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Joint Review – Blood for Blood (Zytarri #1) by Darcy Abriel

blood for blood by darcy abrielPublisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out Now
How we got this book: eARC from the author
Reviewers: MinnChica and Marlene

Love can be a powerful ally or a lethal weapon.

“Zytarri, Book 1”

“The Past ”

Leora Saguna has become what her kind fear most a blood huntress. Fueled by a lust for revenge for the assassination of her Alpha, she has violated every Sangorrian law to track the murderers down. And one day return to her infant daughter, Katriel.

Each time Noah Chisca watches his mark take macabre delight in her task, he is one dead bandit closer to earning the highest bounty of his career. Yet he can t deny the desire that twists his gut. He takes her captive; she takes him as her mate.

“The Present ”

Katriel knows bonding with the mate her mother has chosen will ensure her future as heir. But the memory of the forbidden warrior monk who stole her heart haunts her, and she rebels.

Valyn s identity is hidden until he s proven himself worthy of Katriel. But fighting a deadly dragon is only the beginning of their nightmare, as sinister forces conspire to shake the foundations of Sangorrian society and unleash a reign of blood that may destroy them all.

This book has been previously published and has been extensively revised from its previous release.

Warning: Contains red-hot flashbacks, white-hot Sangorrian mating rituals, blood and gore, a villain into torture, and no-holds-barred erotic passion.”
*Blurb from Goodreads*

Marlene: I picked this book because I met the author at a con and she remembered my reviews of her books Silver and Haevyn over at the late, lamented Book Lovers, Inc. and on Reading Reality. While those reviews were not totally favorable, when I saw her name as the author of a new book, or at least a book both new to me and first in a series, I decided to give her another try.

Blood for Blood reminds me in a strange way of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series. It has the same kind of dark and dangerous atmosphere, with sex and blood serving as the binding agent. Also, this society is a matriarchy where the women seem to have all the power after they mature, but are total pawns until they do. A lot of subtext in Blood for Blood is about the exchange of blood as a kind of metaphor for dominance/submission. Your mileage may definitely vary on that.

MinnChica: I have read Abriel in the past as well, and was intrigued enough by the blurb to give this book a try. The world building sounded super unique and different, however it is also extremely dark and twisted. This isn’t your typical romance either. The start of the book makes you believe the main characters to be Leora and Noah, however by the end of the book, it’s obvious that Leora’s daughter, Katriel and her mate Valyn are the true protagonists of this ongoing series.

Marlene: This is a revenge story, particularly in the case of revenge best being served cold. In the beginning, it seems relatively simple. Assassins killed Leora’s husband, so she became a huntress to find them and kill them all. But it’s not that simple. Leora’s people, the Sangorrians, are blood drinkers. Normally, they are sustained by the blood of their mates, and it is illegal to drink another’s blood. The Sangorrans used to be savage predators, and were in danger of wiping out their prey, other sentients, before they created their legal system.

Leora plans to kill herself before she can be dragged back home for trial, but after her last kill, she is stopped by a bounty hunter who wants to save her instead of turning her in. While she is eventually rehabilitated and survives justice, the son of her last victim vows her death. He just has to grow up first.

MinnChica: In many ways, Marlene is right. This book is more of a revenge story than anything else. Abriel does a good job of skipping POV between all the main characters throughout the book, including the man seeking retribution. This book is dark. Like…. super dark. If issues of rape and torture are trigger warnings for you, it might be best for you to skip this one. Abriel doesn’t pull her punches in terms of story telling, and there were times that it was uncomfortable for me to read some of the things that were going on. 🙁

Marlene: Even though it is Leora’s crime and punishment that begins the story, the story belongs to her daughter Katriel. The hard part about using Katriel as the point of view character is that the young woman is kept in the dark – not just about the destruction that is coming, but about everything it means to be a female Sangorrian. Her mother seems to have also kept her in the dark about how to run the principality she will inherit.

The rude awakening for young Sangorrian females is quite a shock all the way around. Maturity seems to descend like a hammer when they take a lifemate and first drink his blood. Katriel spends a lot of the story rebelling against her mother’s strictures because she doesn’t yet know what she is being protected from. And at 22, she does have the intellectual capacity to understand what’s going on – but no one tells her until it is too late.

MinnChica: While I like Katriel and Valyn’s romance, and thought in many ways it was epic and felt a bit like a fated mates type scenario, I did enjoy the two of them together. That being said, poor Katriel had a hard time growing up because everyone did keep her in the dark. Her mother didn’t want to burden her, her new mate didn’t want to worry her, and Katriel was left feeling like the odd man out. She was forced to grow up quickly, and sometimes it felt like she was constantly making bad decisions because of it. I would have liked to see her character grow in a more mature fashion.

Marlene: We also see some of the action from the very evil perspective, and this is definitely a villain with no redeemable characteristics whatsoever. He buys or steals slaves, forcibly addicts them to a drug that makes them sex slaves, and performs genetic experiments on them. This is not a head that anyone would want to be in for any length of time.

Now that I’ve finished Blood for Blood, I’m not quite sure I liked this book. It is very dark, in the sense that “things are always darkest just before they turn completely black”, but I felt compelled to finish it, if only to find out whether things were going to hell in the handbasket in the way that I thought they were. In the end, it was all much too dark and gruesome for me. But I know that there are readers who will eat it up with a spoon.
I give Blood for Blood a C+.

MinnChica: All in all, I thought this was a very interesting in book in terms of the world-building. Abriel has built a vast world, with many different characters that are well thought out and extremely complex. In that regard, I did enjoy the book. However, the subject matter was so dark and the lack of a strong romance subplot left me feeling like there was something missing.
I give Blood for Blood a C

By Marlene

Marlene is a librarian, ebook advocate, science fiction fan, and RPG fan who lives in Atlanta. She and her husband are owned by three cats, just ask them. She's a geek and a nerd and proud of it. She's also an avid reader of everything, including the back of the cereal box, and has been blogging since April 2011 at Reading Reality and is a reviewer at Library Journal as well as active on Goodreads.

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