The Secrets of Blood and Bone by Rebecca Alexander is the second book in the ‘Jackdaw Hammond Series’ and that makes it tough to review.
In order to effectively review this book, I snagged a copy of the first one (The Secrets of Life and Death) for my Kindle app and speed read before Blood and Bone arrived at my doorstep.
This book took forever to get through, because I just got so bogged down with SCHOOL and LIFE and STUFF and it honestly has sucked pretty hard for the past ten weeks but I finally finished this book and my term.
The basic plot of the series is: Jackdaw “Jack” Hammond (who is a lady) was saved from death as a pre-teen by a woman named Maggie, who is a witch. Maggie needed Jack’s reanimated blood to save her daughter Charley from leukemia, and now everyone is all grown up and Jack mostly keeps to herself with her dog (Ches) doing some small-time magical wheeling and dealing. Along the way she saves a young girl named Sadie through the same reanimation magic, meets a professor named Felix, and gets loosely embroiled with some members of the modern day incarnation of the Spanish Inquisition. In between the main characters’ shenanigans the reader is treated to fictionalized letters of real-life figures Edward Kelley and John Dee as they deal with famous serial killer Erzsebet Bathory (who in the book is also a “borrowed-timer/revenant”).
I’m going to try to write this review without spoiling either book for you, but that might prove tricky so be forewarned.
Onto The Secrets of Blood and Bone specifically:
“following her showdown with Elizabeth Bathory, Jackdaw Hammond is running from her past, hiding from her future, and hoping to contain her newfound thirst for blood. Buying an overgrown home in the middle of nowhere seems like the perfect place to escape…at least until she finds herself in the sights of a murderous family with a terrible secret and a penchant for dark magic. Meanwhile, her old ally Felix Guichard has gone to New Orleans to conduct his own investigation into the nature of blood magic, but is soon sucked into the intrigues of the city’s occult underworld. But Jack will need Felix more than she knows, for the battle for her soul is set to begin.
Her only salvation may lie with the secrets of 16th century master occultist Edward Kelley, and a dangerous mission he undertook in Venice to confront the Inquisition, the darkest deeds of his own past, and the fearsome power of Elizabeth Bathory.”
There’s a big problem with this synopsis, though: most of it doesn’t really seem to happen in this book. Felix makes a quick trip to NOLA and introduces some new characters, but they’re forgotten pretty quickly. The crux of the plot is a murder mystery involving the “murderous family with a terrible secret” but there’s not really any mystery in it. The flashbacks to Edward Kelley in Venice culminate in an important reveal but are a mostly boring parallel that seems shoehorned in with the main plot. This book really seemed like it was just setting the stage for the other book (books?) in the series but didn’t do much on its own. The plot didn’t feel really cohesive and it didn’t have the best pacing. I appreciate a series that is working for a grander design and not just throwing out one-offs with familiar characters, but Blood and Bone didn’t seem to really succeed at either.
This book arrived at the same time as I got my copies of Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams
and Seanan McGuire’s A Red Rose Chain
, the two other urban fantasy/paranormal series that I follow. I was (am) so excited to read those books and don’t know which I want to start first! I also know that unless Bray and McGuire really fuck up everything they’ve established and all my good will towards their work, I’ll be looking forward to the next installment in the series. Alexander’s work is not bad, it just doesn’t stand out to me as memorable or compelling and unless book 3 shows up on Blogging for Books at exactly the right time, I probably won’t read it.