Review: Kristen Painter’s Out for Blood

Posted October 25, 2012 by Karen in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

by Kristen Painter
Also by this author: , House of the Rising Sun, City of Eternal Night, Garden of Dreams and Desires, The Vampire's Mail Order Bride

Title: Out for Blood
Author: Kristen Painter
Genre: Urban Paranormal Fantasy
Grade/Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Out for Blood is the fourth book in the House of Comarrè series written by Kristen Painter, a paranormal and urban fantasy author. It should be noted that a novella is also included in the series. I was first introduced to the writing of Ms. Painter by way of Twitter. A paranormal author that I follow, Jeannie Frost, who writes the Red Reaper series tweeted that she was reading Ms. Painter after hearing her give a reading at the Authors After Dark convention in New Orleans, L.A. I ended up heading over to Amazon and purchased the first book in the series, Blood Rights. I was a quarter through that book when I purchased the remainder of the series.

In that first book, Blood Rights, you are introduced to a world that Painter builds. It’s in the not too distant future, a future that is not that far removed from our very present. This enables the reader to slide right into the world of the Comarrè, a race of both women and men who are bred to provide their superior blood as food for vampire nobles. They have been bred and trained to serve the noble vampire needs, whom they call patrons. Enormous sums of money are paid to acquire these unique individuals for their blood. What this money is used for remains a mystery, as the Comarrè appear to no more than blood slaves, well taken care of slaves but slaves none the less. Their skin has been gilded with sacred gold tattoos called signum that purifies the blood further and has magical properties. Their blood is so unique it can make a dead vampire’s body come alive for a brief time. The exchange is not without benefits to the Comarrè as it extends their lives, youth and increases their strength. A Comarrè because of this exchange of saliva can live almost forever.

In the world that Painter builds, the reader finds out that not all vampire are created equal, some are nobles (comprising five houses), some are fringe (those born of non noble blood lines) remnant (little more than animal) and anathema (those who walked away from their noble lives or were cast out). The world is also inhabited by fae, varcolai (animal shape shifters) and a whole host of otherworldly individuals all living in society unbeknownst to regular humans. The humans that actually know about the otherworldly species are called kine, they live to provide domestic help for the vampires.

The reader is plunged into this world with the heroine Comarrè Chysabelle, a anathema vampire Malkolm, a varcolai Maddox, Fiona a ghost, Creek a Kubai Mati (a secret society supposed to protect humanity) member and a host of secondary characters. Painter did an excellent job of keeping this reader on the edge of her seat. In Painter’s world you hit the ground running, these are not stand alone books and I like she doesn’t spend time going over plot points covered in the previous books. In Out for Blood the book picks up right where the previous book Bad Blood ended.

The action begins in New Florida 2067, with Mal and Chysabelle in bed. Now don’t get too excited, remember she had just been killed by the Aurelian and revived by the ring of sorrows magic. I would say that is a handy piece of magic to have had stitched into ones back. Of course Chrysabelle being the stubborn heroine we have all come to love doesn’t want to hear what Mal has to say on the matter of her supposed death, and ends up throwing him out. Of course nothing is ever simple for Mal and Chrysabelle, as the last three books have demonstrated. This is what I like about Painter’s writing the action comes at the reader, and you might think you are being led one way and bam she turns you in a completely different direction. I admire Chrysabelle, her stubborn streak may complicate her life, but it makes for a strong heroine that isn’t going to back down. When she makes a decision she commits herself totally to that avenue. She may have to be saved a time or two, but she is just as capable of gutting someone as kissing them. How Chrysabelle was able to hide such a dominate personality in the guise of a submissive Comarrè for 115 years, shows the strength of the Comarrè’s secret training. She is still learning how to live outside of the Comarrè society she was bred into, and dealing with her driving need to find her brother. The ramifications of the gold from the ring of sorrows being stitched into her flesh further complicates an already full life. To have sacrificed her life for the greater good for 115 years and to continue to sacrifice for the greater good is starting to wear on Chrysabelle. When will it be her time to live, love and treasure life?

I am also deeply in love with the complex man Mal is, not only is he a vampire but he is living under two curses. The first cure was placed because he killed his sire, the vampire who killed his family and turned him. You see poor Mal can’t just take a sip or two of blood, his original curse is that he has to drain everyone he drinks from, so for 450 odd years he was a killing machine. The second curse was placed on him by his vengeful vampire wife and fellow vampires to contain his blood lust. The second curse is that the poor guy has to live with every soul of every being he has ever killed living inside him, tormenting him and driving him to kill again. He was also locked in a dungeon and allowed to desiccate, into a husk but still alive. It’s bad enough he was shunned as a human because he was an executioner, but even as a vampire he became a monster amongst monsters. It may have driven him a little insane, but that would just be rude to point out. He hasn’t killed or drank from the vein in over fifty years, his last victim is the ever present ghost Fiona, the poor graduate student and last of Mal’s victims. He discovered when he killed her, the second curse kicked in, and she manifested not just as a voice in his head, but also as your friendly neighborhood Casper, possible not friendly from the start, but Fiona has come to care greatly about her killer. As beautiful as Chrysabelle gold tattoos are on her alabaster skin, each one of Mal’s victims is emblazoned on his flesh. Despite his past or because of it Mal is a good man, with a heart that may not beat, but has been captured by Chyrsabelle. He feels enormous guilt over what happened to Chysabelle as a result of paying her debt to him. Mal is on of the most complex male characters that I have had the pleasure to read. Meeting Chyrsabelle has changed him for the better.

Painter doesn’t tell just one story in her books, she has multiple threads going on inside the main one of the adventures of Mal and Chrysabelle. Chrysabelle has to discover who she is now, and what Mal truly means to her. Painter weaves a thrilling tapestry amongst the characters plots, where the reader is taken on very thought provoking adventure. The evil Tatiana has her hands full with being Dominus and with baby Lilith. I was thrilled to get a larger view into the world of the nobles. I was also surprised to like Tatiana in the interaction she had with Lilith and Octavian. Doc (Maddox) is pride leader of the feline varcolai, the position came with an inherited wife and Fiona is out in the cold. The varcolai who were just touched upon in prior books have become an entire group that the reader gets to explore. Creek has his problems with the Kubai Mati, Yahla the soulless woman, and city hall. Creek has to come to terms as to what he has gotten himself into, plus dealing with the recovery of Paradise City from Samhain.. The reader also gets plenty of my two favorite secondary characters Mortalis the shaduex fae, along with Velimai the wysper fae. It all makes for one fantastic adventure. There are enough twist and turns to keep any urban fantasy paranormal fan on the roller coaster ride which is the House of Comarrè. The plot also deals with the politics of regular humans knowing that the monsters of their nightmares are real and the fall out of the covenant being broken. I would highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait for more adventures from Painter, and her cast of characters.

About Kristen Painter

When the characters in Kristen Painter’s head started to take over, she decided to put them on paper and share them with the world. She writes paranormal romance and the gothic fantasy vampire series, House of Comarre, for Orbit Books. She has also been published in non-fiction, poetry and short stories. The former college English teacher can often be found online at Romance Divas, the award-winning writers’ forum she co-founded. She’s represented by Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.

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