Top positive review
5.0 out of 5 starsAmazing Installment of the Blood Trails series
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 23, 2020
Without getting too spoiler-y, this book shifts many of Shade's relationships into new and interesting dimensions. Huzzah for positive and well-crafted LGBTQ representation, as well as ethnic diversity that's rooted in history and well-researched cultural and political footings (no tokenism, here, readers!). Blackstream deftly juggles her ever-increasing cast of characters with grace; never once do you think a character's presence is missing or extraneous.
I just love Shade. I love how practical and competent she is. I love that she came into the series, book 1, a fully-realized person with skills and abilities that she was confident in. Her growth through the past eight books doesn't rely on tearing her down and rebuilding her; it consists of, basically, cross-training her in skills she hadn't yet accomplished. I also like how normal she is. She's not a disaster or a doormat, but a complete and (other than, ya know, narrative conflict) generally happy person. Her flaws are believable and internally surmountable - she doesn't need to be "fixed" because nothing is broken (got that, Flint?). The mistakes she makes, and the responsibility she feels for them are normal, and perfectly align with both her character and the choices available to her within the storyline. There is no screaming at the page while a perfectly cromulent option whizzes by the MC's neuroses undetected (or, worse, rejected).
Peasblossom is a delight, as always. A couple new dimensions to her character were added to this installment. Scath gets some one-on-one time with Shade. Liam and Shade's relationship is relatively stable after their last case together, so it's nice to have moments of calm between them.
I also have to say, as much as I love Liam (and I ship Shade and Liam), I absolutely love Asher. Part comic relief (omg, one scene in this book, you guys...), part forbidden fruit; while I love sensible MCs and healthy love interests, I'm totally down with twisted side characters (especially when their motivations are reasonable for their characterization).
Arianne's character is so much more complex than I had expected from her short cameos previously. And, excellent planning by Ms. Blackstream, every one of her quirks and idiosyncrasies make total sense. While I don't looooooove her character (like, wanna be besties with her, like I do with Shade), she's a great addition to the cast.