Review: Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Blood Rights is the first book in The House of Commaré series by Kristen Painter. It was published on October 1, 2011. There are three books currently available in this series.

The Blurb

The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely-wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers.

Gothic fantasy meets vampire fiction in this debut novel from Kristen Painter – full of politics, intrigue, and blood.

Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré — a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.

Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds.  If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign.

My Review

If you’re not burned out on vampire books yet, Painter gives us a nice, unique twist on the genre with Blood Rights. Our main character, Chrysabelle, is a comarré, which is basically a fancy term for a certain species of human that is born as food for the vampire nobility. Because doesn’t every girl want to grow up to be a pampered trophy and gourmet meal? Yeah, me neither – and apparently neither did Chrysabelle, as she was planning to leave her rich patron and luxurious life for a normal one in the mundane world.

Before she can, of course, her patron is murdered and Chrysabelle is forced to run for her life. She runs to her aunt (who is not really her aunt, as no comarré knows who her biological family is), who has been living a mundane life as the handicapped owner of a cosmetic company in what we are told is New Florida. This designation puts a near-future spin on the tale, but we’re told no real details of Florida – either the old or the new.

Mal, the conflicted outcast vampire who has been cursed to kill every human he drinks from, is a welcome addition (and contrast) to Chrysabelle’s story. I was ready to like Chrysabelle when she stabs Mal in the bar at the beginning of the story, but this was before we find out that not only is she apparently ambrosia to vampires but she also has been trained from a young age in combat skills. In fact, Chrysabelle apparently  has no flaws whatsoever, except for the fact that she seems alarmingly (and conveniently) attracted to the outcast Mal for someone who is supposed to be keeping herself – and thereby her blood – “pure”.

I’m being kind of snarky here, so let me reassure you that the story was gripping enough that I didn’t think about any of these annoyances until I sat down to write this review. The only thing that bothered me at the time was the obviousness of [character] being [this other character] from [first character’s] past. Twice. Sigh.

Personally, I found the supporting characters more engrossing. Mal is haunted by the voices of the people he’s killed, but only one of them can manifest herself as a real ghost. She’s interesting, as well as the cat shapeshifter who happens to be in love with her. This gentleman kitty is cursed [Cursed again? Everyone is cursed in this book…] to only be able to shapeshift into the form of a house cat. I will most likely continue reading the series simply to find out what happens to those two, and to the noble vampire villainess who has allied herself with a creature who is described – but not named as – what can only be some sort of demon.

This book is listed on NetGalley as being adult fantasy, but it looks and reads more like a young adult novel to me – and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.  The cover is gorgeous, the writing is sensual, and for those who don’t mind a little predictability in their stories, it’s overall a pretty nice tale. I’d recommend it for voracious readers, vampire fans, and older teens. I’m luke-warm about this one myself, but I will continue reading and I suppose that’s all that matters, yes?

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