JOINT REVIEW: Triad Blood by Nathan Burgoine
The law of three is unbroken: three vampires form a coterie, three demons make a pack, and three wizards are a coven. That is how it has always been, and how it was always to be. But Luc, Anders, and Curtis-vampire, demon, and wizard-have cheated tradition. Their bond is not coterie, pack, or coven, but something else. Thrust into the supernatural politics ruling Ottawa from behind the shadows, they face Renard, a powerful vampire who harbors deadly secrets of his own and wishes to end their threat. The enemy they know conjures fire and death at every turn. The enemies they don’t know are worse. Blood, soul, and magic gave them freedom. Now they need to survive it.
Warning for those who donot like this – our heroes have an open relationship of sorts. I say of sorts because there is a paranormal angle to it, but two out of three heroes are not monogamous. More explanation in the review.
Dear ‘Nathan Burgoine,
Sirius: I really enjoyed your novel “Light”, but have not read any of the short stories you’ve written. I was hoping that one day you would decide to write another novel and when I saw that you had I one clicked and preordered.
Sunita: I have Burgoine’s previous novel, Light, in my TBR, but when you sent me this one as a gift, I decided to read it first. And I hadn’t done a joint review in ages, so here we are!
Sirius: For the most part I liked it very much, although I am really curious whether you forgot to resolve what I considered to be a pretty important plot point or you meant it to remain unresolved.
“A vampire, a demon, and a wizard walk into a bar,” Anders said. “If that’s a joke,” Curtis said, “please tell me the punch line is ‘and they lived happily ever after,’ okay?”
Apparently in the world of this story, in order to be allowed to live in peace in the magical scene of Ottawa, magical beings have to coexist in the groups of three. As the blurb tells you, three vampires form a coterie, three demons make a pack, and three wizards are a coven. I was a bit confused whether any number larger than three still needed to be divisible by three or not, because some coteries had more members than that, but none had less. Lone vampires, wizards or demons usually have issues in their everyday lives and seek to belong to a group. It was unclear to me whether magical beings who do not belong to these three groups also have to be in a group of three, but that was not really important to the story.
As the blurb tells you, our main characters form a different type of group than everyone else – they put three species together and the result is an extremely powerful Triad. They are still learning the effects and possibilities of their joining when the story begins, several weeks after they joined together (well, Curtis the wizard tricked them into binding because he wanted to be safe from harassment by some of his fellow wizards, and Luc and Anders were trying to pick him up).
Now, they are kind of dating and trying to establish or reestablish their position in the magical scene of Ottava. Only somebody clearly does not like them – in the very beginning of the story somebody sends them a letter which bursts into flames once Anders picks it up. Had Luc picked it up his injuries would have been much worse and he probably could have died.
The men are not sure who has a problem with them, but very soon after this Luc receives a letter which is basically an invitation to a seance – a meeting of all the leaders of Ottava coteries along with each leader’s two closest companions. Several unpleasant events happen at the seance and it becomes clear that the powerful vampire Renard has a beef with them, but the guys have no idea why. I had no idea either, but I assumed that I would learn that before the end of the book. I was wrong.
For me, the book is best categorized as a paranormal adventure with romantic elements. Our trio realizes very soon that Renard is not a good guy who has to be vanquished, and them taking a stand and making sure that this goal is met is the main storyline of the book.
Sunita: I agree with this. There are clearly romantic elements in the story, but there isn’t a strong romantic arc, and the adventure is the most important issue driving the plot. That said, the relationship among the three was satisfying to me, and I liked the way Burgoine depicted both dyadic and triadic relationships. We see Curtis, Luc, and Anders as a trio and as couples, and they seem to get along equally well in all the configurations. You can see what each person brings to each relationship and how they interact slightly differently in pairs than as a group. There’s a lot of affection and friendship among them, in addition to the sex and developing romance.
Sirius: I really enjoyed how this book was written. I thought it achieved a good balance between the adventure and the guys continuing to figure out what they want from their relationship, what they mean to each other and how it will work. And they figure out the relationship stuff during almost the constant danger their lives are in, so they do not have time to sit around and do angsty stuff. This is the type of story which, if well done, resonates with me the most. Everyone has stuff to do besides being in love and we can see that their relationship is moving forward while they are doing the other important stuff. I also liked the humor in the dialogue; the humorous moments really worked for me.
