HomeReviewReview: Tainted Blood by M. L. Brennan

Tainted BloodThis book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.

So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.

But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…”

One of the things that I like about the power struggles in this series is that it’s not the typical clash of megalomaniac vampires bent on world domination.  Fort’s family has a territory, and rules of living within it, and they co-exist at least somewhat peacefully with other supernatural creatures.  And yet, it’s still apparent that Fort’s mother, the formidable Madeline Scott, has many habits and ways of thinking leftover from earlier centuries.  She expects to rule supreme and to have those under her act as her vassals.  And some of her attitudes bleed over into her older children, Prudence and Chivalry.

Fort is the one who seems most caught in the middle of the oncoming shake-ups.  It’s clear that his mother is weak and near death, and it’s also clear that the races living in Scott territory are hoping to take advantage of the passing of power to effect some change.  With Prudence and Chivalry so set in their ways, and with the other peoples so firmly steeped in the modern world, Fort is the best bridge between all the various factions.

It’s in this way that the main mystery of the novel, the murder of the shifter leader, plays into this larger plotline.  Fort is drawn further into his family’s politics as this smaller change of power echoes and predicts the greater ones to follow if and when Madeline dies.

This book is obviously setting up some massive events and yet it doesn’t drag.  There are plenty of funny moments and memorable lines.  The characters are solid and the worldbuilding strong.  It’s no wonder that I’ve stuck with this series when others have lost my interest.  I heartily recommend this novel, and the ones preceding it, as a great alternative to the cookie-cutter urban fantasy that is all too common.

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