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REVIEW: The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

Sweet Scent of BloodDear Ms.   McLeod,

While I am   often skeptical when going into escapist genres like fantasy and science fiction, but the one that I always come back to and am comfortable with completely  is the paranormal genre.   Vampires are becoming played out and it’s hard to find a fresh face on them, but the blurb by Charlaine Harris, whom I really enjoy reading, along with the interesting urban fantasy/mystery premise really made it sound good enough to try.   I was mostly pleased with what I got out of reading it.

Genny Taylor is living in an alternate London, where fantasy creatures of all types exist, and have recently begun integrating into society within the last hundred or so years.   Fairies, goblins, and vampires – along with many other mythical creatures – are just beginning to be accepted into society, especially within hot tourist spots such as London.   Genny’s a sidhe, or fairy of ‘royal’ lineage, which means she isn’t the most common thing, even by magic’s standards, to grace London’s streets.   She carves out her living by working for, an organization run by witches that deals with the ‘cracking’, or destroying, of spells for customers.

When a famous vampire – known for being a part of a prolific vampire calendar showcasing hot vamps – is accused of murdering his love, Melissa, and sucking her dry, things get complicated.   The vampire’s human father comes to visit Genny with a request to view Melissa’s body.   Witches and vampires aren’t on the best of terms, and taking the job could mean disaster for her job at Spellcrackers.   Things don’t exactly work out, and before Genny knows it, she’s shoved into a vamp power-play that could leave her changed forever.

The best thing you do as an author in this novel is within the character creation.   Genny is the epitome of my ultimate, kick-butt urban fantasy protagonist.   Her thoughts are swirls of snark and wit, and I loved her brand of intelligence.   A big problem with these novels is a protagonist that’s billed as smart but never really shows it, and Genny avoids this in every way possible.   I also loved her relationships with the other characters.   Finn is probably my favorite male of the bunch – a satyr with a fun personality and a really enjoyable White-Knight complex that manages to blow up in his face.   Other characters included Hugh, a rock troll that has a brotherly affection towards Genny, and Toni, a secretary at Spellcrackers and a character that amuses and surprises at many turns.

Your plotting, however, left me disappointed in some areas.   While I was enraptured for a good part of the novel, the mystery part of it never took off the way I thought it would.   While Genny herself admits repeatedly to not be a detective, you pulled me in with a mystery, and a lot of what was going on  had  seemingly no relation  to the mystery part of the  plot.   As an advertised part of the story, I expected a clearer mystery and one that seemed  more focused.   The intrigue with the many back stories and hidden agendas were interesting despite the lack of focus on said mystery, though I would take care to not put in too much unneeded information, as the fuzziness of the focus made the purpose of the backstories less clear.   I liked the idea that not everything Genny gets is going to help – because convenience is not realistic, and the good hallmarks of an urban fantasy involve it’s possible realism – but there can be too much of a good thing.

World building and writing style  are your biggest strengths here.   You have a good grip on similes and metaphors, and your word-choice offers  a  nice compliment to the modern fantasy setting.    Managing to make faeries and other mythical creatures seem so  modernized is a  task you’ve  accomplished well.   Not only do you write characters with finesse, but your world building is impeccable.   Every detail in this book reflects that, with the talk of the other races, their history and habits, and their placement in modern society.   Vampires run bars.   Brownies are nannies.   It sounds simple enough, but you manage to include subtle tidbits of information about each race and the relationships between the different species and magical creatures that run through London’s streets.   The only thing I did not appreciate was the Brownie’s accents.   Accents are hit-or-miss for me, and it had so many shortenings of words that it didn’t read in a flowing manner.   What made this world-building such a strength, though, was your ability to interest the reader in it.   Sometimes I could care less about a world and want the author to shut up about it.   If I can get interested, though, I want to stay in it far longer than the book allows me.   The only other thing that really deterred me was that it had some editing errors in multiple parts that could have been fixed, considering that this book came out in the UK a year or two before.

The Sweet Scent of Blood is a great addition to the urban fantasy/paranormal market, and I’m happy to see such a fresh take on the genre that’s written so well.   I loved the characters and the detailed world building, but the plot was muddled in places and the editing really did not do it for me.   The good outweighs the bad, though, and I’m very interested in continuing to adventure with Genny and the Spellcrackers series.   B-

All the best,

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony | Kobo |

This is a trade paperback published by NAL but pre-Agency pricing.

Ever since a good friend brought him a copy of Johanna Lindsey's Gentle Rogue, he has been hooked on the romance genre. Though he primarily reads in young-adult, he loves to spend time with paranormal, historical, and contemporary adult titles in-between books. Now, he finds himself juggling book reviews, school band, writing, and finding time to add to his TBR pile.


