In the stunning follow up to The Secrets of Life and Death, Rebecca Alexander has created a gripping supernatural thriller that bridges time, legend and the power of blood.
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.
The Secrets of Blood and Bone by Rebecca Alexander is a historical paranormal novel in the style of The Historian and A Discovery of Witches. Unfortunately, the similarities end there as Blood and Bone does not deliver a particularly well written or engaging story.
Told in first person point of view by both Jack, the rather emotionally perplexed heroine, and Edward Kelley, a 16th-century alchemist/occultist portrayed here as a rather bumbling magician. The novel meanders rather disjointedly through Europe and New Orleans as the handful of characters endeavor to unravel a knot of mysteries surrounding the secret to eternal life.
The Secrets of Blood and Bone is the sequel to Alexander’s novel, The Secrets of Life and Death, and would be better served as a novella. The novel feels stretched out and rather thin in places with a few storylines altogether superfluous (Gina) The main characters would benefit from further development. They feel chaste and stoic to the point of being robotic. The sense of urgency heavily featured as a driving force in the plot is underdeveloped and woefully open ended. The link between the stories of Kelley and Jack is rather oblique. Frankly, at times the Kelley chapters are more interesting even if Kelley is rather meek and sycophantic; they offer greater action and a number of interesting dynamic characters.
The book ends rather abruptly and unsatisfactorily but surely in a way that allows for another installment in this insipid storyline. Perhaps some of the characters are sketchy because they will be further developed in the next novel (Callum)?
I have not read the first book and wonder if a lot of the holes in the story were because I lacked that foundation. The illnesses in the book were never quite clear to me with many words used repeatedly but almost interchangeably which lead to much confusion on my part (in example revenant, borrowed timer, ascended; skin walker, werewolf, lion; demon and angel). Perhaps the novel suffers from sophomore slump, the dreaded flaccidity that often follows the success of a first novel? Frankly, if the author had chosen to expand the storyline for either the character of Ellen or Thomazine and instead offered their point of view as the contrast for Jack and company, the novel would have been much more interesting. Clearly Alexander has writing skills but lacks confidence choosing to rely heavily on a series of second-tier historical personas rather than fully develop an intriguing character development of her own creation. Really – the characters of Merinello and Konrad are much more interesting than Bathory.
Bottom Line: I highly suggest that this novel be reworked. If you are looking for a historical paranormal novel I recommend you read The All Souls Trilogy instead.
Disclaimer: I received this novel gratis in exchange for an honest review (and will probably never be asked to review by this PR group again).