Monday, January 5, 2015

Tainted Blood by M.L. Brennan

I normally don't read books with vampire protagonists, but when I do they're written by M.L. Brennan. Vampires are probably the most overused trope in urban fantasy, and many discerning readers turn their noses up at books that focus on the vampire as the hero. I am one of those readers, by and large. M.L. Brennan's Generation V novels are the exception. With a protagonist that is far from the popular image of the brooding, preternatural predator, flawless and unconventional world building and a light-hearted sense of humor that keeps me in stitches, these books have earned a proud place on my overflowing bookshelves. The latest installment, Tainted Blood continues to deliver everything I come to expect from the adventures of Fortitude Scott but takes great pains to remind both readers and protagonist alike that being a vampire isn't all superpowers and wisecracks.
In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…

Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.

So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.

But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…

Once again, Fortitude Scott's involvement with the family business is on the rise, with him taking over for his older brother while Chivalry comes to terms with the death of his most recent human bride. His investigation of the murder of the head of the metsan kunigas or werebears, if you prefer proceeds along at a rapid pace, with Fort once again relying on his brains over his increasing physical capabilities. As expected, his allies in the supernatural community play a large role in his investigations, As far as the murder plot, there are some nice twists and turns but those are far less compelling than the progression in the larger story arc of the series.

Tainted Blood is a novel about transitions and Bhumika's death and Chivalry's reaction to her inevitable demise serve to underscore the darker side of the vampiric lifestyle. Fortitude's growing dependency on his mother's blood and the lessons he learns about the exact nature and manner of fulfilling his dietary needs once he transitions into an mature vampire provide a darker undercurrent to this installment, nicely balancing the witty repartee and pop culture references that make the series such a joy to read. All in all, the tone of Tainted Blood sits in the perfect sweet spot between the more serious Harry Dresden series and the laugh a minute style of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles. Fans of either series should give Fortitude's adventures a read,

There's a bit of a middle book feel to Tainted Blood, because of Fort's status as a fledgling vampire on the cusp of more power, responsibility, and his place in the shifting hierarchy of the supernatural community. With his mother's power on the decline, the various factions are looking to Fortitude as a possible ally to mitigate the harsher sociopathic tendencies of his elder siblings. Even Fort's relationships are in flux. His relationship with Suzume, his kitsune partner in crime, is on the edge of romance and his relationship with his siblings, Chivalry and Prudence, are likewise shifting. Chivalry finally begins to see Fortitude as more than a child and Prudence actually takes a sisterly role in his supernatural education which adds a welcome level of depth to their family dynamics, disfunctional as they may be. My only complaint is that Fort seems completely removed from the mortal society around him, with his human connections set aside for the time being.

Brennan's world building continues to impress, with the addition of the werebear community and more information on both the witches and the elven communities featured in the previous books. Brennan never takes the easy route, using mythologies from around the world to compliment the supernatural denizens of her world. No creature ever feels like a two dimensional monster from central casting, and stereotypes are consistently broken to engaging effect.

I'm eager to see where the next volume, Dark Ascension takes Brennan's unusual cast of characters as Fortitude grows in power and the stakes promise to get more serious on all fronts. Brennan continues to be one of the most engaging and unique voices in urban fantasy. Don't let the beefcake covers and bloodsucking protagonist fool you. 


  1. I don't read a lot of urban fantasy, but I have been curious about Brennan's books

  2. I have cussed about the covers since I discovered the series. I have said it before but I honestly thought this was a tie-in for a TV show at first based on the cover.

  3. I'm so happy to have found M.L.Brennan and his new series. Generation V, Iron Nights and Tainted Blood are the order the series needs to be read in. I loved Fort-the quintessential struggling nice guy hero trying to find a balance between vampire biology and ethical behaviour. Suzume is plain old kick butt awesome. Great world building and character development. Definitely my new favorite.

    Click here for Maid Service Warwick NY visit site