This one is a hard one to rate. I had some major issues with it, but it was also kind of fun, and I’m curious to check out the rest of the series. This is a kind of alternate history fantasy-ish steampunk world where continued exposure to the bubonic plague mutated humans into becoming vampires and werewolves, and when the two sub-species mix, goblins. The vampires and werewolves are all aristocrats, naturally, and run the world. Queen Victoria is still around and ruling in 2012. If you only have one vampire or werewolf parent, you’re considered half-vamp or half-were (or a halvie), like our main character, Xandra.
One major issue I had was the book’s inability to spell “lieutenant.” It insisted on using “leftenant”, which is ridiculous regardless of how you decide to pronounce it, and that’s a major fail by someone on the publishing side. I even found it was used outside of dialogue in one case, so there’s really no excuse.
The other issue that I had was that Vex, for one, didn’t sound like he was old. He sounded exactly the same as Xandra. Furthermore, I didn’t see what he saw in Xandra. I mean, yes, she’s our heroine, but she came across mostly as an unthinking bruiser despite her worries of spending too much time in her own head. And it seems like all of the halvies were reasonably attractive with bright hair so she couldn’t have stood out that much. I guess there’s her smell, but that tiptoes into spoiler territory and provides an unsatisfactory answer anyway. So the romance aspect was mostly a fail, although I didn’t mind it until he called her “sweetheart.” Also, Xandra never considered that the original aristocrats were born to humans, wth? It’s basic logic.
The world building, although interesting, also had random details thrown out, like the cure for hysteria which came out of nowhere. It was a weird aside. Not everything in the world worked for me, but it was interesting enough to hold my attention. The book ended up being far more gruesome than I was expecting. I liked the cannibalistic goblins. [Aside: Are they cannibalistic though? Would they eat other goblins? Does it count if goblins eat vampires, werewolves, and humans? Plus: they wouldn’t eat a cat.] The goblins drove the book up to three stars.
I also loved this poster, which was on the back of my copy:
I’m counting this book for the Vampires vs. Werewolves square for the Hallowe’en Bingo.