at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breath at any given time (and, I must say, the volume was devoured at speed as well). The book doesn’t suffer for this, our characters are known and the action distracts from the trait that might be deemed by some as an underlying flaw (common in young adult books) namely how are the adults letting the kids go off and put themselves in danger? Of course there is some mystical sneaking out (as it were) and ultimately there has to be a suspension of disbelief.

This is made easier to achieve by, beyond the breakneck pace, the knowing edge to Roman’s prose. He openly flaunts things such as the super-villain’s need to indulge ego rather than simply destroying his arch-nemesis. That knowingness lets us in on the joke, and being in on it we accept it. Roman throws in a Vlad Ţepeş cameo, short enough to be amusing, indeed all his Vampire House names are recognisable and it is telling as to the quality of the prose that this does not seem clichéd – we even hear about House Karnstein having been formed by Carmilla. The sly, fanboyish humour eventually coalesces in the form of sugar-zoms – zombies that desire confectionery as much as human flesh.

I thoroughly enjoyed this volume, it didn’t suffer from mid-trilogy-itus (probably down to that pace again) but rather drove the reader forward and deposited us on the last page to impatiently await book 3. 7.5 out of 10.

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