Monday, December 04, 2017

Love Lies Bleeding – review

Author: Aspasia S Bissas

First published: 2017 (2nd Edition)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: What happens when a predator loves its prey?

Centuries-old Mara is dying a slow death when she meets Lee, a young man whose life has never belonged to him. Thrown together, they're forced to fight those who would destroy them and survive a slew of enemies they never expected, even as Mara falls into a downward spiral of delusion and obsession. Will she make a devil's deal to save both their souls? With pasts like theirs, can they ever have a future?

The review: I am a strong reader, some might suggest voracious. However it is the rare gem that makes me utterly devour a tome disregarding all over stimuli. Love Lies Bleeding is such a gem. Set by its blurb as a supernatural romance it certainly does have a love element to it but that element is dysfunctional, to say the least, and what we have is the coming together of two broken people (one human – and a bloodletter – and the other vampire) and the joy is that they remain broken, that they both carry insecurities and issues with them.

Mara is the vampire of the piece. The vampire world seems fairly split between the Enlightenment, a group that holds a balance of power and eschew hunting for at hand meals from bloodletters, and Primalists, a loose confederacy of those who believe the vampire’s purpose is to hunt, an alpha predator without the need for human comforts. Along with a few others, Mara is an independent, but one who was turned by a particularly vicious Primalist named Dominic and is also being wooed by the leader of the Enlightenment, Nigel.

She hopes her association with Nigel will help keep the obsessive Dominic at bay but finds him a bore and is shocked to discover that Nigel has decided to take her as a consort. Mara is also dying, her emotions fading and turning to apathy but all that changes when Mara is given Lee (short for Liam), a bloodletter who refuses to conform and whose normal hatred for the vampires fails him in the presence of Maya.

The vampirism is interesting in this. Mara suggests it is a virus, though her theory might be flawed, she also suggests that vampires can (in very rare occasions) become ill with more mortal ailments. They can only subsist on human blood (food tastes awful, animal blood fails to satisfy). Direct sunlight hurts them but they can be abroad in daylight and garlic works against them.

What struck me in this was the writing, which was crisp, and strong. Even the more idiosyncratic dialogue seemed natural for the characters as they were drawn. Indeed, whilst the story was ok, strong enough and refreshingly small scale, it was the characters that really made this. Their flaws were beautifully drawn for the reader, their actions logical given the damage and their inherent dysfunctions. Altogether stimulating in a genre where too many authors concentrate on wish fulfilment. 9 out of 10.

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