  1. Michelle
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 13:43:21

    Great review, sounds interesting, will add this title to my list.

    Have you read Tanya Huff’s Blood series? It is a paranormal dealing with an ex detective, and vampires in Canada. It was made into a tv series-but didn’t last long. She also has the Summoning series-Summon the Keeper is I believe the first, where guardians protect/guard the portals to hell. Excellent series-kind of a quirky sense of humor. There are romance subplots.

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  3. Aoife
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 14:59:50

    I read this while plane-hopping at the end of April, so some of the details are a bit fuzzy, but while I liked some aspects of The Sweet Scent of Blood, overall I didn’t love the book. I’m very, very, etc. tired of the love triangle. In fact, at this point, a book has to be really amazing for me to continue a series that features one, and it’s fairly clear to me that that’s where Genny is headed. Also–and this could be because of when and how I read it–I thought some of the world-building was on the confusing side.

  4. Ammarylis
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 15:28:05

    Great review, John! DA sent me an ARC of this book last year for a giveaway & I loved it alot more than I thought I would. Alas, only the first book is published in the USA IIRC, while they’re already on the third book in the UK. I’m going to see if I can get them from PBS.

  5. John
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 16:51:11

    @Michelle: No, the only thing I’ve read of Tanya Huff’s is her free ebook from Harlequin, and that did *not* sit well with me for various reasons. I barely got past chapter 5. But I’ve heard good things about her other work, so I may check her out once more.
    @Aoife: The love triangle wasn’t all that bad. I enjoyed Finn enough that I’d root for him. The only love triangle I hate is when the two guys are equally bad or good, and it really doesn’t matter which one gets chosen.

  6. The Nerd
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 00:03:12

    If at all I have to read something in the Urban Fantasy genre, I would rather prefer the riveting story of Bree Tanner, grippingly told by Stephenie Meyer in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella combines romance, mystery and danger extremely well. Was lucky to get the book at huge discount, don't know if others are also equally lucky or not.

  7. Joanna
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 14:21:07

    I strongly second the recommendation of Tanya Huff’s Summoning series – I enjoyed all of these very much.

    What was the Harlequin ebook you mention, when I searched their site nothing came up under the author’s name?

  8. John
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 15:27:50

    @Joanna: It was a part of their 60 year anniversary deal with ebooks. Google it, you’ll find the site. The book in question is Kiss Me Deadly. It’s a part of the Silhouette Nocturne line.

  9. Michelle
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 16:04:41

    Hmm, I don’t think it is the same person, the author I found was Michele Hauf. Really Summon the Keeper is awesome, especially because of the cats.

  10. John
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 16:23:03

    Oops! I must have confused her…oh dear. My brain is NOT as fresh as it should be. Different author. No wonder I was second guessing myself. I’ll definitely check out Michelle Hauf’s stuff. ^^ I think I despised that book so much I forgot the author name and just assumed the vampire subject matter of some of Huff books … yeah. Thanks for pointing out MY confusion. :)

  11. John
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 16:24:29

    @Michelle: Cats, you say? Hm…I am intrigued. Another layer to the tbr.

  12. Michelle
    Jun 02, 2010 @ 18:08:39

    Here’s the blurb from amazon:
    Claire Hansen, the Keeper, is summoned to the Elysian Fields Guest House to reseal a hole in the basement, which is literally an opening to Hell. The owner and monitor of the site disappears, leaving Claire stuck managing the place until the problem is solved. Her new employee, Dean McIssac, is a gorgeous Newfie who cooks, cleans, and lives the Boy Scout oath. Then there’s Jacques Labaet: very French Canadian, very sexy, very dead. Jacques is a ghost who wants to be the man in Claire’s life. Oh yeah, and there’s Austin, a talking cat with attitude: “I barely know you, but I’m assuming you’re human. I’m not saying this is a good thing, it’s just the way it is.”

    I love smug talking cats.

  13. Joanna
    Jun 03, 2010 @ 14:13:13

    Oh Yeah, I loved Austin, if you love smug talking cats you’ll definitely enjoy the series by Tanya Huff (not Michele Hauf, I don’t think I’ve read anything by her). The Summoning books have an interesting take on magic and magical powers in a modern setting – they are also set in Canada, like her Blood series. There is some romance, but they are primarily fantasy, so are usually shelved in the SF/F section.

  14. Suzanne McLeod
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 15:55:46

    Many thanks for the review, John, and I’m delighted you enjoyed the read.

    My apologies for the edit problems.

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