Title: Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun (The Guardians of Gaia #2)
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: June 4th 2018 (first published July 2nd 2014)
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 278 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Tyger tyger, burning bright…
As theriomorphs in the service of Gaia, Tyr Gustavson and his lover Aaron fought against the vampires aiding the Third Reich during WWII. But even the fierceness of Tyr’s tiger form couldn’t save Aaron from being torn apart when a mission went horribly wrong. Lost in his pain, Tyr remained feral until he was unwillingly recalled to Gaia’s service seventy years later.
In the forests of the night…
When fighter pilot Adam Carson’s plane was shot down, he thought the worst that could happen was being sent to a Nazi prison camp. Little did he know there were other monsters in the shadows, and one of them wanted to claim him. But refusing Elizabeth Bathory had a price. Adam was turned against his will and trapped in a coffin as punishment for his resistance.
What immortal hand or eye…
While hunting ghouls, Tyr and his colleagues discover Adam’s prison. Believing he could be an asset, Marielle Du Lac frees him. Adam joins the team and is drawn to Tyr, despite Tyr’s hatred of vampires. When Tyr rejects Adam out of fear, Adam accepts a suicidal mission to find Thrace, the original nosferatu. If their desperate plan works, the theriomorphs could destroy not only Elizabeth, but the sire of all vampires as well. But if it fails, they could unleash a force leading to the destruction of them all… and perhaps of Gaia herself.
If you liked the first book in the series then you should like this one. If you didn’t, then what you are going to get is more of the same but with variations on a theme. The plot is developed from the preceding story and certainly there is considerably more going on here and there is some use of tension. The characters jump from location to location and there is some attempt to provide context, but there is little detail beyond the focus of the story and could really be anywhere in most scenes. The focus of the story is on two new characters. These are supposed to be much older than those in the first book, having been in their personal state of limbo since the Second World War. As with the earlier story one is a vampire turned against his will whilst the other is a shifter brought back from his animal form. They pussyfoot around each other for much of the book and certain aspects of the plot result from this. They interact with characters from the first book that takes a secondary role here. The primary link is the vampire from the first book who makes a point of being the most irritating character that I have read for a long while. Not only was he frustrating in the first book but here he sticks his nose into other people’s business first on one side of an argument and then on another. His presence causes more tension than is eases and yet everyone in the cast believes him to be such a good person. Another area of frustration with the story is that whilst there is acknowledgement that there is a disjoint between the central character’s experience and the modern world they seem to have familiarity with clothing, driving and general behaviour that is out of keeping with the period.
As noted, the relationship between the two central characters is largely one of misunderstanding versus attraction that is not recognised. As this type of relationship is so very similar to the first book, when it is ultimately consummated the reader is not that engaged with them from an empathetic point of view. The sex here is slightly more realistic than the first book but no more interesting or explicit, as such it might just as well have faded to black.
The stronger plot does provide for more variety and action sequences. There is subterfuge, fights and loss but with each a scenario is presented, reflected upon and then put aside. As the characters do not seem to be invested in anything in particular so the book relies on the storyline to move things forward. There is a steady pace throughout, but insufficient tension to hold the attention. As such, as a book, it is easy to put down.
I suppose it was wishful thinking that this book would resolve all issues and neatly answer all questions. As it is, there will clearly be another book in the series since core themes remain unresolved.