The Sweet Scent of Blood (Spellcrackers #1) by Suzanne McLeod
When Mr October, a sexy calendar pin-up vamp, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, an old debt is called in and Genny is forced to help prove his innocence, risking her job and the protection it offers – and threatening to expose her own dark secrets. Searching for the killer plunges Genny deep into the hidden heart of vampire society. It’s not long before she realises that she and Mr October are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle between London’s non-human communities . . . and it’s not just her own neck that’s at stake, but the lives of all London’s supernaturals.
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I bought The Sweet Scent of Blood based on two things: an intriguing blurb on the back of the book and an endorsement from Charlaine Harris, whose Sookie Stackhouse books I adore. (Haven’t tried her non-Sookie stuff yet.) I’m happy to report that it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Genny’s an interesting and complex protagonist, something I love in my stories. Her heritage makes her a social pariah — half fae, half vampire — and she doesn’t have many friends. She does her best to avoid vampires and to deal with her 3V issue (basically she wants the buzz from drinking blood but is afraid to give in), but an old debt forces her to face her demons. Her magical powers are also really neat, since she can crack spells, as the series title indicates. It’s something I found really original and I thought Suzanne McLeod did a great job of describing how it works and what it feels like for Genny.
I also enjoyed the various male leads in the story. Each of them was very individual and all of them had murky motives. Makes for a juicy story. I won’t write too much about this part of the book since a lot of the character development happens once you’re well into the book, and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I will say that I was constantly surprised by what happened in The Sweet Scent of Blood. There’s a lot of plot in the novel, with lots of changes in direction, and it makes the story compelling and had me totally hooked.
Suzanne McLeod does a great job of explaining her world without lengthy paragraphs of exposition. I love how she drops nuggets in here and there, in a way that gives you all the information you need (but not necessarily as much as you might want), and that she does it in a very organic way. I think it’s hard to do this well, particularly when you write in first person, but Suzanne McLeod’s done a great job.
I’d also like to say that I really like the cover. It reminds me of Vicki Pettersson‘s first three covers in terms of the overall design, though it’s very clearly a different artist. I think that the cover does a great job of capturing Genny’s otherness; the model looks just like I pictured Genny in my head.
I’m very much looking forward to The Cold Kiss of Death. It comes out in a few weeks and I couldn’t be more excited.