Dark Blood: Fascinating Story (Audiobook Review)

DARK BLOOD

Dark Blood CoverThe Dark Series #26
by Christine Feehan (Author)
Penguin Audio 9/2/2014
Phil Gigante (Narrator), Natalie Ross (Narrator)
Audio 14:57
Penguin/Berkley 9/2/2014
Hardcover/e-Pub 432 pages

Audiobook provided by publisher for review purposes.  No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.

The fates of a warrior reborn and a seductive Dragonseeker are irrevocably entwined in the new Carpathian novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan,”the queen of paranormal romance” (J. R. Ward).

At long last you are truly back with us…

Zev Hunter was an elite warrior, a dark-blood dealer of death to rogue Lycans who preyed on mankind. He was a loner, never given to personal attachments, and damned fierce at his job. But Zev begins to question his past and his purpose when he awakens in the darkness of the sacred cave of warriors — and is soothed back to consciousness by the sensuously familiar voice of one woman, the woman who has haunted his fantasies for centuries. She was Branislava, member of the Dragonseeker clan…

Mother Earth called the ancients to witness your rebirth…

For this half-mage, half-Carpathian temptress, the ritual of awakening Zev to the council of warriors was the only way to save him. Locked away for his own protection, the time has now come for his rebirth, for his blood to stir with that of the ancient warriors before him. He has been assured by Branislava that their fates are entwined, that their spirits are woven together for eternity and that his new purpose in life is beyond imagining.

Now, with a blood-sworn vow of honor, mercy and endurance, and under the influence of a siren as bewitching as Branislava, Zev begins to wonder what his purpose is, what it means for the future of the Carpathians and what it is about his rebirth that he has to fear… http://www.penguin.com/book/dark-blood-by-christine-feehan/9780698153882

square "my take"With the heavily regulated world and variety of species, this feels a little like high fantasy, but it is also paranormal erotic romance. On her website Ms. Feehan says each of these books can stand alone, but that you get a richer experience by reading them in order.  I contend that with this 26th book in the series, if you have no prior knowledge of this world it would put much of the story out of reach.  The backstory, species, rules, and languages were confusing even having read a couple of other books in the series and have a general idea of the differences between one species of supe and the other.

Without backstory, the abilities of characters will seem way too convenient. Need fire? Well, this character just happens to be a Carpathian Mage, Dragon seeker, so she can shift, fly and burn the nasty mage, or, she can call down lightning.  If you don’t have the set-up behind that it just comes off as too slick. Also without plentiful backstory, the sudden and fleeting appearance of characters throughout who I felt I should know but did not was confusing.

I did appreciate the pacing of the story: mysterious rites, love-making, healing and action are packed in and alternated nicely. The style is a little expository, but the characters are “telling” the feeling or action and not the narrator.

Branislava and Zev are a couple, but not knowing them before this, and not understanding the complicated mechanics of this world, it was hard to feel a connection. There’s also a little D/S happening in the “bedroom.” This is supposedly because Zev is alpha, but to me it feels like a bow to the current BDSM hoopla. At one point Zev uses sex as an outlet for angry feelings.

The recording style felt a little creepy, although both narrators have lovely voices. Gigante’s is stentorian and Ross has a beautiful tone and quality. She is able to give voice to a lot of diverse characters with accents and a variety of ages and experience.  Gigante also gives voice to a lot of male characters convincingly,  but  whether it is because more of the male characters have the same accent, or for some other reason, I found it harder to keep track of his characters.   What was creepy was the attempt to sound sexy and mystical, magical, and mysterious, and there was a little too much acting. All they needed were some old fashioned sound effects to turn it into an old radio drama. It felt like an SNL skit lampooning audiobook recordings might feel.

A good part of the recording was the pronunciation of “foreign” words and the chanting of spells. The spells sounded better spoken than I imagine in my head when I read them.  The way magic is imagined and constructed by the author in this series is unique and almost feels like engineering.

You can hear a sample of the audio book here: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Blood-Book-26/dp/B00M7RNQ5U/ref=tmm_aud_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1411608320&sr=1-1

If you are a fan of the series, then of course you are going to read this book.  I think I preferred listening to it, although with the complexity of the world reading might have been easier. I think the backstory issue might have made me give up though. But, I found myself entertained and truly suspense filled with the action and the most climactic scene.  Feehan writes with a lot of description of what is happening all around. She doesn’t stint on, or shy away from scary scenes or sexy scenes. If you like steamy, action-packed fantasy this series may be a great fit for you.

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