FROM THE BOOK COVER:Blood Blade is the first book in a new urban fantasy series called Skinners. There is plenty of non-stop action, barrels of blood and gore and a surfeit of supernatural bad guys. Cole Warnecki is a video game designer, who takes an extreme vacation excursion hunting in the wilds of British Columbia, a trip that changes his life. Surviving a Full Blood werewolf attack on the camp, Cole journey’s to Chicago to fulfill a promise to one of the dead men. Before you can say werewolves are hairy, Cole find himself recruited into a secret organization where modern day warriors are dedicated to preserving the peace between the various flavours of werewolves, the vampires and humanity.
There is a world you don't know about, inhabited by supernatural creatures of darkness-vampires, werewolves, and all manner of savage, impossible beasts that live for terror and slaughter and blood. They are all around us but you cannot see them, for knowledge of their presence-so close and so hungry-would surely drive any ordinary human insane. But for centuries a special breed of hunter has kept the monsters at bay, preventing them from breaking through the increasingly fragile barriers protecting our mortal realm. These guardians are called skinners.
But beware . . . for there are very few of them left.
Pelegrimas uses the tried and true ‘master and apprentice’ formula to advance the plot and put Cole together with Paige who teaches him Skinner lore and provides weapons training. Skinners are spread thin and a new threat is looming in the form of a powerful psychotic vampire and his twisted half vampire – half Full Blood werewolf enforcer. And the original werewolf has Cole’s scent and may be on his tail.
Blood Blade is the author’s first foray into urban fantasy territory and as with many genre debut novels it has its’ pluses and minuses. Interestingly the publisher EOS has it labelled as Horror but I wouldn’t agree. While there is plenty of violence, there isn’t anything particularly over-the-top. In many ways it is a mashup of horror, paranormal, urban fantasy and video game sensibilities.
Blood Blade presents a number of inventive and interesting ideas. In the Skinners universe vampires are the result of a spore which infects the body, attaching to the heart and replacing the circulatory system. To kill a vampire you need to kill the spore. Skinners are equipped with a very unique weapon that they must create from live wood, treating it with blood from weres and vamps which imbues it with strength, the ability to morph into other shapes and warns the bearer of the proximity of were/vamp threats.
Cole is the most fully realized character in the novel with clear and believable reasons for dropping his old life. I found the reactions, emotions and actions of Paige and Cole however, to be a trifle unrealistic in the face of the constant overwhelming odds and stress. There is a decided lack of fear on their part. In fact they seem to be the happiest and most optimistic pair of supernatural hunters around as their most frequent expression is chuckling. We don’t get to learn a lot about Paige who has the potential to be a terrific character and hopefully we learn more in subsequent stories.
As for the bad guys, the original Full Blood werewolf that launches the story and reappears later is both intriguing and menacing. The bad guy vamp and his sidekick that drives most of the action for the main story arc, I found unsatisfying as he was mostly a stock nutjob character who repeatedly fails to take advantage of killing our protagonists despite numerous obvious opportunities.
Overall, Blood Blade is entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way, with lots of action and mayhem best summed up in this quote from Cole near the end of the book -
Cheap thrills. That was the secret to a happy life, after all.The adventures of the Skinners will continue later this year in the Howling Legion. A preview chapter is included at back of the book.
Author interview at Popin’s Lair.
HarperCollins Publishers (EOS)