Taken (Blood Trails #3) by Jennifer Blackstream
Read: 17th – 24th August 2018
My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I was lucky enough to be given a digital version of this book for free from the author – Jennifer Blackstream – in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks for the advance reader copy.
So what’s this book about?
Taken is the third book in Ms Blackstream’s new series Blood Trails; an urban fantasy series set in America about a village witch, Shade Renard, turned private investigator. The Blood Trails world is a place inhabited by a host of mythical and supernatural beings, including; witches, vampires, wizards, sorceresses, pixies, dwarves, trolls and various species of fae living, unseen, alongside us mere mortals. Taken is a detective story within an urban fantasy framework.
Fans of Ms Blackstream’s Blood Prince series and Blood Realm series will be familiar with the creation myth found in the Blood Trails world and may recognise some of the characters who sometimes cameo within the books, however, I don’t think it’s necessary to have read these series to enjoy the Blood Trails books.
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I don’t post spoilers or reveal twists in my book reviews, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:
A cold case puts Shade on the trail of three teenagers who disappeared from a homeless shelter the night before a charity art auction. The cops think they left willingly, but Shade knows some of the most frightening monsters from the Otherworld can be as seductive as they are dangerous.
Talented artists vanishing without a trace. Willing participants in their own disappearance.
Shade knows exactly what fate has befallen the teenagers. But what will she risk to get them back?
So far, Shade and her trusted pixie familiar, Peasblossom, have had to solve a different case in each book, the crimes varying from petty theft to cold-blooded murder while a gentle story-line of Shade’s past, the origins of her magical power, her expanding contacts and her growing relationships – both personal and professional – continues in the background. Ms Blackstream eloquently weaves any pertinent facts regarding previous adventures and subsequent information learned into this one, meaning that Taken can be read as a standalone story, if you so wish. However, I do feel that as the series grows, you’d likely miss the nuances of knowing re-occurring characters and understanding the dynamics of those relationships.
So, what did I like about it?
Ms Blackstream has become a tried and trusted author on my bookshelf; I find her writing style intelligent and easy to read, her plot lines gripping and her characters captivating and believable. Taken did not let me down.
In this book Shade teams up with FBI Agent, Andy Bradford, to try to solve one of the many cold cases at the bureau but right from the start, we know that things are probably not what they seem. I liked the mix of tension and humour as we are re-introduced to some characters from previous adventures while meeting some new ones on this quest. I love a good quandary – put your fate in the hands of an acquaintance whom you have learned not to trust or that of a dangerous stranger offering help but whose motives are unclear.
I already liked our heroine, Shade, right from the first book, but she has continued to grow in my estimations; she’s proved herself to be intelligent, witty and has loads of gumption. I liked her perseverance and her maturity to admit her mistakes and learn from them. I also loved the fact that the secondary characters that Ms Blackstream created to populate her world felt just as real as our leads – they weren’t just filling the page – they all had the complexities that we’d see in those around us; they had a good balance of strengths and insecurities to make them feel real which made me want to know more about them. I liked that we’ve been introduced to a few more new supernaturals during this story as I think it helps the paranormal world that Ms Blackstream is creating to grow.
Although Taken is an urban fantasy tale featuring a host of paranormal species, it’s the detective/police crime aspect that kept me gripped. I enjoyed the attention to detail that Ms Blackstream wrote into this crime drama; the more mundane police procedures that are used to solve crimes, e.g. leg work, going over files with a fine-toothed comb, interviewing witnesses and potential suspects, etc. I loved the way Ms Blackstream included the real ambiguity of our laws and legal system into her fictional tale; she certainly caused me to pause and consider the wisdom of flexibility compared to a more rigid approach.
I think a story becomes more gripping when “out of the frying pan and into the fire” gets thrown into the plot and this story kept me guessing as there are some unexpected twists and turns during Shade’s investigation that satisfied my Sherlock-Holmes-tendencies and kept me on the edge of my seat. I liked that it wasn’t all easy sailing for our heroine; there is danger, tension and some scary moments in this book.
There are references to Shade’s adventures from the previous books but Ms Blackstream weaves any pertinent information new readers might need beautifully into this tale. There are a few continuing mysteries that are not revealed within these pages while we get to learn a couple of interesting nuggets about Shade’s past, but fear not dear reader no cliffhangers here, the case of the missing teenagers is solved by the end of the book! (Woohoo!)
I loved the fact that Taken had me on the edge of my seat holding my breath with tension (and also with fear during a few scenes too, eek!), wiping a tear from my cheek, fuming with indignation and chuckling out loud.
So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?
I just wanted to say that as with all books within a series, there are certain questions left unanswered about Shade’s history, where her magical power comes from and what her future potential is. In my opinion this is a good thing – it leaves background story arcs that can continue into subsequent books which tie the whole series together.
So, basically what I’m saying is…
I really loved this book, more than the previous one, if that’s possible! It’s got everything that I look for in a 5star read; great action to get the adrenaline pumping, an intelligent mystery to get the little grey cells whirling, nail biting tension and well written humour.
So, has my review of TAKEN (BLOOD TRAILS #3) encouraged you to find out more? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author. To see the other books I’ve read, take a look at my profile on Goodreads.
See TAKEN on Goodreads.com
Buy TAKEN in print, audio and eBook formats through the usual sources, including Amazon
Oh, before I go, I just wanted to let you know that I am part of the Amazon UK Associates Program. I don’t work for Amazon, I’m just a woman who loves to blog and share stuff but Amazon (and I) want make sure that you understand that the Amazon UK link that I’ve included in this post is “commercial” in nature (I get a small commission if you buy the book after clicking on the Amazon UK link I posted above).