Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney (Caitlin Kiernan)

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):  My name’s Quinn. 

If you buy into my reputation, I’m the most notorious demon hunter in New England. But rumors of my badassery have been slightly exaggerated. Instead of having kung-fu skills and a closet full of medieval weapons, I’m an ex-junkie with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or…whatever. 

Wanted for crimes against inhumanity I (mostly) didn’t commit, I was nearly a midnight snack for a werewolf until I was “saved” by a vampire calling itself the Bride of Quiet. Already cursed by a werewolf bite, the vamp took a pint out of me too. 

So now…now, well, you wouldn’t think it could get worse, but you’d be dead wrong.(

And here's what I thought:  There's a quote on the back of this book from Neil Gaiman, that says:  "Deeply, wonderfully, magnificently nasty."   I definitely agree.

This book is funny, and raw, and the main character is full of flaws ... and I completely enjoyed it.  As you can see from the summary, Quinn is an ex-junkie who wound up being not only bitten by a werewolf, but then turned into a vampire.  Double-cursed, she winds up discovering that she's now enmeshed in a power struggle, and it's hard to tell who to trust and who's telling the truth.   And speaking of telling the truth, Quinn is an unreliable narrator; sometimes, she goes back and tells you that what you just read isn't the truth, but here's what really happened.  So, you spend a lot of the book not knowing if she's giving you the whole story, or taking you for a ride.   I found her to be refreshing, actually.  Lately, it seems that a lot of the fiction I've been reading where the main character is female has her be: nice, pretty, smart .....   and frankly, I wanted a change.   Let me put it this way: if you know Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and you like Faith way more than Buffy, you'll probably like this book.   Personally, Buffy got on my nerves a lot, and I always thought Faith was more fun.

The author does work in some familiar details from other lore, like vampires and such, but she makes them very realistic.   For example, on p 39, when Quinn kills a vampire, "Oh, and she didn't go poof like in some of the movies, and she didn't burst into flames, and she didn't dissolve into a green puddle of goo.  She just looked surprised, then died.  Well, died again, or died the rest of the way.  Whatever."    There's a matter-of-fact sensibility that runs through this book.

Which leads me to mention something I don't usually bother mentioning: language.   As I've said, Quinn isn't a nice girl, and that means that she doesn't always speak like a cultured lady.  That is, there's some foul language sprinkled throughout this book.   While that doesn't bother me, and in fact, makes me feel like the character is very realistic in the world that the author has created, I know language can be an issue for other readers.   So, if strong language (a/k/a use of the F-word) bothers you enough that you don't enjoy books that contain it, I'd recommend maybe taking a pass on this one.  

I've enjoyed other books by Caitlin R. Kiernan, and it's interesting to see her take a different turn with this book, writing as Kathleen Tierney.  

First lines:  First off, taking out monsters absolutely doesn't come with a how-to manual.  F____ that s___ you see on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.     And yes, I think we all know what words fit in those blanks --- while I don't have any issue with those words being in a book, or even using those words, or that expression, I know some readers would rather not encounter them.


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