18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Unexpectedly interesting and thought-provoking story,
This review is from: A Taste of Crimson (Crimson City) (Mass Market Paperback)
When you do a random library pick you often end up with complete rubbish - I picked "A Taste Of Crimson" from a shelf in the sci-fi category without expecting too much of it - the cover image had a wolf howling at the moon overlaid with a picture of a man in a big cloak running down a road. The blurb on the back seemed overblown and cheesy (as usual) so I expected another run-of-the-mill vampire-werewolf-romance-thriller-chiller story.
"A Taste Of Crimson" surprised me. Yes, it is a story whose main characters are werewolves and vampires. Yes, it's a romance with all the usual trimmings. Yes, there are heroes and heroines and magical vampirey/werewolfy things going on. But there is a very strong theme running through this book that is definitely not run-of-the-mill - it's the theme of acceptance or ostracism of those different to you.
In the Los Angeles of this book, the humans are aware of the vampires and werewolves but are afraid of them and are starting to discriminate against them; werewolves are the bottom of the pile as they aren't rich, well-dressed and sexy like the vampires, so our heroine Keeli Maddox, a werewolf, can barely hold down a waitressing job because of the suspicion with which she is faced. And it's not only the humans who dislike the werewolves, there is also huge mutual antagonism between the vampire and werewolf community. Thus when Keeli meets Michael, a vampire assassin (he kills vampires that have gone rogue and is therefore disliked by his own kind), they face huge difficulties from both her culture and his over their relationship. What is so good about this book is the way in which these problems are described. This may sound a bit trite but sometimes reading this made me think of Germany pre World War 2 when various minority groupings in society were demonised and discriminated against, and often those behaving the worst to these minorities were other minorities. The werewolves and the vampires can't get along but they have to learn to work together in order to deal with the expected future problems from the humans.
Keeli and Michael find themselves working together to find the murderer of vampires - and the evidence suggests that a werewolf is carrying out these killings. The human police don't care about deaths within the supernatural community and so Keeli and Michael are battling against indifference from all but one of the human police and obstructiveness from the werewolves and vampires. Plus Keeli is finding herself becoming stronger and having to avoid challenges to the Alpha of her clan as well as having to do physical battle against those who want to punish her because of her relationship with a vampire. Michael has his own demons - his past as an assassin as well as some less-than-savoury events in his distant past. The way in which two flawed people work together to try and help their ungrateful kin is well written.
As in many books in the sci-fi genre there is a certain element of "Deus ex machine" to help the author out of tricky areas in the plot - in this case Grindla, a demon. What do you do when you need to rescue someone from a Fort Knox-type building? Well, you find your own handy demon who can magic you in and out just like that. And what about the short life span of werewolves compared to the almost-immortal vampires, when your hero and heroine have found each other? Well, perhaps your friendly demon Grindla can help with that too. Perhaps this is slightly lazy writing for an author but overall I didn't mind - the story has so many merits that one or two things like this are acceptable. I found it an enjoyable book to read and apart from a slightly slow section in the middle it kept my interest and I enjoyed finding out about the characters as they learned about themselves and I learned about this new world that they inhabited.