How a Man Does It: Review of Blood Blade

Blood Blade BookjacketBlood Blade is one of three books in the Skinners saga, a dark fantasy written by Marcus Pelegrimas.  In it you’ll find vampires that make more sense than traditional ones, a little romance, and a plentitude of blood and gore.

As the sole survivor of a werewolf attack, Cole Warnecki, video game designer,  finds himself entangled with a group of enforcers known as Skinners.  They open his eyes to the multitude of monsters that populate our world.

The Skinners keep werewolves, as well as vampires, in check, preventing them from overthrowing humanity.  The problem is that Skinners are very few in number and are having difficulty keeping the crucial balance between the predators and the prey.  Things don’t get any better when a crazed vampire named Misonyk gains control of an unidentifiable monstrosity known only as Henry.

Cole ends up becoming the sidekick of seasoned Skinner, Paige, a rather intense woman dedicated to her mission.  She is the typically hot, tough, and deadly brunette with beautiful curves and cute features that make Cole want to gush in his pants (yeah, this is pretty much verbatim).  Paige does her best to teach Cole the ways of the Skinners, but as is often the case with first time heroes, Cole learns by constantly having to defend himself from brutal death at every turn more than he does from the things she can tell or show him in relative safety.

What I like about the story is that the Skinners do not rely on high-tech gadgets and guns.  They rely on the knowledge passed down by their predecessors over the century and employ the rather painful use of hand made weapons that are bonded to their owners by blood and flesh.  Because of this bond, the Skinners can manipulate their weapons to a certain degree, whether by adjusting the size or length, or even calling the weapon near if it gets knocked from their hands.  On top of that, they research a monster’s abilities and then try to use them to their advantage.  The skins of certain beasts can prove useful as armor, or the oily secretions from others may allow for invisibility.  Nothing goes to waste with the Skinners and they make do with what they have.  Since they usually work in groups of two or three, they rely not only on cunning and quick reflexes, but on each other as well.

The Nymar (vampires) are an interesting batch as well.  A parasite of sorts attaches to the host’s heart, causing him/her to grow black veins throughout the body and giving them a nice set of fangs.  Because the Nymar are not demonic, these vampires do not fear sunlight, crucifixes, or require one to welcome them into the home.  There is even a passage I should like to quote from the book that made me laugh hysterically.

“Alright,” Cole said as he whipped around to look at Paige.  “Why didn’t you tell me vampires aren’t afraid of sunlight?”
“Who ever said that sunlight bullshit was real anyway? In fact, even in the movies, why would sunlight work on them?
“I don’t know.  It’s just…supposed to work!”

Pelegrimas knows how to write.  His attention to detail and ability to weave vivid images makes it obvious that he has a love for his work.  However, as much as I liked the book, I do admit there were a few things that bothered me.  Although it is perfectly accurate as to how a man would act, it does get a little old at times when Cole stares at Paige’s ass and admires the shape of her breasts in a tight sports bra, or when he notices her smile and starts daydreaming, or wet dreaming?  The first few times Cole observes Paige’s beauty, it seemed appropriate.  But as I got further into the book, instead of coming off as a man gradually falling in love with his mentor, Cole came off as a progressively hornier bastard.  Perhaps it was intentional, as he is a man after all, and this is a man’s take on a supernatural romance, but I do feel this could have “blossomed” better.

The only other thing i didn’t like is the lack of history in this first book.  However, I have faith that Pelegrimas will give more detailed histories of one or all three factions in the second book.  He gives us plenty on the Nymar and just enough on the Skinners to give us an understanding, but we hardly know much about the Full Bloods and Mongrels (werewolves).  Granted, I understand that in three books, this would be very hard to accomplish, but if Pelegrimas’ world extends beyond the initial trilogy, there are endless possibilities to explain the history of all three groups.

Aside from occasional moments that are too cheesy even for a B-movie, the book is a very entertaining read.  Pelegrimas provides an interesting take on vampire and hunter, although the wolves aren’t terribly different from their cousins.  If you can overlook the small shortcomings, you’ll find yourself captured by Cole’s plight and eagerly turning the pages, engross in the world Pelegrimas created.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Eos (January 27, 2009)

Check out our interview with the author, Marcus Pelegrimas.

    • Rob
    • January 29th, 2009

    Sounds a little like “Night Watch” by Sergei Lukyanenko. I must find this…

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