Pros: Very out-of-the-box thinking; fascinating take on vampire physiology
Cons: Needs a continuity edit; a couple of iffy “messages”
Rating: 2 out of 5
Robert Jeschonek’s Bloodliner: A Young Adult Horror Novel is, like the other books I’ve read of his, very outside of the box. However, also like those other books, this doesn’t always entirely work. First of all, I found this book in a bundle of thrillers. What you need to know is that it is, first and foremost, humor/horror, not a thriller. If that isn’t what you’re expecting, you might not enjoy it so much.
Jonah is 18 years old and his parents died in a car wreck recently. His twin brothers were kidnapped five years earlier and were never found. He’s left without any family; all he has is his band, Crimson Wonder, a Jethro Tull tribute band. When a woman comes on to him and takes him outside to the alley between sets at one of his gigs, she nearly kills him–it turns out that she’s a vampire! He’s saved by Stanza Miracolo, a woman who claims to have been hired by his parents to trace his genealogy. She gets a bonus every time she saves his life, apparently, and it’s beginning to look like she’ll earn her pay. She explains that vampires are created when a weird little creature called a feratu burrows inside a host and then devours and replaces its heart. Soon he finds himself on the run from vampire Shakespeare and vampire Genghis Khan, while vampire King Arthur takes up his side–along with his previously unknown cousin, Mavis, who’s a pastor.
This book could have used a good continuity edit. Mavis lost her father a month ago and is thus taking over his church for him… except that she lost her parents years ago, which is why she’s angry at Jonah’s family for not taking her in when she was little. (I’m guessing the father she lost a month ago was a foster father, but this should have been specified.) She’s 19 years old when we meet her, but later she’s described as having bottled up her anger for 30 years. I also don’t understand why, on multiple occasions, certain characters who really should have recognized each other don’t do so. At one point a horse reacts badly to a vampire, but later on vampires are riding horses… which, also, they’re capable of flying, so why bother? I also believe at least one of the vampires was born too early for the timeline of who the supposed progenitor of the vampires was.
Content note that this book does get a little bit bloody in places, but you know, vampires. There are plenty of brutal fights to be read and they’re done well enough that they’re pretty much the highlight of the book.
There are a couple of love plots in here, and the humorous tone doesn’t jibe well with them. They feel like Jonah and Mavis are just having massive crushes rather than actual “love”. There’s very little chemistry between them and the people they fall in love with, and the massive age discrepancy is kind of icky. (At least, given that Jonah and Mavis are as young as they are. They come across as children compared to their crushes.) Also, at one point when Mavis and her love interest are having difficulties, she slaps him and says she wasn’t asking him, “I was telling you.” And just, if the genders were swapped it would be plain as day that this was abusive and controlling behavior, so frankly, this is abusive and controlling behavior and it should not be romanticized.
This book is highly original, but it just didn’t really work for me.