Living Beyond Reality Press, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-9792741-3-8
Bloodchained is Diana Laurence’s departure from her Soulful Sex series. This one is the result of a collaboration of minds between Ms Laurence and 63 other people whose names are on the title page if you want to see for yourself whether the author has missed anybody out.
There are several key players here. In a town called Audicacia, Sebastian and Lauren Gilder inherited the Gilder Tavern from their late mother Laurene. Despite their youth, they quickly set about rebuilding the run-down tavern as well as establishing the Temple of Love, a place where you can go to make an offering in hope of finding success in matters of the heart. Meanwhile, Finn Equan, a nobleman in the nearby town of Audica, finds a book about the Roicans, a supposedly mythical race of beautiful bloodsuckers. The book tells him that the Roicans are actually a good race all about love and warm fuzzy feelings until some bad seed eventually caused the whole race to go astray and become the fiends known as the Bloodletters in current-day Audican urban legends. Needless to say, he’s soon obsessed about the Roicans the way a Livejournal emo kid is obsessed with Lestat the vampire. Then there are Liam Koll and her sister who drop by the Temple of Love one day along with Finn. These three guests will make the lives of Sebastian and Lauren a little bit more interesting than before. There is also a woman, Helena, that will play a role in muddling up the relationship between Liam, Neesa, and Finn, but she will show up a little later in this story.
Oh, and the Roicans do exist. They have names like Crystalina Diliniary, they are beautiful and perfect people, and the unattached pretty ones are looking for Blood Mates. If you ask me where the Roicans have been hiding all this while, I suspect that they must be hiding within the Mary Sue fanfiction pieces found on fanfiction.net.
I suspect that some readers will find Bloodchained quite annoying to follow. The first few chapters skip forward every two years or so, until the characters meet and then they decide to take turns narrating their stories, which means the story then begins moving backwards via flashbacks. The story subsequently moves back to present day, and so forth. Personally, I don’t really mind the deliberate play with chronology but I also can’t help thinking that the few first chapters are redundant. Do I really need to read about how Grace and Sebastian, two ridiculously perfect yet flat characters ripped out from the womb of Mary Sue, return to the tavern and renovate it into the Temple of Love? The story really begins when all five characters meet, while makes the scenes taking place prior to this that have nothing to do with the storyline unnecessary in my opinion.
Because of the horrendously flat Mary Sue traits plaguing both Sebastian and Grace, I initially have a hard time getting into this story because every time those two show up, I cringe. Really, these two act, speak, and think so much like a typical Mary Sue character that I actually wonder whether the author is aiming for some kind of parody with these characters. Alas, no, these two characters continue to be annoying throughout the story. Finn and Liam are much better characters in that they display deeper and more complex layers in their personalities when compared to the utter flatness of the creepy Mary Sue siblings. Meanwhile, poor Nessa and Helena don’t really come off like characters in their own right but rather, more like one-dimensional characters created solely to become some bloke’s girlfriend. As a result, I can’t help thinking that this one may turn out to be a stronger book if the author has focused merely on Liam, Finn, and Helena. After all, this story focuses mostly on their relationship with each other, especially with that of Liam and Finn being the most well-developed aspect of the story, so I feel that the story could have just removed one of the Mary Sue siblings and one of the poorly-developed female characters without affecting the main storyline too much.
Despite being heavy with “soul mate/vampire bond” clichés that I am developed an allergy to, this story is pretty interesting, I find, mostly because of the relationship between Liam and Finn and the ensuing drama. Unfortunately, I also feel that the cast is too large with one too many characters coming off as flat and uninteresting. The slow and plodding first few chapters also don’t make it any easier to enjoy this book.
There are some interesting ideas here and there in Bloodchained as well as some interesting characters (Finn, mostly), but I feel that they hardly make up for the awkward execution, the corny “our predestined love will… defeat evil!” clichés a-plenty, and the abundance of cringe-inducing Mary Sue elements plaguing this book.
Crystalina Diliniary. What kind of name is that?