Blood Cross by Faith Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is how I like my urban fantasy – heavy on the action and UF with a little light romance on the side. The main character of Jane annoyed the crap out of me for most of the book. She’s too snarky with few consequences for all her nosey, unrelenting ways and the timeline is wonky. Often Jane rushes into situations without thinking her plan through and usually makes it through unscathed. I appreciate that occasionally she gets her butt kicked, which she always deserves and then some. Thankfully the story has a lot of good urban fantasy elements – I especially like the vampire mythology – and a solid enough plot to keep me listening during the moments I wish Jane would die. She’s a better than average heroine, if pretty cookie cutter in a lot of ways.
In Blood Cross, Jane Yellowrock is still in New Orleans at the behest of the vampire council. They want her to hunt down the vampire who is making young rogues and letting them loose on the human population. What Jane finds is a disturbing connection to local witches. Since witches and vampires are mortal enemies their sudden association is confusing and alarming. Forced to dig deep into vampire history, Jane needs the help of local ex-military and her best friend, who happens to be a witch, to solve this confusing puzzle before those close to her get killed. Add in a sexy cop and a charming blood servant vying for Jane’s time and affection and the skinwalker has her hands full.
To start with the plot this time is pretty good. There’s a decent mystery involving vampires and witches and how they coincided worked pretty well. The information is slow in coming and happens over the course of the entire book, bit by bit. This involved less action and more paperwork/research but I didn’t mind since Jane is constantly doing something – often all at the same time. I liked the background on the vampire culture and how each of the clans played a part in the politics of the city. This is a strength of the story and I hope continues in the series since Jane’s position as an outsider/observer works really well with this kind of world building. Additionally the resolution to the problem worked for me because it was just difficult enough without going too far.
The various characters in the book are well written. Each has a weight so they feel real in the scenes as opposed to disposable. Some are obviously better written than others but overall I was satisfied and more so, invested, in a good number of the secondary cast. That leads to the main character of Jane. I’m of two minds. I like Jane as a bad ass, motorcycle riding cat-shifter supernatural. She’s pretty indestructible but then again if I had a mountain lion beast as a second soul, I’d like to think I’d be nearly a tank too. Her attitude frustrates me the most about her because she does and says things that are stupid – self acknowledged ridiculously stupid too – yet rarely suffers consequences for them. Occasionally she gets her butt kicked, but since she’s always healed almost immediately it’s not really satisfying. She deserves a lot more shit than she gets with her attitude and rude behavior. However I can handle her since she’s mostly a decent, hard working character and I like her explorations into her Native American heritage and past.
The thing that bothers me most about the book, aside from Jane herself, is the wonky timeline. I know it shouldn’t be a big deal but I can’t help noticing and getting annoyed at it. It never really makes sense to me. For example Jane will be at the vamp HQ waiting to see someone at 2 am, spend considerable time waiting then chatting, head home to sleep but then be up at 5 am racing across town to do a shamanisitic ritual for several hours then head back home to have a mid morning snack with her best friend and kids then cook for hours before heading to the cop shop at noon to again chat and research for a few hours then head home again to meet up with love interest #2 and hang out for lunch and the rest of the afternoon before dinner, getting fitted for a couture dress, make out with love interest #1, and head to a vampire ball only to do it all over again the next day. I mean seriously there are not enough hours in the day for all the activities this chick does in the book let alone at the arbitrary times the book throws out. It simply does not fit. This happens over and over in the book with many details, such as when Rick moves with preternatural speed but it’s been a while since he was injured so why would he still have the effects of vampire blood in his system? And that detail wasn’t even necessary as his movement didn’t need to be that fast. Or when Jane’s carotid artery is spewing blood everywhere and she’s interrogating George as he carries her. Because I’d always want answers when bleeding to death in a pack of hungry vampires; no better time. It’s little things like this that constant pull me from enjoying the book.
Beyond this the narration is very enjoyable. I listen to the audiobook version and I like the woman’s voice. It’s easy to listen to and she does a decent job on the accents. I can at least tell most of the characters apart and there are only a few times when the voice fails to change to denote a new speaker. While the ending dragged out, Jane waits forever to actually go after the vamps in question even when she knows who they are, I liked the lore and plot. The story was engaging and easy to listen to. I like the series and will continue with it, even recommend it for UF fans, it’s pretty cookie cutter. The skinwalker aspect is nice but not especially ground breaking and Jane is a classic female lead down to the bone, which is both good and bad. The story is however very light on romance. There is a weak love triangle but it’s barely there and talked about more than anything. It’ll be interesting to see if that gets more focus in future books.