Before I get to the review I wrote when I first read this book, I should point out that I'm re-reading it. The sequel (The Spider Goddess) is coming oBefore I get to the review I wrote when I first read this book, I should point out that I'm re-reading it. The sequel (The Spider Goddess) is coming out soon and I enjoyed this book so much that I want the story fresh in my noggin before I start it. Ready for the review? Here goes...
I love supernatural stuff. Always have. Call me a stick-in-the-mud purist, but many of the new takes on established characteristics of supernatural folk set my teeth on edge. I'll take Anne Rice over Stephanie Meyer any day. Who the hell ever heard of vampires twinkling in the sunlight fer gossake?
When I saw The Blood Countess on Amazon, I groaned 'Not another one'
(I should also point out I groaned because I'd just about had enough of the genre, not because of anything to do with the author - I'd read all her other stuff and was genuinely curious to see how she'd go cross-genre scribbling - sjbg 12/nov/2011)
I needn't have worried. Moss didn't cover up a blatant rip-off of Romeo and Juliet by breaking the rules and adding vampires. She pulls you through a tale original enough to hang upside-down on its own two claws. The result? Me likey.
The Blood Countess is not one of these oh-so-serious manifestos that threatens fire and brimstone if you dare crack a smile. It's fun. Fun for lots of reasons. The plot itself is just a smidge formulaic, but there are none of those over-used surprise twists or red herrings that so many authors seem to think they have to have to create a decent story. It's not particularly scary, but there's enough creepy goings on to keep even the most die-hard horror buffs interested. The romance kooky and not too gushy. The intrigue is written well enough that you don't guess the ending halfway through and it's very nice to get to the last page looking forward to the sequel.
What's wrong with it? Not much actually. It's a bit young for an old cynic like me but that's part of the fun. It doesn't take itself so super-seriously that you're left thinking the Moss must be every bit as unhinged as some of her villains. I'd like to have seen more blood and guts action, especially at the end, but even though it wasn't particularly gory, it was still creepy. Terms like 'gothic' might have been thrown about a little too much and the protagonist's home town probably didn't need to be mentioned quite so often, but these don't spoil the read.
I cringed a bit at some of the name choices. Still, Moss gets away with it by making the story so enjoyable and by using her considerable knowledge of the fashion and publishing industries. I've been in publishing. I've seen some of the pretentious crap that can go on like changing one's name to Morticia. It was also fun to see her tipping her hat to forerunners in the genre. The bad guy's (or bad thing's) evil plan itself is almost a homage to every comic book that ever had a super-villain who cried 'I shall take over the world! Muahahaha!' Even more entertaining was noticing Moss nicely pull off flipping the bird here and there too.
Moss writes her female protagonists well and even if she's reluctant to (publicly) slot her latest work into a pigeonhole, it's pretty obvious most of the readers who'll enjoy The Blood Countess are female and younger than me. After all, Pandora English is a 19 year-old young woman and I'm a 40 year-old bloke.
Is it 'chick-lit'? I hate that term. I refuse to apply it to anything I read or review. The Blood Countess is a paranormal tale. Booksellers may have a hard time choosing a section for it. Their problem. You'll have no trouble. Sort your books by author and put The Blood Countess in the M section and you'll do just fine. If you're not going to buy it, get to a library. Either way, it's worth it. The Blood Countess is great. Read it. I bought my copy from Amazon.
I give it 7/10. Will I read the sequel The Spider Goddess when it comes out? Yeasth, Misthtresss...