A MelanieM Review: Like the Night (Blood Bathory #1) by Ari McKay

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Rating: 4 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.

Like the Night by Ari McKay is the first in the new Blood Bathory series the authors are creating.  And what a series it looks to be.  Starting out with the historic Elizabeth Bathory herself as the sublimely evil ancient vampire at the core of all misery here, McKay builds the universe out to include an ongoing war with Gaia herself and her soldiers, the theriomorphs against the vampires who would rule.  Caught in the middle are Evan St. John, a vampire turned against his will, and Will, a human police officer and Evan’s best friend who is about to find out that the world is much stranger than he ever believed.

The author gives us multiple points of view which works here to let us know how many people actually have their own agendas in this battle for conquest.  Hint, it’s not just the main characters.  So many manipulations going on here, so many secondary threads that will, of course, become major ones later on.

The romance between Evan and Will is one that needs major communication to move forward as well as some false (and hilarious) assumptions to be swept aside.  I liked the heat between them and they worked great as a couple.  One caveat is that Evan comes across as too much of the “weak pretty boy” here for someone who is a vampire.  He has one scene where he shows his vampire strength and the  rest of the time I feel that’s wasted making the theriomorphs look badass to his detriment.  Why not both?  Not using a vampire’s assets throws away a valuable weapon imo here.

Back to the theriomorphs and Gaia.  I absolutely love this element.  I hope its explored even more closely in the upcoming stories as the battle continues.

There are many great secondary characters, on both sides mind you.  I can’t wait to see what the next installment will bring.

If you love the supernatural, romance, vampires and shapeshifters, you can’t go wrong with Like the Night (Blood Bathory #1) by Ari McKay.  I highly recommend it for the great world building, wonderful characters, and a plot that grabs a hold of you right until the end.

Cover art: Lou Harper.  I like the cover but it’s not terribly representative of the characters, Evan is blond.

Sales Links: Universal Buy Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 352 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by Independent (first published July 2nd 2013)
Original TitleBlood Bathory: Like the Night
ASINB07BFMZ8L9
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBlood Bathory #1

A MelanieM PreRelease Review: Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.

However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.

I just loved everything about Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.  Here is a fantasy novel where the author managed to combine  some very dark and realistic elements like PTSD, the horror of torture , the  effects of long term prisoner captivity under the worse conditions, with that prisoner’s recovery and love.    That the prisoner is an Ursinae or bear shifter, the one to save and help him recover a mage and brother to a king, and that some of the methods used include magic?  In the hands of author Alex Whitehall, that seems normal.  Whitehall seamlessly blends modern methods for dealing with PTSD and the magical to come up with a unique combination of spells and universe for this story that entranced me.

The Ursinae had their own magic as do the Kingdoms themselves.  I could cheerfully dwell in this land for many books, hoping to learn more not just about Veier’s shifter history but all the neighboring Kingdoms across the lands.  If they are half as fascinating as the ones that Whitehall created for the ones we got to know here, I’m all in for as many stories as the author wants to tell.

These characters were amazing!  They were so well rounded and pulled so many emotions from me in their journey to  helping Veier recover from his heinous imprisonment and the scars he now carries inside and out.  As it should be, his recovery is painful, slow, full of anger and fear.  And the reader is on this agonizing path with Veier every step of the way. So is Elrid, the mage who sees the tragedy in Veier’s fate if he can’t be helped and the man fighting to regain who he was.  I was so absorbed in Veier’s tale I totally forgot what time it was and read into the early hours.

There are other equally important storylines flowing here.  Unrest in a kingdom slow to accept new rulers, people hesitant or afraid of the shifter among them, a man eager to go home again and afraid of what he would find…all these narrative threads are carried through, their importance to the overall plot arc handled beautifully, never impeding or overtaking the main plotlines but adding interest to them,  like spice does to a great meal.

But the heart and center here is Veier and Elrid and what a story that is.  It’s heartwarming, sometimes heartstopping, and always rewarding.   This is one for my “happy shelf”, when I need a book to pull out to put a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart.    How I loved this couple.  I think you will too.  I highly recommend Magic Runs Deep by Alex Whitehall.

Cover art:  Shayne Leighton.  I like the cover, has some very nice elements on it, including the character of Veier.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

book, 183 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleMagic Runs Deep
ISBN 1626497478 (ISBN13: 9781626497474)
Edition LanguageEnglish