Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney

Blood Oranges* *

Blood Oranges

Kathleen Tierney

Spoiler Free (Goodreads version)

This, to put it bluntly, not your typical teenaged-protagnist vampire or werewolf story.

In the wrong spot at the right time – or vice versa – Quinn gets mistaken for a demon-hunter, and finds herself catapulted into the supernatural world. Eventually, her lack of skills and her drug habit catch up with her, and she finds herself bitten by a werewolf. Before the wolf can devour her like Little Red’s grandma, he’s killed by a vampire. This vampire tells Quinn that she wants her for revenge and to use her as a weapon before she turns her, creating a werepire. The book quickly dissolves into a mystery as Quinn attempts to discover the what’s and why’s of her change, and ultimately, who set her up to get attacked.

Is it a parody? It certainty makes fun of the vampire tropes going around right now, and makes several mentions of certain sparkling vampires. However, those feel more like jibes, and the book doesn’t feel like a parody so much as a refute to those tropes. Something written in response to them, but not in an intentionally funny way. So it is a parody? I don’t know. I think my inability to define it is probably why I had such trouble with it as a story, I never knew if it was supposed to be serious or if it was mocking.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Quinn, our main POV character is writing the story from sometime in the future, which I don’t think gets enough empathizes in other reviews. The problem with this for me was that ultimately, we knew she would survive. If she still had a potential ‘death’ left, be it to turn into a vamp or such, perhaps it would have worked better. But lacking that, I found it took much of the tension out of the story.

She is also – as both she and Tierney warn – not that good of a writer. And this is true. She skips over the action scenes, claiming their clunky and pointless when on the written page. When Quinn does werewolf out, she blacks out. Admittedly, the gore would probably have been redundant after one example, but I digress. This makes the book again lack tension, which I found to be one of the larger problems with it.

Now, how much of all of this is intentional on the authors part, or just a writing style that doesn’t jive with me is debatable. Quinn is portrayed as a tough girl, a girl who grew up on the streets, and the writing reflects that. She doesn’t break. As sad as it may sound, there was never a moment I felt I connected with her, or even empathized with her. Whether that was Quinn/Tierney’s plan or not doesn’t really change the fact that without the empathy, I couldn’t be bothered to care what happened to her.

But beyond the clunky writing there are some interesting characters that I wanted to know more about. Her demon whore friend: Clemency Hate-evill. Even with a name like that, she manages to be interesting, though I wish we could have gone a little deeper into their relationship. She gives Quinn her only kiss in the entire book and some vital advice. My favourite character – for I will always fall prey to the greased-up sleazy bastards whose purred words set my soul alight with hell fire – had to be Mean Mr. B. Forever nameless and constantly changing his nom de plume, Mean Mr. B fits right into the world, wheeling and dealing with the best of them.

Quinn had the potential to be interesting, but as the main character, and the POV character to boot, she doesn’t get the same pass that the side characters do. They’re allowed to be a one note whore with a heart of gold or a smarmy bastard, especially for the screen time they get and the filtering through Quinn’s POV. We sit inside Quinn’s head looking back, and we don’t even get to see her struggle with her changing body, how her werepirism affects her or even the killing of humans. I know she’s supposed to be a cold demon-hunter, but that’s an act.

By the end I was flipping through pages, and I found it frustrating that the ending seemed so easy. If your character tells you straight up that what she’s about to say sounds like a deus ex machina, it probably is. The book is a standalone, but it leaves several threads loose, but honestly, by the end, I didn’t care.

A quick note on the LGBT content before I wrap this too long post up. No mention is made anywhere on Quinn’s sexual orientation (nor do I think it’s something that’s worth posting warning or making a big deal about). I was surprised by it, and it lasted through out the book, and not once did it get her in trouble nor did the universe dump a load of crap on her head for it. A big thumbs up for that. Though I don’t understand why she felt the need to introduce Mean Mr. B as a faggot when she shares the female counterpart to his sexuality?

Either way, there are some good parts, some not so good parts, and some clunky writing. If you enjoy characters ‘writing’ the novel in their voice, or general pulp fiction, this may be for you. If you’re like me, and enjoy smarmy bastards, it’s got some parts for you. If you like fight scenes or emotionally connection to the characters, it’s probably not for you. Personally, it wasn’t in my taste, but for each their own, and I’m sure this book will float somebodies boat.

Two stars for containing but not demonizing LGBT content (worth a star in these days and ages), that title (yum) and Mean. Mr. B.

The sequel may be in my future, but only if it contains more of Mean. Mr. B.


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