Tainted Blood, by M L Brennan

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Author’s website | Publisher’s website
Publication date – November 4, 2014

Summary: In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…

Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.

So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.

But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm…

Thoughts: With the fourth book soon to hit the shelves, I thought it was past time I catch up on the Generation V novels, so I decided to sit down with a copy of Tainted Blood and see what Fort and Suzume were up to.

Chivalry is in mourning, Madeline’s health is flagging, and Prudence is, well, less than prudent. So Fort is the one assigned to investigate when one of the local werebears is murdered. The Ad-hene may be suspects, but then again, there’s also evidence saying they had nothing to do with it. But if they didn’t, then who? Succession is in question, and the pressure’s on Fort and Suzume (but mostly Fort) to find the real culprit before too much damage is done.

While some people are obviously disappointed that the inexperienced Fort is the one leading the investigation, others are happy to see the youngest Scott take a larger role in the affairs of the family and territory. Various supernatural creatures are less than happy with the arrangements between them and the Scotts, and they see Fort as a way to make some changes. Appeal to the youngest and most liberal to try to get deals they know full well that nobody else in the family would give them. And Fort is all for this, seeing it as a fine line between following his family’s wishes and making the world a better place for all who have to live in it. This is setting the stage for a coup, I’m sure of it, and though lines don’t exactly get drawn in Tainted Blood, things are definitely coming to a head, and I’m curious to see what comes of all this political posturing in the end.

I think I will forever love the back-and-forth dialogue between Suzume and Fort. Honestly, those two are a big part of the reason I love this series as much as I do. Suzume is a wonderful prankster. The running gag in Tainted Blood with her pasting googly eyes to everything had me grinning a lot. And Fort, well, he remains one of my favourite characters across just about every urban fantasy you can name, because despite him being the youngest child in an ancient vampire family, he’s wonderfully realistic, and it’s so easy to relate to him. He struggles with not only the implications of his emerging vampiric nature, but also the mundanities of everyday life; juggling work with other responsibilities, making sure he doesn’t accidentally eat his roommate’s food, the fact that his car has been falling apart around him for years and he doesn’t want to take the easy way out and accept his family’s money to get a new one. He’s independent in a way that doesn’t go over the line into obnoxious, his humour and light geekiness makes him very appealing, and I just generally love to read about the guy.

I like the way Tainted Blood goes deeper into Fort’s family situation, too. As I mentioned previously, Chivalry’s in mourning, which means he’s also refusing to feed on blood until he remarries. This is a big part of why Fort is still engaged in his family’s political affairs, but more than that, it gives us another insight into Chivalry’s character. We see him caring for Bhumika in the previous two books, but here, he’s actively seeking a new wife, deliberately picking one he knows full well he’ll end up killing in the end, but caring for them no less. Madeline is slowly growing weaker, less capable of keeping her family stable, and given that Prudence is the eldest, it’s no surprise that she’s next in line to take the role as head of the family once Madeline can no longer hold the reins. But for all Prudence’s cruelty and coldness, this book did a lot to, well, humanize her. You get to see a side of her that clearly cares about Fort and wants him to thrive, even as their personalities clash. It was a side of her that really didn’t get a chance to be seen in previous novels, and I thought it was a fascinating glimpse into her character.

Each Generation V novel is a fantastic addition to the series, revealing more and more of a nuanced and complex urban fantasy world. Fort’s a great character to follow along with, since he’s mature enough to be a fully developed character, but still inexperienced and ignorant of much when it comes to supernatural politics. The reader gets to learn at the same time Fort does, without awkward infodumps that are only really there for the reader’s sake. Brennan deftly sidestepped that. With a wonderfully unique take on the vampire mythos and a brilliant cast of characters, this series is revitalizing a genre that was — for me, at least — getting stale. If you haven’t yet jumped into this series, you’re missing out on something truly incredible!

7 comments on “Tainted Blood, by M L Brennan

  1. Pingback: July in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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