The first in a new urban fantasy series by Cherie Priest, author of Boneshaker and Dreadnought, Bloodshot introduces us to Raylene Pendle, Seattle-based vampire and world-renowned thief under the alias “Cheshire Red”. Raylene is a loner who doesn’t play well with others, but when a fellow vampire comes to her with a case, she takes it—and then finds that she’s in deeper than she thought. For Uncle Sam doesn’t play well with others, either, and Raylene’s client is asking for the classified documents on the secret biological experiments which left him blind. It’s a ride filled with the supernatural, men in black, and drag queens—and it’s a heck of a lot fun.
More vampires? Really?
Yes, really. But Raylene isn’t a vampire of the “standard” pop-culture-issued variant which feed on sex and virgins and whatnot. No, she’s a vampire who actually feeds on blood—a novel concept, I know. (Har, a pun!) Granted, I was still apprehensive when first picking the book up, as I’m not typically a fan of most works centering around vampires nowadays. But I was very pleasantly surprised with Bloodshot, as Priest gives a very detailed version of vampirism but doesn’t go over the top with it. Her vampires are undead, yes, but they still have bodily processes, still need sleep, and still bleed. Not to mention they drink actual blood, avoid the sun if at all possible, and have the heightened senses and physical prowess one would expect from a supernatural being. All in all, a very attractive style of vampirism.
Rogue gone wild.
Raylene is a vampire gone rogue—she doesn’t affiliate herself with any of the vampire Houses, the main power structures in vampiric society. However, Priest puts a spin on the “going rogue” motif: Raylene is a high-profile, internationally wanted thief—and is thought to be a guy. That extra tidbit doesn’t come into play much in this first novel, but I believe it will resurface later in Raylene’s story. That being said, I was quite taken with the concept of the protagonist being a thief, and thoroughly enjoyed the paces Priest put her through.
Vamps just wanna have fun…
Well, okay, maybe not so much. But that’s what this novel was, for me: sheer fun. And what made it fun was the way Priest wrote her characters. Raylene is a character who loves to ramble, and more often than not she will digress on her current topic only to realize it and stop—only to pick up the tangent at a later time. The banter is a lot of fun, even if it’s only between Raylene and herself most of the time.
The thing that really sold the novel as fun for me, though, was Raylene’s interaction with a drag queen named Sister Rose. Raylene’s commentary is hilarious and priceless. This isn’t to say that Priest is making fun of any community of people, because that is not the case at all. It’s a character’s reaction to her situation—and Sister Rose gives as good as she gets. It’s quite the wild and fun ride.
Why should you read this book?
Read it for a new taste of vampires. Vampires have gotten to be so commonplace in contemporary fantasy settings today that they’ve lost a lot of their flair. Priest reinvigorated the vampire motif for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed Bloodshot despite my initial apprehensions. And, more importantly, read it for the sheer enjoyment of it. Bloodshot is one heck of a fun novel, and I finished it only to want to pick up the second book, Hellbent, immediately. This novel is a definite urban fantasy favorite of mine, and I look forward to where Priest will take us in the future.