Title: A Price of Blood
Authors: Renee Peters and Rae Stilwell
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
The Anowen coven is a 700 year-old family of vampires who move freely among the ranks of society in Regency England. In A Price of Blood, the taut second installment in the Songs of Blood Saga, Arch Lord Lian of Anowen has broken his promise to a rival coven not to sire any new vampires.
As tensions rise between the two covens, war is threatened and even the strongest bonds of blood and fidelity are tested. Embroiled in the middle of this dangerous game of bloodthirsty aristocracy is Delilah, a mortal girl who once captured the heart of Anowen’s Arch lord. In order to protect her, Lian must risk everything he loves.
Co-authors Renee Peters and Rae Stilwell deftly handle the vampire mythos in this new addition to their series. Their introspective vampires can trace their influence back to the complex inner lives of Anne Rice’s characters, but the authors bring their own signature voice to a saturated genre.
Most unique is the psychic bond the vampires share that the authors describe in musical terms. One vampire may describe another vampire’s irritation as staccato strings or the harsh clang of a guitar strum, and these immersive descriptions add a new layer of emotional complexity to a book already driven so much by interpersonal relationships.
Family trees and a cast of thirty characters at the beginning of the book help the audience keep the tangled web of liaisons and relations in order. Still, there are quite a few characters in this book with title such as High Queen, Arch Lord, Elder, or High Lord, and for someone who hasn’t already committed Peters’s and Stilwell’s hierarchy to memory, the ranks can become muddled.
Similarly, concepts like “siring”, “pair bonding”, and taking as a “bride” are endlessly fascinating but would benefit from a clear definition along the way. Fans of the first book may find themselves in need of a refresher on the meanings behind various titles and the emotional entanglements between the characters.
As the two covens hurdle toward war, more characters and subplots are threaded through the already twisted orchestra of alliances. The plot really picks up at about 100 pages in, when Delilah is reunited with the vampires who so disrupted and enchanted her life in the first book.
The narrative could have been enlivened by forgoing some of the long conversation scenes for more action scenes or for succinct exposition. It isn’t uncommon to see three or four conversation scenes in a row in this book, but they remain entertaining as the characters forge schemes, reveal secrets to one another, and tap into the feelings of characters off screen through their musical connection.
All in all, Peters and Stilwell have delivered an engaging, memorable family saga written in blood. Richly-drawn vampires of varying rank, ethnicity, and ability vie for power, love, and influence in this high society drama. Readers are sure to fall in love with the passions and tragedies of their immortal heroes and will be eager to dive deeper in the third installment of the series.
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