Bitten to Death (Jaz Parks) by Jennifer Rardin

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Bitten to Death (Jaz Parks) by Jennifer Rardin

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Category: Horror
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A further adventure for the human killer of the undead with her vampire boss, sees past and future coincide and leaves many corpses as a result. The energy of the series is maintained, although this is strictly for fans of the previous books.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841497082

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Slash – the sound of vampires lashing out at each other – a noise and activity you'll have to get used to when reading this book and the three prequels. Vayl is a vampire working on behalf of humankind, despatching the nastier side of the undead as and when required.

Crunch – the past colliding with the present in this latest mission, as Vayl and his human counterpart Jaz encounter a Grecian troupe of vampires, about to be taken over it would appear by the baddy of baddies, Samos. Jaz has to face up to the fact that Vayl has a history with this band of vamps. Which is nothing compared to the present he and a certain female among them are to share.

Splat – the noise we the audience make as we're dropped right into the centre of things, both as regards this adventure and the whole mythos, here given extended vocabulary for us to learn, further rules of who can do what to whom, and a denser feel of us being wrapped up in a mysterious undead world somewhat removed from our own.

I'm not sure the third noise is particularly welcome – it certainly edits out the initial warm-up to things, but the book does not sustain such a brisk way with the unnecessary at other times, and it's a bit alienating to be thrust so headily and heavily into what the author seems occasionally to be giving us purely to pep up a jaded franchise.

On the other hand, the book starts with just Jaz and her warrior brother and Vayl, with none of the sidekicks gathered from other adventures, which is to my taste. The converse to that is that we're left with an unusual feeling when the book at times seems to be going about its business – bringing Samos potentially into our heroes' circle for the first time, and possibly at a distance where he can be captured by them – at an awkward pace. Is this the fourth book the series has been gearing itself up to?, I asked myself often.

Still, the book can be credited with a much more intimate feel than the Iranian setting of book three, and Patras in Greece comes across as more realistic than the middle east. On the whole the setting of one secluded villa (one where no amount of gunfire can be heard from one room to the other – odd that, given the supernatural hearing of so many of the inhabitants) works well. It adds to the denser read – in which I include the characterisation, as well as terminology and mythology.

With Jaz's first person narrative having fewer people to concern herself with there is an even greater depth to her character – which includes the well-liked snappy side, habit of wisecracking at inappropriate times, and now, more novel semi-imaginary voices in her head. If you don't like her you could never like this book, for sure.

And I don't think you could ever get much out of this volume without reading at least one of the prior efforts. I declared the last book to be self-contained, but this one is just too imbued with its own world and personnel to be anyone's satisfactory introduction to the series.

For returning fans there is enough happening in the overarching story arc to satisfy us all, although certainly a sense of doubt alongside the surprises. It leaves us looking toward a fifth (and, please, make it final) edition that will have to go again I know not where, and concern itself with what I didn't take as the major elements of the cycle.

This sense of awkwardness and here and there clumsiness mean I'm a bit cautious about giving the book four stars, but I have done – but only after repeating that this is only for you if you're knowledgeable about what has happened before now. The energy to the story, the mysteries Jaz has to resolve regarding the past of the band of vamps and Vayl, and the strides taken towards a climax we don't reckon on aren't the smoothest, but certainly come with some satisfaction.

I would like to thank Orbit for sending a review copy to us at the Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld.

Booklists.jpg Bitten to Death (Jaz Parks) by Jennifer Rardin is in the Top Ten Books About Vampires.

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