Blood Bathory: Like the Night (Colin’s Review)

Title: Blood Bathory: Like the Night (The Guardians of Gaia #1)
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: April 9, 2018
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Page Count: 348 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5


Evan St. John, a young fashion photographer running from the pain caused by the death of his younger sister, is thrilled when he is offered a job with House of Nadasdy, a leading fashion house in Paris. What he doesn’t know is that Elizabeth Nadasdy, the elegant and powerful owner, is a centuries-old vampire with a penchant for collecting beautiful people. To Evan’s horror, he is turned into one of her “children.”

Unable to bear what he has become, Evan flees to New York and to his best friend, police officer Will Trask. For years, Evan has nursed an unrequited love for Will, but he also knows Will is the one person who might be able to help him. As Evan and Will try to deal with Evan’s condition, they are drawn into the world of the theriomorphs: shape-shifters who are guardians of life and the sworn enemies of vampires. Caught in an ancient war between two powerful supernatural forces, Evan and Will find they must choose sides – because if they are to have any chance of a future together, they must destroy Elizabeth Nadasdy before she destroys them.

This was a hard read but not because of the story. The plot was quite well structured and there was a clear progression from scene to scene and there was internal coherence. The concept of a love between shifter and vampire is not new but the context is interesting. What makes this book difficult is the writing. The most noticeable thing is the excessive use of names. Whilst it is acknowledged that overuse of first-person pronouns can be confusing, the opposite can be equally frustrating. Much of the early part of the book is about the developing relationship between the two lead characters. Unfortunately this became quite repetitive in its approach and used a much-used trope where each character misunderstands the other’s intentions and they circle around each other being pleasant. The characters are fleshed out but offer little with which the reader can empathise or become attached to.

As for the intimate relationship between the two lead characters, sex is dealt with, but there is no real passion. The description is quite sparse and certainly the description of first anal intercourse is physically unlikely. There is a vague idea as to what happens but it seems to lack a full grasp beyond the mechanics. At one point I thought perhaps this was aimed at a younger audience and so tended towards fade to black, but this is not the case and in fact presents unprotected sex with a virgin with the same lightness as being offered a new exciting flavour of ice cream. In line with much young adult literature, there would normally be a moral message underlying the text, but the issues are not even considered. Admittedly this is supposed to be sex between a vampire and a shapeshifter and this might provide some measure of immunity due to their natural resistance, but this is an assumption, as it is not discussed. It is therefore difficult to judge the expected audience of the book.

There is a steady pace throughout the story with a reasonable amount of variation in both location and issue, but nothing much happens that provides tension until towards the end. Here there is some attempt to provide a climax to the book. However, the writing style lacks the necessary tightness that would have raised the tale to a different level. Sadly the other frustrations with the writing remain foremost in the mind of the reader and it is quite hard to get into the swing of things.

By the end of the book this reader had had enough, but there is more to come with the sequel. The storyline ends on a positive note but there are clearly issues outstanding that require further development.

Guardians of Gaia

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Galley copy of Blood Bathory: Like the Night (The Guardians of Gaia #1) provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.