Review: First Blood Anthology "Thicker Than Blood"

Review: First Blood Anthology "Thicker Than Blood" by Meljean Brook

Vampire Annie Gallagher needs help to save a young human girl named Cricket, but she doesn't expect the help to come from the FBI agent she loved-and had to give up-when she was transformed.

Jack Harrington knows he is being stalked. He continues to deceive the one who follows but he is shocked to discover that his stalker is none other the his deceased girlfriend.

Six years ago, Jack had invested months wooing Annie Gallagher. Knowing her family's strong values, he wanted a ring on her finger before they made love for the first time. But all his time and preparation was brutally halted by her sudden death in a car accident. Jack, determined to never let the past repeat itself, met someone new within the first year of Annie's death and promptly proposes within weeks of the relationship. His fiance soon discovers what has happened to him and the relationship dies. Now for the past five years he's been on his own. Resigned from the FBI for digging into closed investigations that hinted to the supernatural, he is now on a personal quest to discover what happened to vanish more than hundred Philly residents without anyone batting an eye.

Annie Gallagher is the only vampire left alive in Philadelphia. The other 130 vampires in her community have disappeared, killed by a nephil - a demon housed in human skin. Indebted to the only people willing to take her in upon her transformation, Annie goes on a search for their human sister, Cricket. For two weeks she's been scouring the city, psychically touching thousands of minds looking for any sight of the girl. So far no such luck and Annie is on the brink of madness. Without a consistent vampire food source, Annie has been forced to alternate her feeding with prepackaged blood and humans. The irony of her situation is that for the past six years she has been making a living executing those vampires who viewed humans as a food source and sometimes as an easy kill.

With the bloodlust building, Annie stakes out a bar in her old hometown of Northeast Philly. Memories of happiness and family flood her soul and sharpen her loneliness. That's when she spys her prey. A man, obviously inebriated, leaves the bar to walk home and Annie begins to stalk him. All the while she notices resemblances to the love of her life, the man she was forced to walk away from - Jack Harrington.

For the past six years Annie's life has been one of solitude. Due to the rejection of her human family Annie never allowed herself to become too close to anyone in her vampire community. After being past around the community as a feeding partner and forced into sexual intimacy by the bloodlust, Annie had finally found sanctuary with a vampire couple who welcomed her to into their bed. Annie settles for seconds as the couple are deeply in love but she would rather have forced sexual intimacy with friends than a stranger. Now all that has been taken away and Annie's despair is great. Because of this emotional weakness, Annie allows Jack back into her life, if anything his FBI contacts may help in locating Cricket.

Now that Jack has found Annie, he refuses to let her go. She was the one for him and he sees her decision to ultimately stay away from him after her transformation as a fierce betrayal. Jack knows that she'll do anything to find Cricket and he uses this weakness to imerse himself back into her life.

I loved the subtle and slow way the author had of revealing the inner workings of these characters. Like a slow opening flower, each pop of a pettle brought forth a new tidbit whether it be about Jack or Annie's past or gradual reconcilliation. I found this device kept me more interested in the story. I wanted to know why Annie's human famly was no loger apart of her life. I wanted to know why Jack was no longer in the FBI. Answers were given slowly and sometimes in combination with a new question awaiting to be solved.

The only aspect of the story that left me wanting was the resolution of Cricket's disappearence. I thought there would be a fight between Annie and the Nephil but instead it was completely anti-climactic.

I'm huge fan Meljean Brook and this latest installment to the Gaurdian Series does not disappoint. Her next full length novel, 'Demon Bound', will be out November 2008.



Christine said...

Great review! I'm a big fan of Meljean's too and can't believe I still haven't read this short story. I plan on reading it before Demon Bound, though, because I am a huge stickler for reading series in order ... even when the stories are loosely related.

VampFanGirl said...

I'm the exact same way about reading a series in order. This book was classic Meljean and a great addition to her series. I must admit that I'm a bit nervous about 'Demon Bound' because I didn't really connect with Jake in 'Demon Night'. He just seemed too young and his prankster behavior reminded me of my brother. I guess I can't really think of him in a romantic way yet. But I trust Meljean and I'll still be first in line to buy the book on release day!

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