Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review of Out for Blood (House of Comarré #4) by Kristen Painter

Once again, Painter has many story lines on the go, though as far as I am concerned, not all of them are relevant.  After nearly dying, Chrysabelle has decided to move away from her past as a
comarré.  Her main objective is now to find her brother at all costs.  Doc is the new alpha of his pack but unfortunately, the position comes with a wife, which means problems in his relationship with Fi. The Kubai Mati are not pleased with Creek and he has to deal with Yahla (the woman without a soul) and a mayor with plans of her own about how to deal with the supernatural elements.

With all of the things going on in Painter's story, she manages to keep it all focused. For me, the largest issue is the storyline with Creek.  It seems that Painter tries to give him things to do as a way to justify his character but he is always in the background and for most of the time, he feels like a distraction. Creek either needs to better integrated in Doc/Fi or Chrysabelle/Mal's storyline, or dropped altogether in my opinion. This character seems to be struggling for a place now that Painter has brought and end to the love triangle between Creek, Chrysablle and Mal.

 Now that Doc is finally able to shapeshift, you would think that things would go well for him but finding out that he now has to marry the former Alpha's wife, puts a real crimp in his relationship with Fi.  Though we know he is very upset, he doesn't exactly go out of his way to assure Fi that he is going to make things right, or reassure her of his feelings.  It's Fi who takes the initiative and decides to fight to death for the right to marry Doc. One of the problems with this is that Doc's new mate is a woman of colour and typically she is cast as evil. Thus far in the series, there hasn't been one positive portrayal of a woman of colour and this is of course cast against Chrysabelle's epic Whiteness. Chrysabelle is meant to represent the height of womanhood and we are told repeatedly about the Whiteness of her skin and her long flowing blond hair. Clearly, this is a model that excludes all women of colour.

Tatiana is extremely happy with baby Lilith and the status and power she has gained from being her guardian.  Lilith is special because she is part vampire and part human and as the very first hybrid, has powers they are just beginning to understand.  Some of the attraction for Tatiana is the increase in power and certainly some of it is the fact that she views Lilith as a replacement for the daughter that she lost.  This introduces us to a softer side to Tatiana, who seems to generally want the best of everything for her adopted daughter. I worry how Tatiana's motherhood is going to be constructed when juxtaposed to Chrysabelle's.

Lola has emerged in this book from shadows.  She is clearly out of her depth now that it is widely known that humans share the world with supernatural creatures.  Lola makes the ridiculous decision to instate a curfew and this obviously effects the supes and nearly brings about the death of Mal in a very intense scene.  Lola has also determined that no matter what, she will retrieve her granddaughter.  She tries to get both Mal and Dominic to change her but they both refuse. In the end, she manages to get Dominic's nephew to agree to make her vampire. This decision makes absolutely no sense to me at all.  Everything Lola did in this book, ruined her relationship with the supernaturals on her staff and in fact, reduced the chances of her getting custody of Lola.  It seemed very much counter to her stated goals. 

In terms of Mal, I am sick of the whole tortured vampire with a heart of gold.  Yes, he was hit with a curse, which forces him to hear the voices of all of those he has killed but let's be clear, he is not a good man.  This is yet another series wherein the reader is expected to see a serial killer as a good person and it simply just does not work for me.  There really shouldn't be any grey in a situation in which someone kills so many people and yet we are meant to rote for his relationship with Chyrsabelle, as though her perfect Whiteness (note:Whiteness is meant to be seen as a metaphor for innocence.)  can redeem him.  Chrysabelle is so pure that up until this book, she was actually a virgin. Could Painter have laid this on any thicker? Heaven forbid that we have a vampire story without a vampire being moody, filled with regret for his unforgivable actions and of course, a gently used protagonist.

 Chyrsabelle continues to be irritating.  She has made such a big deal about finding her family but the moment she has the opportunity to get with Mal, all is forgotten. So much for sticking with a goal.  We get that she has decided on Mal over Creek, but why does it have to be Mal above all else, given what she knows about him?  Not only does Chrysabelle toss her brother to the curb, when she ends up being pregnant by Mal (yeah, the serial killer vampire) she is actually thrilled by it. With that went the last hope of any possible respect I could have had for this character.

Apparently, the next book is meant to be the last in this series.  Painter is going to be hard pressed to include a happy ending for all of her characters, given the way she has directed the story thus far and I actually like that. Not everything has to be wrapped in a tidy little bow.  I will say that Out for Blood did have several plot twists that I didn't see coming and that despite the irritating nature of some of the characters, kept me interested.  I do however think that wherever this story goes that the ending will be epic and that alone is worth putting up with some irritation along the way.