[Review] THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD by Suzanne McLeod

Suzanne McLeod

Cover Copy: Genevieve Taylor is a sidhe – one of the noble fae – and she’s unusual even in a London where celebrity vampires, eccentric goblins and scheming lesser fae mix freely with humanity…

Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com, where she finds the “M” in magic – which can mean anything from mischief to malice to murder. The spellcrackers are run by the Witch Council, whose ancient tenets prohibit any contact with vampires. And that’s just fine with Genny, who wants as little to do with the bloodsuckers as possible.

But when a sinfully sexy vamp is accused of killing his lover, an old debt forces Genny to help prove his innocence, risking her job, her safety – and the exposure of her own dark secrets. Genny soon realizes that she and her client are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle. And it’s not just her own neck at stake but the lives of all of London’s supernatural beings.

My Thoughts: Genny Taylor works for Spellcrackers.com, a witch-run company that specializes in “undoing” spells placed by mischief makers and ne’er-do-wells. Employees like Genny “crack” the spells by pulling out the magic. From what I understand, the witches have been trained to use the magic they’ve cracked, but Genny can’t do this.  She can pull the magic out of the spell, store it inside herself, but she has trouble disposing of it. Probably because she’s not a witch– she’s half fae, half vampire.

The vampires in THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD have cool powers– one of them can Stop Time, another travels only by shadows– and are of course, plagued with politics, and are very dangerous. Though she’s half vampire, Genny appears to all as a fae. To turn vamp, she has to invoke illegal dark magic, something she must do every so often to placate the vampire-related disease she’s contracted. This disease has her craving vampire venom and seeking out fresh victims to suck the venom from their bites, lest she be driven mad by the cravings. This makes for great character building, and I loved the fresh take on a ‘vampire junkie’.

THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is set in modern London, and written by a Brit, so a word of warning about the language. I was totally fine with it, but I’m half English and grew up hearing these words. I also loved seeing a darker side to London, an insider’s guide to the city. I didn’t once feel like I was reading a tourist brochure.

Genny finds herself unexpectedly pulled into the vampire politics when a vampire is accused of murder and his father makes a plea to Gen to find out if magic is involved. The clues were few and far between for my liking. I would have preferred to see Genny actively earning the clues herself. But otherwise, I found Genny to be a smart and capable kick-ass heroine.

What I found most enjoyable was all the faerie lore sprinkled throughout the story: Genny’s primary love interest is a satyr, the police detective is a solid granite troll, gangs of goblins patrol the streets for vamps behaving badly. I loved it all and wanted more.

THE SWEET SCENT OF BLOOD is a sweet cracker of a book. It’s easily one of the most unique worlds I’ve encountered along with some of the best action scenes. Looking forward to more in this series.

Rating: A-
Series: Spellcrackers.com, book 1
Publisher: Gollancz/Orion, September 2008
Acquired: author

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