I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Bloodmark Saga #1
Also in this series: Bloodrealms
Published by Wise Ink on November 1st 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher
Buy on Amazon
Sixteen-year-old werewolf princess Ashling Boru is different from other wolves—she was able to shift to wolf form at birth. Rather than bringing pride to her family, it brings fear, and as a result, she is forced to live in seclusion in Ireland’s countryside. Ashling’s reputation is further blackened when she refuses her betrothed and defies the ancient laws. When her pack’s oldest rivals begin hunting her, she finds herself in the small town of York Harbor, Maine—far from everything she’s ever known.
In Maine, she crosses paths with the dark and rebellious Grey Donavan, and something ignites within her soul. There’s just one problem: Grey is human. Their instant connection turns into a passionate romance, and Ashling begins to believe she can create her own life outside of wolf laws. When she begins to uncover long-buried pack secrets—secrets that threaten to destroy all she holds dear—Ashling’s courage and tenacity are tested. Will she choose her deep and enduring love for Grey, or will she follow Old Mother’s path to her destiny?
First I would like to comment on the packaging, and I have a little story to share. My hardcover ARC was wrapped in black tissue paper and was sealed with the symbol on the cover in black sealing wax- it was so beautiful that I kept it. It also inspired me to want to try sealing things on my own, and I was delighted to receive a sealing kit for the holidays. I nearly set myself on fire trying it out, but I managed all right and found a fun new art form. So already this ARC experience was going splendidly. And the book and cover itself are very nice. I like the color scheme.
Review Intro II
I just have to include a little note here about vampire books. I don’t read very many of them. And it could be argued that this is not a vampire book (although it alludes to Bloodsuckers which I’m pretty sure are basically the vampires of this book, in some way, being the enemies of the werewolves and all). But for my purposes I will consider it one because it’s part of this paranormal romance genre that I don’t often read.
I can list the ‘vampire books’ I’ve read off the top of my head. The Twilight series, Blue Bloods: Revelations (not even the whole series, yet), and Beneath Manhattan Skies, which was an ARC I reviewed recently. Oh, and the first of the Vampire Diaries. That is the expanse of my knowledge. And so far, I have not been able to help comparing them all to Twilight (because of its popularity and criticism, most likely). And I have found a lot of similarities, more than I probably would have found had I not read Twilight. They all seem to be pretty cookie-cutter in certain ways. I don’t know if this holds true for all vampire books, given my limited experience, but it has certainly influenced my views on such books.
I’ll start by saying that there are key DIFFERENCES between Bloodmark and the typical vampire book. First of all, the main focus is werewolves.
There is no prominent love triangle.
The main battle is not werewolves vs. Bloodsuckers, but werewolves vs. evil werewolves.
Neither one of the main couple is a human.
The girl’s true father is not a nice guy.
Among other things.
I was about to add that there are no special abilities like mind reading or seeing the future, but I guess seeing the future through dreams is a thing. So scratch that.
Now let us begin.
First, there is insta-love.
This is an extremely controversial plot element among readers. Some like it, some hate it, and some say it depends. For me, it depends, but I usually lean towards disapproval. I prefer a slow-burn romance, but if the main focus of the story isn’t romance, I can overlook it. Or if it’s not too overwhelming or typical.
Here, it’s basically insta-forbidden-love between her and ‘human’ Grey Donavan. So there’s already a bit of an interesting take on it. There’s another difference from the typical ‘vampire book’- they’re not all insta-love, but there is usually some forbidden-love element in it.
Because of all the other interesting elements going on in the story here, I was able to go with the insta-love for pretty much the whole thing. Although I can’t pretend I wasn’t a bit triumphant when there was that Twilight-esque period where he left her alone for a while and she tried not to go insane. (It probably wasn’t that bad. She’s stronger than Bella.) But yeah, there was that question of whether it really was ‘true love’ and ‘meant to be’ and all that, and that made the insta-love a little more tolerable. By this point, I wasn’t concerned with looking at the book as a romance. It was more like ‘how is this strong heroine going to deal with her paranormal problems?’.
The second intense thing that happens upon her arrival in New York is an insta-hatred with Lacey, Grey’s only ex-girlfriend who isn’t ready to give him up just yet. I mean, that’s understandable. And I don’t think Ashling ever really hates Lacey (probably because Grey chooses Ashling. Heheh.) but Lacey FOR SURE hates Ashling. But Ashling sets her straight in the end so it’s all right.
All of her other relationships are pretty normal.
She also has a really intense bond with her brother Mund. I liked that. He took care of her and worried about her (along with Baran) and they both allowed her some freedoms when she deserved them. Even when they got her into trouble. But they all learned. So it was essentially the perfect family situation- give and take, protection, loyalty, love.
But in general, the plot was kind of predictable.
Oh, Grey’s not human? Well, duh. Even from the beginning, we could tell that. But what he turns out to be is quite the interesting surprise….
This needs its own section.
So may I just say that I loved the climax? The final fight?
That was probably one of the bigger things that set it apart from other vampire books, and other books in general. The main thing being, SHE DID IT ALL HERSELF.
That’s right. No help from anyone else (mostly). When it came down to it, it was just she and the evil werewolf king, and she kicked his butt in the end. She killed him! All herself! She didn’t need no man to save her! HA!
I just love that.
Not that I’m a die-hard feminist or that I believe women shouldn’t need men or anything along those lines. Nor do I suggest fighting anyone by yourself. It’s better to have a team (preferably of skilled people). But it’s not often that we see something of this magnitude. It wasn’t easy, but she did it. She wasn’t even the strongest heroine out there. And she was actually quite weakened when she did it. She wasn’t OP or anything.
Some might say it was anticlimactic. This big bad werewolf king vs. little weak Ashling……and she just rips his throat right out. No questions asked. I admit, it wasn’t a long fight (well, not THAT long). But it was completely unexpected. I honestly was waiting for some last-minute rescue. As strong as Ashling had said she was throughout the book (and a few times proven herself to be), I still didn’t quite get the vibe that she had that much muchness (a term I’m using from Alice in Wonderland because it seems to fit what I’m trying to say). I just didn’t think she’d really be up to it. But she was. She proved me wrong. And I am so proud of her. She changed a lot from the beginning of the book. To continue my Alice in Wonderland theme, she knew who she was in the beginning, but she changed quite a few times since then. (Can you tell that I have a bit of an Alice-obsession?)
I also must note that I really liked how Adomnan’s (evil werewolf king) brothers didn’t necessarily side with him. They didn’t fight for Ashling, but they stopped helping their brother, the king, which was a big deal. And one brother, Eamon, does try to help her, as much as he can without losing his life. I actually think Eamon is the most interesting character in the whole book. I want to see more of him.
The ending wraps up nicely, but does leave enough room for a sequel. Honestly it might do as a standalone, but I’m going to continue reading the series because I think I’m invested enough to be curious what happens to lovely Ashling and mysterious Grey.
Less than perfect: