REVIEW: Blood Ties Book One: The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout
Dear Ms. Armintrout:
When I finished with this book, I thought that there were some people who were not going to be happy if they bought this book thinking it was a romance (shelved in the romance section, published by Harlequin). But then I looked at the cover and thought, the buyers of this book have to be aware that this is something different.
And it is. It is scary, gory, horrifying, sad, and maybe a bit redemptive. I can’t say I’ll ever read it again. But I could not put it down and I am marking my calendar for February 2007 because I can’t wait to read the next one in your series.
The story opens with Dr. Carrie Ames, a young resident, visiting the morgue. In the morgue she searches for John Doe, a patient which she was unable to treat because the condition in which he presented was too gory for her. She goes to face her fear and when she does, she is attacked by him. Blood from John Doe gets into her system and she turns. Carrie is a wonderful narrator and you do a great job of showing us things and not telling us. She has a strong sense of self preservation and recognizes both that she wants to live and that there are some things worse than death.
In looking for help to cope with her vampirism, she meets Nathan Grant and his foster son, Ziggy. Nathan is a vampire who works for the Movement. The Movement is an organization that is dedicated to the wiping out of vampires. Nathan gets a kill order for John Doe aka Cyrus. Cyrus is an old and mean vampire who keeps making new vampires for a couple of different reasons, the main one being that he wants a companion.
Cyrus is Carrie’s sire and the blood tie is a strong one. It causes both of them to have strong feelings for one another. Carrie is inextricably drawn to Cyrus and the blood tie binds her to him, even as he physically and emotionally abuses her. The scenes which feature Carrie in Cyrus’ care are painful to read because the blood tie convinces Carrie that she wants Cyrus and his attention and his abuse. It was like watching a battered woman in a terrible relationship and wishing that person would wake up to the realization that something is very wrong.
I can’t emphasize enough that this book is not a romance. It has an underthread of romance between Nathan and Carrie and their relationship juxtaposed against that of Carrie and Cyrus’ further illuminates how horribly used Carrie was by Cyrus. But Nathan has his own terrible demons to overcome before any fulfilling relationship can begin between Carrie and him.
There were definite inconsistencies in the world building that I really can’t go into without spoiling some of the storylines. These inconsistencies seemed to be forced into the book in order for you to have the outcome you desired. However, I really appreciated the fact that your vampires acted like vampires. They weren’t the sissified do gooders of other series. They are beasts that act primal. When Nathan breaks down because of what he is, it is completely believable because of you have so well protrayed the horror that it is to be a vampire.
From a writing standpoint, your book has a couple of themes that were replayed in each person’s life during the story with different endings to those themes. I thought that was quite effective, if ham fisted at times. Overall, this was a great vampire/horror book that lovers of Laurell K Hamilton will not want to miss. B+ for the book. If you want to send me the arc for the next one, I am not turning it down!
P.S. I saw an excerpt at your website from a review done by Romantic Times Book Club that said this book had a “eternal romantic triangle.” What was that reviewer smoking? This book has no eternal romantic triangle. Did we even read the same book? Because I am not sure how a relationship that features a person who likes someone but is physically and emotionally abused by someone else can really be termed a “romantic triangle.”