“You have a job?” Curtis said. He paused, holding the next piece of mail. Anders shrugged. “Really?” Curtis pressed. “Like a real job? For grownups? What is it?” Luc waited for the demon to answer, but Anders just shrugged again. Curtis shook his head. “Huh.” He looked at Luc. “He has a job. Did you know that?” “I didn’t,” Luc said. “I assumed he pilfered the wallets of his street trash.” Anders rolled his eyes. “You’re both fucking hilarious.” He reached out and grabbed the envelope Curtis was holding. “Occupant. I’m an occupant.””
I want to expand a little bit on my warning in the beginning. Basically Luc needs to feed and Anders needs to feed. Luc feeds on his sex partners and Anders does the same because he is an incubus, although he feeds from their souls. I did not think either of them wanted to feed on Curtis, so they periodically went out to find somebody else. Curtis knew and did not seem to mind. It did not bother me at all, but beware if you like your romance heroes to be only with each other. I was actually curious how their relationship would evolve because while Curtis says flat out that Anders cannot do monogamy, no such comment was made about Luc. Not that I had an issue with how things were between them, I was just wondering about it. These three had such interesting personalities that I definitely wanted to know more about them.
Sunita: Anders was willing to have sex any time, it seemed, and there is a scene early in the book, so there is sex that isn’t necessary to their feeding needs, right? The intimacy seemed to still be developing among the three of them.
Sirius: Since these are magical beings and Curtis is a wizard, magic is a huge part of the setup and I was curious to learn how it worked in this world. I cannot say that I learned everything I wanted to know, but I learned enough. It seemed that the author really thought through the magical rules for the story. Here is a little glimpse for you of someone who does magic differently from Curtis.
“…you impose. I ask.” “If I ask,” Curtis said, trying not to rise to the bait, “things can blow up. If don’t impose, I won’t be in control of what happens. For me, it’s inside.” He touched the center of his chest. “It’s like a living thing, and it wants out. It wants to be used. If I give it an inch, it will take every mile it can manage.” Curtis sighed. “I have to be careful every time I speak a word I don’t use very often. I know you find the way magic works distasteful, I guess, but that’s how it is.” Eli didn’t speak for a few moments. “Lend strength for meditation, to calm the mind, or to ease pain, I think.” Curtis blinked. “Pardon?” “The spirits here. That’s what I could ask of them.” He looked at Curtis. “But they could refuse. If I wasn’t truly looking for something they wanted to associate with, they could just refuse to answer.””
Sunita: I really liked Eli, both in terms of his character and the way that he challenged the status quo, wizard way of doing magic. Eli is First Nations, I think? But he’s not just there to add diversity, he provides a window into the larger world beyond the three types of beings we see in the main trio. I would love to see a novel set in his world.
Sirius: I would recommend this book without hesitation if you enjoy a paranormal magical adventure with a gay romantic storyline and some low key social commentary.
Sunita: I really enjoyed it and recommend it as well. The writing is good and I like Burgoine’s voice a lot. And while I don’t read a lot of paranormals, the world-building was interesting and the bringing together of the three types was fun.
Sirius: I have to note one annoyance that I mentioned in the beginning,
I still have no idea why the bad guy was targeting them in the first place. In the foreword the author mentions that he wrote short stories featuring these characters in various anthologies, so maybe the answer was there, but I do not think that I should have to read short stories elsewhere in order to understand what is happening in the novel. I also realize that the answer could be just because they were powerful they were a threat to him, but I definitely thought that this was too simple.
Sunita: I don’t think we ever got a clear reason from the bad guy. I assumed that he was the type of person who would see any strong person as a threat, and since all three of our MCs had heightened powers through their joining, they were a greater threat than single-type trios would be, so he wanted to take them out pre-emptively. But that’s just a guess. The villain was the most underwritten of the characters (and the least interesting, to be honest). Grade: B/B+