Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Blood Rights (House of Comarré)

When I was still working for the local newspaper, my editor mentioned one day that he was surprised and impressed that I took a chance on so many new authors.  It’s true that it would be very easy to stick only with authors that I’m familiar with.  I find, however, that experimenting with writers just entering the genre can be a rewarding experience, and I was greatly rewarded by Kristen Painter’s first novel, Blood Rights.

(Description nicked from B&

“Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré — a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.

Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign.”

Hallelujah, I’ve found a paranormal fantasy that didn’t jump straight into a romance!  While there are certainly indications that it could eventually end up that way, I really admire the author for not going there immediately.  This restraint lets Painter concentrate on worldbuilding and on establishing her characters as individuals.

Speaking of those characters, each one is well rounded, and they leap off the page to engage the reader.  I especially liked Malkolm.  His history is woven throughout the tale and informs everything that he does.  He is a tortured character, but one of great strength.  Chrysabelle is similarly strong, although facing different challenges.  They both became so real that I found myself wanting to have conversations with them, as I have with other favorite characters in other books.

The world they inhabit is rich and complex.  It is set in the near future of our own world, but with the inclusion of vampires, shifters, ghosts and other supernatural beings.  It supposes that mortals are unaware of what lives alongside them and that their world thrives in ways that we can’t imagine.  The hierarchies of vampires, the culture of comars and comarres, and the rituals and institutions of the othernaturals all spring to vivid life.

By the end of the book, quite a lot has changed, and a few characters have even lost their lives.  It’s plain to see that Painter intends to pull no punches in her series.  This is the kind of plot that most paranormal fantasies attempt but don’t achieve—it successfully walks that fine line between edgy and brutal, and it delivers a story of great power.

Blood Rights is one of the best fantasy novels that I’ve read this year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two.  Kristen Painter has created memorable characters, a vivid world, and an entertaining tale that is sure to please a wide range of readers.  Look for this one on the shelves as soon as you can and get lost in this most excellent story.

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 20, 2011.

Series: House of Comarre
ISBN: 9780316084772
Publisher: Orbit
Page Count: 432
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-book through NetGalley
Author Website
Read an excerpt