Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney
Blood Oranges was one of my latest reads that I’m catching up on reviews for. I loved this book and must start with all due credit – thank you to Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn for putting me on to this book. Really, I loved it!!
I will just add a proviso to my gushing (not for myself obviously, as I know how I feel about it already, but for you) – this book should probably come with a warning – this is the grimdark of the urban fantasy world (not to mention a little grimysnark!)
So, the story is told by Siobhan Quinn. She’s basically an unreliable ex junkie turned vampwere – okay, slow down – at the start of the story Siobhan is a kick ass hunter on a stakeout to catch a werewolf who has been having a few midnight people popsicles in her territory. Unfortunately, due to miscalculations Siobhan finds herself being attacked by the were and saved by a vampire (the notion)! Or – in other words, she’s no slayer although she has been taken on as a sort of wannabee and has a bag of tricks to prove it, and, on above mentioned stake out, and due to her inabilities with said bag of tricks (not to mention probably being a little high at the time) she gets herself bitten by a werewolf and a vengeful vampire all in the same night. (This is what I mean about an unreliable narrator!) Anyway, she now has a serious case of dog breath and bloodlust. On the plus side, she no longer craves drugs – on the downside, not only has she gathered a seriously erroneous reputation as the next super slayer, not to mention an object of both wonder and disgust simultaneously in the supernatural world, she’s moved to the top of a few people’s most wanted lists and has developed some serious hunger issues involving lots of blood and also a few guts and other unmentionables.
The plot- it’s your basic circle of revenge type affair. Siobhan killed a baddie so now she needs to pay the price. However, said price is more hellish than simply being killed in return. She’s become the freak pet of a strong and incredibly old vampire – a very creepy doll like with child like voice vampire. She must feed every two days (not to mention cover up her actions) and she has definite mood swings depending on where the moon sits in the sky on any given night. You could say she has a motive for revenge herself – hence the ‘circle’ comment.
Why I liked this. It’s definitely grim dark and a bit brutal. The writing is choppy and jumps about with breaks and back tracking and the narrator should definitely not be likable – and there’s the rub. I liked her. She’s had a rather sorry existence so far but she doesn’t winge about it just gets on with things. Even after her pitiful state goes from bad to worse there is no moping about! She isn’t a superhero – she can’t pull a graceful backflip whilst wrestling with a beastie and she’s definitely not a romantic! She’s a no-nonsense, get on with life and deal with it daily type of girl who has been frankly living by the seat of her pants and is pretty lucky not to be six feet under. Also, so far – there appears to be no bonus to being turned into the undead. She hasn’t become inexplicably gorgeous, a lot of the myths are just that, and she’ll probably live for a good few years but will be rotting away during that period. So, nice.
I find that this is urban fantasy as I like it, warts and all. it is gritty and dark and maybe, for some unpalatable. In a world of fantasy it just feels like it’s a little more real – in the smaller, day to day ways. There’s dirt under the fingernails and sweat and mud. It’s the difference between an old fashioned western and a spaghetti western! The characters are not clean cut, neat and tidy. They’re not all about appearances and they’re not always nice. It’s like the first time you watched a horror movie that broke with tradition – and the baddies won! It just puts everything on it’s head and means you can’t just anticipate that ‘all will be well in the end’.
Literally with Blood Oranges I never knew what to expect. Siobhan is an interesting character not to mention pretty funny to read about at times. She’s not girly or bothered about the latest lip gloss but this doesn’t mean that she’s all warrior chick. She’s just fairly regular really. A regular girl in a fantasy universe – one populated by all sorts of critters ranging from talking seagulls to bridge trolls – tell me you don’t like the sound of that!
Very entertaining and for me fairly unique feeling. In case you haven’t guessed – I really enjoyed this and if you’re looking for a new UF which is frankly a little tongue in cheek with a fast moving plot, a few laughs and a dose of reality mixed in then this could be for you. Highly recommended and don’t be too distracted by the ex junkie grim dark description – yes it is all of that, but, it’s, strangely, and almost against it’s or your own will, quite compelling. I urge you to give it a shot.