Beyond the Book: Blood Bound, A Fun, Gritty and Intriguing Urban Fantasy

Readers may have heard of Rachel Vincent from her Urban fantasy series Shifters and her young adult series Soul Screamers. Well Rachel is a busy girl, and I got the chance to chat with her a bit at BEA and was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the first book in her new Unbound series, Blood Bound.

Off the bat I need to say that I don’t often read urban fantasy. I don’t think it usually draws me in as much as other types of genres, but being a fan of her work I was excited to check this book out. What I got was a gritty, fast-paced story of murder and betrayal, centered around the magic of the world: people born with Skills, enhanced abilities that allow them to do anything from track people to travel between shadows.

Liv is a blood tracker. She can find someone up to 300 miles away, and all she needs is a blood sample. In a world where Skills come highly desired on the black market—especially one as powerful as hers—Liv is trying to stay neutral and make a life for herself. But her past comes back to haunt her, in the form of a childhood best friend Anne, and her ex, the one man she ever loved, Cam. Anne’s husband was murdered, and she wants the killer tracked. Anne is coerced into helping Cam solve the case, but immediately she discovers that this isn’t just a simple search for a villain, becoming more personally involved than she ever could have imagined.

I loved the Skills, the abilities, their limitations, all of it. Vincent was incredibly creative in this element, and I really enjoyed discovering new Skills as they were mentioned, and understanding the boundaries of all of them. Anne can tell if people are lying. Cam is a tracker too, but with names. The list goes on and on. People can be bound to each other, required to do what the other asks (determined by the rules of the binding and the power of the Binder’s Skill), and as this particular Skill affects all of the major and minor characters in one way or another, it was really great to see how they all intertwined.

The ending was great too, and it had a nice twist that makes me definitely want to keep reading this series. It ties the characters together, and we are left on a cliff-hanger, wondering if Liv will make a life-changing decision. We won’t know until book 2, and I’ll be extremely curious to see what the characters do.

This book also has some actual, full-blown sex in it, which honestly added to the story in a great way. As an avid reader of YA, I don’t often get to read about characters going this far, in this much detail, so it was fun to see how these choices influenced future decisions of both of the characters involved.

My only complaint is that this is urban fantasy to its core, and since that isn’t what I naturally enjoy reading, I didn’t connect as emotionally to the book as I might others that really speak to me. But that’s not the book’s fault, and I did enjoy it; the characters were well-written and compelling, the plot complicated and interesting, and the Skills made it worth the read for me.

All in all, this book was enjoyable. It started off moving and didn’t slow down. Even in the “down” parts, something was always happening, and jumping between the point of view of the two main characters helped fuel the feeling of momentum. If you like urban fantasy, this is a great first book in what is promising to be a wonderful new series.

Blood Bound comes out today, August 23rd, 2011.

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