Author: Meljean Brook
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: July 6th 2010
Paperback: 448 pages
Long before she was transformed into a Guardian and trained to fight demons, Rosalia knew darkness all too well. Raised by a demon, Rosalia learned to guard her heart—and her soul—until she found a man worthy of her love. Once, she thought that man would be the powerful vampire, Deacon…until he betrayed the Guardians.
After losing everything to the lies of a demon, Deacon lives only for revenge—and is taken aback when Rosalia offers to help. A vampire who has nothing—who is nothing—isn’t worthy of her attention. But Rosalia wants to do more than just look, and the explosive need between them can’t be held in check. And when Deacon’s vengeful quest creates a dangerous alliance of their enemies, she will be his only hope…
Stand alone or series: Tenth story in the Guardian series, and the sixth full-length book. If you are starting here (although you are SO missing out if you are), you can read the author’s excellent primer here.
How did I get this book: An ARC from the author
Why did I read this book: Because I will read ANYTHING Meljean Brook writes.
WARNING: Since Demon Blood is the 7th book on an ongoing series, this review contains necessary spoilers for previous books, especially Demon Forged. If you haven’t read Demon Forged and plan to, STEP AWAY NOW. Reading this review will completely SPOIL it for you and that book should not be spoiled. You have been warned!
I am going to skip the usual intro in which I say how much Meljean Brook’s writing and I have crazy chemistry and go really well together ( like rice and beans – if you are Brazilian, you will understand this comparison – or fish and chips) and how Demon Blood is another example of how incredibly smart her writing is.
Instead, I will jump straight into business. In Demon Forged, shit hit the fan. BIG TIME. Loads of people died, including several vampires and a Guardian, there is one crazy Gregori on the loose, the Nephilim are coming to get everybody, Belial may or may not be about to take over Hell. Above all, The Doyen, Michael, also sort of died and is currently trapped in Hell and the new Doyen, Taylor, is a newbie Guardian. Things could not be worse in the Guardian universe.
And you can blame it all on one man: Deacon. A vampire leader who, in order to protect his own community and the ones he loved was led by a demon to betray the Guardians causing the aforementioned to happen and in the end, the demon repaid him by slaughtering his community and his two companions anyway. He was left for dead – a death he welcomed due to his failure – but eventually saved by a Guardian named Rosalia only to walk way as soon as he was able to.
Six months later, all that keeps Deacon alive is his need for revenge as he travels around Europe killing demons. This serves Rosalia really well: she has a master plan and Deacon is instrumental to it, if only she can convince him that she needs his help and his alone.
Demon Blood is probably the most emotionally raw, the most dramatic of the books in the series so far when it comes to its central pairing. If Demon Forged was essentially a Big Picture book without losing sight of the romance, Demon Blood is a Romance book who never loses sight of the Big Picture. And it is all down to the fact that the protagonists are broken: truly, deeply so. How many times have I read books in which the big bad hero doesn’t think he is good enough for the heroine? Or a heroine who has never been loved and wants that more than anything? Many times, and it always bugs me to no end when the reasoning for those are so lame. Not here.
In Deacon’s case he REALLY IS NOT good enough for her. He is totally screwed up inside, so full of self-loathing that he acts the part of the bastard he believes himself to be for the entire novel. Rosalia on the other hand, compensates her lack of being loved by managing and manipulating everybody, I would even go as far as to say that her past actions with regards to Deacon – for she has known him for nearly 90 years – were downright stalkery. The two characters are stripped naked to each other and to the reader and it takes great writing skills to turn these two around in a way that is believable. Kudos to Meljean for, instead of making me want to cut Deacon’s balls off or to tell Rosalia to dry her tears, she actually made me care – and deeply – for them. Rosalia believes in Deacon and sometimes that is all that takes to fix a broken man. Deacon believes that Rosalia is worthy of love so much so that he thinks he is beneath her, that’s how grand he thinks she is.
I am not sure I can say that Deacon and Rosalia are likeable characters though and I struggled with writing my thoughts on them. Worried that readers might be put off by this statement when this is by not, by any means a negative statement, not in this case. Yes, Deacon is not as easily likeable as say, Drifter or Jake. Rosalia is not immediately strong as Irena or Lilith. But it does not matter – what Brook does here is a masterful character study and it presents a more complicated, difficult yet very rewarding read. Picture this: Deacon is essential to Rosalia’s her plan because he is broken, persona non grata everywhere. But her plan is twofold because she plans to bring him back from the abyss as well: she needs to use what is the worst thing about him to bring out his best.
The point I am trying to make became very clear to me yesterday when by sheer luck I came across this article about Unlikeable Female Protagonists by Courtney Summers. Sometimes it is not about connecting or liking a character for ourselves; sometimes is about character development, and story and enjoying them for what they are to the point where,
“how much someone is given–regardless of how nice they are or aren’t–in terms of love and support isn’t up to us, unless we’re the ones doing the giving.”
Or to also quote Louis CK:
“Well, I think “likability” is an overused word. I don’t watch people ’cause I like them; I watch them because they’re compelling. Sympathetic is a little different. It’s like I understand this person, and I never know quite what they’re going to do and I’m really interested in what they might do next and they feel real to me. That’s, I think, way more valuable than likable. Likable just thins you out…”
I love these two quotes and I think they are perfect for the matter at hand. They also tell me how much Meljean Brook has grown as an author and how many risks she will take to remain faithful to her story and to her characters.
And this is not the only risk she takes here. Rosalia’s plan, as genius and impressive as it is in its simplicity (and I love that it is HER plan, ie the female character’s) results in the most anticlimactic outcome for one of the most important things in this world. I won’t spoil but I will admit that I did a double take. However, in taking this risk, Brook has cleared the field and opened up the board for a major showdown and one that WILL mean something. If this was a chess game, I would say: the pawns are all out, only the major players remain and you know what? This is a good thing. She also takes on the loaded issue of motherhood and how /why Guardians cannot (and should not) have children and addresses it beautifully to the point of bringing me to tears.
I can’t finish my review without mentioning the SHEER AWESOMENESS of the Taylor/Michael situation, as it is gripping, suspenseful and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN OH MY GOD PLEASE LET IT BE ALRIGHT. Did I ever say that Brook is a clever writer? Scrap that – she is brilliant: Michael may be in hell but it does not mean that he is not around. In fact, I might have learnt more about him here than I ever did.
And it is from Taylor the best quote from this book:
that’s not going to happen, because there’s going to be a whole lotta motherfucking Guardians standing in the way
I can’t wait to see what happens next. Two more books to go.
Notable Quotes/Parts: The aformentioned quote happens in the final pages and that scene was all kinds of awesome. Also: CERBERUS!
Verdict: I have lost the count on the amount of times I have said that this series is consistently good, incredibly awesome and extremely well-written with great characters and this brilliant overarching plot. It should come as no surprise then that Demon Blood is another strong entry in the series. For all the reasons aforementioned.
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
We have TWO copies of Demon Blood to giveaway to two lucky winners. To enter, leave a comment here telling us which is your favorite book in the series so far. The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada, and will run until tomorrow, Saturday July 3rd at 11:59pm (pacific). One comment per person, please! Multiple entries will be disqualified. Good luck!