Reviewed by Rod McLary
Blood runs freely in this novel by J R Ward – blood in all its manifestations: lineage, killings and, most apposite for this book, feeding on blood by the Vampires.
Blood Fury is set in a world [perhaps this one] where Vampires co-exist with humans but are threatened by the Lessening Society which is determined to kill all Vampires. The Lessening Society is an order of Slayers convened for the purpose of eradicating the world of Vampires. To protect the Vampires, there exists the Black Dagger Brotherhood which comprises highly trained vampire warriors who seek out and kill the lessers – as the members of the Lessening Society are known.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is the subject of a very successful series of 16 books. There is now a spin-off series [Blood Dagger Legacy] of three books [so far] which focuses on the young trainees for the Brotherhood.
The novel seems to be set in the 21st century as there are references to iPhones, Instagram and some current popular songs. As well, the dialogue between the characters is almost incomprehensible as shown in these brief extracts.
Nah, it’s okay. Just next time, tell me to back off first before you strong-arm me, and then if I don’t listen, go MMA on my ass.
Now, I’ll spare you the be-a-good-little-girl speech, because I don’t want to get castrated – but do me a favour and don’t screw up all my nice knit-one-purl-two and stay where you are, ‘kay.
The author has attempted to create a language for this alternate world and there are a number of made-up words which are scattered through the book. Unfortunately, they add nothing to the story and do not seem to be used consistently. As well, the dialogue swings between the type described above and a more formal language – again without much consistency.
Blood Fury has been described as an erotic paranormal romance – and is essentially a romance describing the development of two Vampire relationships. The first is between Peyton, an aristocratic Vampire whose parents demand that he marries someone of equal status, and Novo who is from the wrong side of the tracks and has a secret past. The second is between Saxton – the solicitor to the King of the Vampires – and Ruhn who – like Novo – is from a working-class background and has a secret past. Both Saxton and Ruhn are male and, even in the world of Vampires, they are concerned about the reactions of those around them should their relationship become public.
Unlike mythical vampires who have been described as ‘bloated, with ruddy complexions and blood seeping from their eyes’, these 21st century Vampires are incredibly good-looking, sexually attractive and very sexually active. Apparently, male Vampires are very potent and a fair proportion of the novel is concerned with Peyton struggling to keep himself under control and not always successfully.
But for all the references to Vampires and their erotic adventures, the romances are straight out of Jane Austen. There are misunderstandings, second thoughts, interfering parents, and ex-partners – all of which hinder and confuse the course of love. It would be a spoiler to even hint at the outcome of the romances so that will be left to the reader to discover for her/himself.
Outside the romances though, there is much to occupy the Vampires and the reader. Not only do Vampires need to be constantly on the lookout for the lessers who have no other purpose but to kill Vampires, they are often called on to assist humans in their legal struggles. It seems that, in this world at least, humans are poor creatures who lack the skills and knowledge of the Vampires. With the lessers on one hand and the legal battles of the humans on the other, there is plenty of opportunity for fighting. Consistent with the title of the novel, much blood-letting occurs.
In these days of the #metoo campaign, there is a refreshing theme through this book. There are frequent expressions and actions of genuine sensitivity and caring between the couples. Peyton says to Novo at one point –
I’ll be slow, okay? I’ll be … gentle. And if it’s not right, I’ll stop, no matter how far things have gone.
Later in the story, when Novo’s secret is revealed and she is expecting Peyton’s rejection, he responds with true understanding of what the disclosure means to her as a woman and her concern about his response.
Clearly, this book and the others in the series will not be read for their literary merit or for a fresh insight into the life struggles facing all of us. Instead, Blood Fury offers pure entertainment with a frisson of sexual excitement. It is aimed at teenagers and young adults and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. For the older readers – of which this reviewer is one – the book provided a few hours of enjoyable diversion.
JR Ward is one of the leading writers in this genre and has written a significant number of books – most in the Black Dagger Brotherhood and this new series along with a number of others.
by J R Ward
ISBN 978 0 349 40933 7
411 pp; $32.99