Author: Raven Corinn Carluk
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Genre: Paranormal romance
Release Date: February 22, 2010
How Received: Author
Summary: Mourning her mother on Halloween, Keila O’Broin, a psychic warrior and last of her line, isn’t prepared for dead teenagers to ask her to avenge them. Compelled by her family creed, Keila combats the vampiric serial killer, despite her atrophied powers. But defeating one killer is only the start of her adventure. Into her life walks Varick Eitenhauer, centries old undead master of Portland. The vampire tells her she will now help him defeat his rivals in a battle to control the city, and he will accept no refusals. Surrounded by her desire and danger, the only way to succeed is to rise from her past like a phoenix from its ashes.
A word of forewarning: this novel contains explicit sexual content.
All Hallows Blood surprised me, in a good way. I didn’t anticipate the novel would delve into deeper issues, such as the meaning of family, death, loss, and loneliness, but it did. In fact, this was the fore-front premise of the novel, as Keila struggles through most of these issues from the very first page. She’s lost her family, she’s pretty much alone in the world, and she’s alleviating that with alcohol (and later, from pure strength). There is a lot of internal dialogue and character development going on in throughout the books, which was enjoyable. I have to admit that Keila annoyed me a bit at first, but I loved the person she grew (back?) into. It was easy to empathize with her, losing a parent of my own a little ways back, so her depression was very relatable.
Varick was definitely my favorite part of the novel: mysterious, shielded, hunky, and hungry. I wanted to know more about him, the Portland territory he claimed, how he became a vampire, ec. He was dominant, yet gentlemanly; protective, yet possessive; he knew how to cook and do groceries and braid hair and heal. He’s like every girls dream come true.
And the battle scenes... Boy, were those awesome! Keila kicked some serious vampire butt in this novel (I think she killed a total of four? But she’s human – that’s impressive!). Keila almost always got hurt in the process, but she made speedy recoveries and was eager to get out and kick some more vamp butt.
Despite all that, there were a few things that I didn’t like about All Hallows Blood. The first is that nothing is really explained. We’re thrust into the story without any classification of story we’re in. I’m not entirely sure what a psionicist is (at least in Raven’s story), even after having read the book. I can understand a few abilities Keila has, but what a psioncist is and their essential abilities aren’t explained. The same goes with the vampires – I just wasn’t sure what limitations they had. I learned a few things via guessing, such as her vampires can’t go out during the daylight and they when they feed on humans, endorphins are released into the humans body, and that older vampires had more power. But we weren’t really given a “list” (so-to-speak) of strengths and weaknesses vampires have. Keila doesn’t even question Varick on the entitlements of a vampire; it was as if she inherently knew.
I also didn’t like the over-use of nouns to describe Keila’s friends. It was always, “The Vampire did so-and-so,” or “The German did so-and-so,” or “The New Zealander did so-and-so”. Once, twice, or three times would have been okay, but it was like this on almost every page. There were only a handful of pronouns as opposed to the excessive use of nouns.
And lastly, the romance. I suppose I’m only mentioning this because I didn’t know what this book would be about when I first read it. I anticipated some romance, but not on the level that was given to us. The first half of the book is pretty much just high sexual tension (I didn’t realize this until later), and Keila swooning over Varick. The romance took the spotlight away from the original plot, and I felt at times that Varick’s “mission” was a second-thought and very downplayed. It would have been enjoyable if the two were interwoven seamlessly, but the romance definitely took a front seat, even in the battle scenes.
Cover Musings: I’m not a fan. The model that’s representing Keila pretty much looks bored. There were so many other poses that could have been utilized – a romantic pose with Varick, a pose that showed her battle lust, etc. But nope, she’s leaning on her palm and it looks as if she’s in class listening to a boring professor lecturing. Varick, on the other hand, looks exquisitely yummy! If the cover just had him and not the girl model, it’d be great, haha. And I like the “blood”/red-tint on the letters.
Vengeance was one of the forces that would keep spirits on this plane. Since it was hard to want revenge against a disease, these four must have been murdered.
He was basically keeping me hostage, but he was letting me borrow his clothes and use his hygiene products. Since when were jailers so nice to their prisoners?
Plus, there was the simple pleasure of having another body in bed with me, not just over-sized stuffed animals. I'd never realized how much better it was sharing a bed. Maybe I'd get a cat after all this. A big cat.
I was letting an enraged teenage ghost chase two homicidal vampires through the wee hours, and that seemed like relief to me.
Eventually she tapered off, and chuckled weakly. "Just think, I had to die to know my dad loved me."
Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: I thought the premise of the story was great, but the romance took a lot of spotlight away from the original plot. Keila’s an awesome character and goes through several stages of character development. There were really awesome action scenes that can appeal to anyone looking for a strong female lead kicking some serious butt. There were only a few grievances I had, such as lack of detail and barely any pronoun usage. But overall, it was a great story and I’m eager to see if there’s a sequel!
Again, for younger readers and people who screen their books, this book is sexually explicit. Just a word of forewarning.
*This book was provided for review from the author (thank you Raven!) in exchange of an honest review.