The Bloodbound

**Copy of The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey given by Literary Agent Lisa Rodgers in exchange for an honest review**

Sometimes, the best books you don’t discover. Instead, they find you.

Like The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey, for instance. I had no idea this book existed. It had never slipped onto my radar and I had no idea the author existed. I might have never discovered it, if I hadn’t happened to be introduced to Lisa at WorldCon last year and the topic of my book review blog hadn’t been brought up. A few months later, a box of Jabberwocky goodies arrived at my door, courtesy of Lisa. Amongst them was The Bloodbound. It took me a while to actually get to reading this book (and considering Lisa’s kindness, I really should have read this sooner), but perhaps I was meant to read this book at this moment. Because wow, did I need to read this book right now.

I am so thankful for it.

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When I started reading The Bloodbound, it immediately felt like coming home. I’m not exactly sure how this is, considering this book was literally dropped in my lap as a surprise. Perhaps it was because I haven’t read something with a historical feel in quite some time, even though stories about knights were my bread and butter growing up. Perhaps it was because I’ve always been a sucker for writers who give attention to the details and aren’t afraid of the gruesome ones–and The Bloodbound was filled with both. Perhaps it was because there was a complicated love triangle that mirrored ever so slightly to what I am dealing with currently in my life, so I was desperate for any sort of guidance of what I should do or solace that love would win out in the end. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these things.

Or perhaps it was simply because of Alix Black.

Our heroine, a lady and scout who moves up the ranks in surprising ways, I immediately latched onto Alix’s strength. Mostly because I wasn’t shown only her prowess in battle, her resistance against gender limitations, her fierce tongue or how she carried on and made tough choices despite what she struggled with personally. I also saw her vulnerability. Her nervousness, her doubting her own skills and decisions, her mistakes, risking her heart and being confused. In her, I saw pieces of myself and admired pieces that I’m lacking, yet Alix exemplifies, to the point where it emboldens me to want to emulate her a little bit more; be a little braver, take a few more risks, have confidence in my voice and trust my heart. Alix was so much more than just a simple character in a story that you read and enjoy, then promptly forget about.

To me, Alix was real. And she’s bloody inspiring.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book thoroughly and devoured it. Especially once I reached the end. I’d be lying if I said I had to make a microwavable meal for dinner the night I finished the book, as it distracted me from reality so well that I missed my eating window before work and had to scramble to get something into my stomach. It was beautifully written, the characters are fantastically complex and realistically three-dimensional, and the warfare and political schemes were a delight to get lost in.

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I’m pretty sure that Lisa, the kind aforementioned literary agent who sent me a copy of book, knew that I would fall so hard for Alix and the world she lives in and is trying to save…as she also sent me copies of books two and three in the trilogy. *bows down in gratitude* She might not have known how much I needed this book when I finally found time to read it, but I am seriously thankful for it and the courage–and hope–I found reading it.

Read on!

PS: I also included both versions of the cover, because holy goodness, they are both so gorgeous.

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Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles

** I was given an early copy of the book by the G.S. Denning, because he’s merciful and knows how eagerly I have been awaiting this book. He’s also horrible. Read on to find out why.**

So, friends.

Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles.

Holy shit.

If you read my review of Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone, the first book in this series, you know how hard I’ve fallen for this retelling. How well the characters captivated my mind, captured my heart and did their best to give me abs (thanks to laughter–in case you had any idea that Warlock and his wacky impropriety or Watson and his esteemed passion for being properly English somehow encouraged me to work out. I confess that you are sadly mistaken and I’m still ab-less–but I might have laugh lines when I get older, just from this series alone).

I had really high expectations for this book. It does contain my favorite Holmes story, after all. And as I became, dare I label it, friends with the author, I became even more invested and my expectations continued to rise.

I’m delighted to report that those expectations were not disappointed.

(I would like to offer a little caveat real quick and let you know that being friends, per say, with the mind behind the madness does not taint the outcome of this review at all–which you might find hard to believe, considering this one is glowing. Nor does getting surprised with an early copy of the book. If you don’t trust my word that is positive review is unbiased, why don’t you check out the book and let me know what you think? I promise the story will speak for itself.)

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First off, I absolutely love the way the book was organized. You get a couple, shorter sections covering various cases/stories before you get to the meat and potatoes of the book (which, in this case, involved the most interesting hell-hound I’ve ever encountered and a very unfortunate family). The stories before the main event were no filler or fluff, either. All of them were a joy to read and I actually read all four cases in one sitting, they were that un-put-down-able (because that’s a word).

(I would like to take this moment to also formally deny that the lack of productivity at work last Thursday had absolutely no correlation to that reading-binge. None. At all.)

I actually annoyed one of my coworkers because I kept switching between giggling and suppressed snort-laughter for the entire two hours I read those first four cases. But I couldn’t help it. You try and read about Grogsson’s SPOILER SPOILER or Warlock SPOILER sneeze SPOILER or Watson SPOILER SPOILER dang Canadian SPOILER SPOILER or Mrs. Hudson SPOILER that smut did what? SPOILER and try not to laugh. It’s practically impossible.

Mix in all of that humor, the clever one-liners and fantastic references, and you already have a recipe for a seriously awesome book. But then you read the tale of the Baskervilles and you get another element that you didn’t see as much of in the first part of the book, yet it also didn’t feel out of place sneaking its way into this case. Instead, it complemented this retelling and fulfilled all expectations.

The element of darkness.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s plenty of grotesque details that threads throughout the series that is utterly fantastic (and sometimes makes me question my decision to eat while reading), but the darkness that surrounded the twist in Baskervilles surprised me. And I immediately loved it, even if reading about it made my heart hurt a little. It gave the story even more depth than it already has and complicated Warlock’s complexity. I finished the book feeling absolutely content.

Well, almost content.

I know what you’re waiting for. Nicole, you mentioned that the author was horrible in the first paragraph. I’m dying to know why. Oh, I’ll tell you why.

The ending.

That single bloody line.

How dare you, sir. *stares straight at Denning* That’s right, I’m talking directly to you, now. You know what you did. You know exactly what. *grumbles about book three’s unknown publication date and other spoiler-y unmentionables*

Now I realize that you, dear reader, have no idea what I’m talking about. Luckily, I have the perfect remedy for you. (Hint: it’s reading the book, which could actually be pre-ordered (before May 16th) or purchased (after the 16th) here or here or here. You’re welcome.)

Read on!

PS: Also, that cover art? *drools*