29th Oct2011

Book Review: ‘Hellbent’ – by Cherie Priest

by Paul Metcalf

When we left Cherie Priest’s Bloodshot there were a few questions to be answered. Of course mentioning them would be potential spoilers but it’s fair to say that I was hopeful that Hellbent the next book in the Raylene Pendle story would answer a few. I’d say it answered at least one but offered even more to what was already quite a rich Vampire world.

Raylene is a complicated Vampire. She prefers to shun other vampires who belong to the “houses” which are in essence groups of Vampires that live in families and fight for power. It’s a highly political world where assassination is a way to move up in importance and popularity. This is one of the issues Raylene finds herself involved in in Hellbent. Ian, a blind Vampire who was introduced to us in the first book is contacted by his old house. As he is high up in the family hierarchy he is required to go back to San Francisco when the head of his family dies in strange circumstances. This creates a power vacuum which must be filled and Ian is the next in line. The problem is Ian is blind and a blind Vampire is a weak Vampire. Going back to his old house would lead to certain doom which is something Raylene will not accept. She talks Ian into letting her try to sort out the mess, but this is not her only job this time.

Raylene is a thief, and a damn good one. This is why when one of her client’s needs to come into possession of some bones she is called upon to retrieve them for him. These bones of course are not just your normal bones; these are in fact penis bones of magical creatures which are very potent in the magical world as they amplify the power of spells. Raylene agrees to go in search of the penis bones and finds herself in competition with a very dangerous witch, one that has mental issues and requires the bones for her magic. This leads to a battle of wits as Raylene and her drag queen Navy Seal friend Adrian have to fight against the witch to capture the bones before she has a chance to use them all.

As you may have guessed the Raylene Pendle books are not your average Vampire tales. For me this is a very good thing as we need some variety in vampire fiction right now, people need to be woken up to the fact that Vampires are not only emotionally stunted pale sparkly teenagers who spend most of their time whining about being Vampires than actually letting go and tasting some blood. Raylene loves her blood, when she needs to feed she will feed no matter what she has to do. She doesn’t spend too much attention to emotion; she just lives her life as she sees fit and in the end why not? She’s a Vampire. Hell enjoy your powers don’t waste them fighting against who you are. She uses her powers to make her life comfortable and to look after her friends and in the end that makes her a likable character and one that you end up caring about.

One important thing about this book is the friendships Raylene has. We were introduced to them in the first book and in this one they are solidified into almost a family type setting. In the first book Raylene was quite disconnected from life and spent the most time caring for herself than anything. In this book we find her caring about people and making sure they are ok, this even shapes the conclusion of the book which will be obviously important for future books as important decisions are revelations are made.

One thing I’m sure of with this book series is that there will be more. Raylene Pendle is a strong character who has more stories to tell, it’s obvious she as a character can be put into quite a few scenarios both supernatural and human and it will make for a good story. I know I’m looking forward to reading the next book when it comes to find out what is next for not only her but her little family.


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