Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Raven's Blood, by Cassandra Lawson

Raven's Blood
(Moon Virus #1)
Cassandra Lawson
Trade Paperback, 300 pages
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
March 25, 2014
Dystopian Fiction, Mythology, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction
Source: Received from author

Book Synopsis: Following the death of her wood nymph mother at the hands of vampires, Raven worked hard to build a life for herself in one of the few remaining human settlements. Her life takes a frightening turn when she finds herself an unwilling guest in a vampire settlement, but things are not anything like she expected them to be. Still, she cannot help but feel that her attraction to the vampire leader is a betrayal to her mother’s memory and her human friends.

From the moment Connor first laid eyes on Raven she has thrown his entire world off-balance. In order to prove his strength as a leader, he has no choice but to take her up on her offer to trade her freedom for that of her human friends. Having begun his life as a slave, he has no interest in keeping the wood nymph captive. As a man, he has no desire to feel this overwhelming attraction to a woman who hates him and his kind.

As Raven spends more time with the vampires, her feelings for Connor grow even stronger and Connor finds that she may be the one thing he cannot live without. Unfortunately, a new danger emerges that could threaten the survival of vampires and humans alike. As Connor struggles to unravel the mystery of the attacks from a new species of vampire, a madman will go to any lengths to get Raven’s blood.

No cliffhangers. Can be read as a standalone novel.

My Review 

(Reviewer's Note: I received a printed copy of this novel from the author, in exchange for an honest review.)

I was really intrigued when I first heard of this novel, since the paranormal couple in it consists of a vampire and a wood nymph. I've been reading vampire romances for a long time now, and had never heard of such an unusual pairing before. So my curiosity was high as I began to read the book.

The mythology involved certainly does not disappoint! It's very obvious that Lawson has done her research well, and knows her wood nymph legends. She's also created a very unique way for the nymphs to manifest in the United States, since these legends originated in Europe. Raven the wood nymph is thus a very believable character, with an interesting background that explains her allegiance to humans, instead of her own kind.

The pairing of Connor, a somewhat jaded vampire, with Raven, the idealistic wood nymph fighting on the side of the humans, is a truly inspired one. She is, of course, a free spirit, although she's admired as a leader among her human friends. Connor is much more of a driven person; he takes his duties as leader very seriously, and is definitely addicted to rules and discipline. Both of these main characters are utterly likable, even though, at first, Connor comes off as rather arrogant and very much an alpha male. He is also absolutely gorgeous. Raven, who has a very strong dislike of vampires due to a childhood trauma, is no meek, cringing creature; she totally stands up for herself, refusing to be cowed. At the same time, however, she can't help but feel attracted to Connor, as he is toward her, since he finds her very beautiful. 

Their love story starts off as lust-driven, which is understandable, given the nature of wood nymphs. However, it's obvious that there's more than lust under the surface, although I do wish the sex scenes had been more romantic. Still, these two had a lot of chemistry going!   

I found Connor's care and concern for Raven very touching indeed, and she, too, was very sweet to him. I  especially liked the fact that his male chauvinistic attitude toward her completely disappeared as their relationship evolved into one of love and trust. In fact, they were wonderful together!

The origin of the vampires is also a very unusual and creative element of this novel, one that makes it a refreshing addition to the vampire mythos. These vampires are, in fact, a madman's accidental creation, the product of a supposedly lethal virus intended to wipe out huge sections of the American population. Instead, it has turned them into vampires.

Another unusual aspect of the book  is that, initially, the vampires are victims of the humans, instead of the other way around.

The setting is a future  roughly a hundred years ahead of the present time, with a society that has disintegrated into isolated settlements of vampires and humans. For the most part, they hate and distrust each other. It's a very bleak world, one in which both groups engage in a constant struggle for survival.

Aside from the two main characters, there are several very memorable minor ones, such as the vampire Jack and his human wife, Muriel. Simon and Ian, two vampires who are members of Connor's group, are also memorable, becoming even more so as the plot moves along. I also liked Norah, Connor's best  friend and ex-lover, who ends up becoming a fierce fighter.

With all of these interesting, unique elements, the book was bound to be a great read! However, I was unfortunately put off to some extent by  the constant use of profanity, especially "the F bomb". This is something that really bothers me about novels written for the adult  market. 

In spite of the above objections, I really enjoyed reading this novel, and admire Lawson's creative world-building, as well as her very likable, well-rounded characters, pacing of the story, and ability to create a unified novel that smoothly mixes genres without missing a beat.

Readers of speculative fiction will definitely love this story of a futuristic, dystopian/paranormal world with a dash of mythology. Kudos to Cassandra Lawson for creating such a richly-imagined world!

MY RATING:           

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