Flora Reviews… Monster (Blood Trails #2) by Jennifer Blackstream
Read: 29th April – 5th May 2018
Publication date: 8th May 2018
My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
So what’s Monster about?
Monster is the second 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 where a host of mythical supernatural beings inhabit alongside us mere mortals, including; witches, vampires, wizards, sorceresses, pixies, dwarves, trolls and various species of fae. Monster is a murder detective story within the urban fantasy genre.
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. You may also recognise some of the characters who sometimes cameo within the books. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to have read Ms Blackstream’s other paranormal romance series to enjoy the Blood Trails books.
I focus my reviews on how the story was told rather than the plot itself. I’m looking at the author’s writing style, how they paced their plots and how well they constructed their characters and setting. Therefore, my reviews don’t contain spoilers or reveal plot twists.
Here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story.
The magic, murder, and mayhem continues…
Still recovering from the political and personal consequences of her last case, Shade Renard is in no shape for a visit from her mentor. But when the most powerful witch in existence offers you a chance at an unqualified, unlimited favor, you take it.
To collect, Shade must find out who—or what—killed a human in one of Cleveland’s peaceful metroparks. The challenge? The lead suspect is a werewolf, found with the victim’s blood all over his face. The complication? He’s a cop. As are several of the park rangers. And they’re not happy Shade is on the case…
Success means a favor from Baba Yaga. Failure means quitting her private investigative career—forever.
Favors are never free…
So far, Shade (and her trusted familiar, Peasblossom) have had to solve a different case in each book. The crimes varying from theft to murder while a gentle story-line of Shade’s past and the origins of her power continues in the background. Ms Blackstream eloquently weaves any pertinent facts regarding previous adventures and information learned into this one, meaning that Monster 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 Monster?
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. Monster did not let me down.
We hit the ground running with a new case for our heroine, Shade Renard, 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 the formidable Mother Hazel (a.k.a Baba Yaga), Shade and her familiar, the unforgettable pixie, Peasblossom.
I already liked our heroine, Shade, from the previous book. However, she grew in my estimations during Monster. 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.
Although Monster 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 story kept me guessing as there are some unexpected twists and turns during Shade’s investigation that satisfied my Sherlock-Holmes-tendencies. 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 book – Deadline. However, Ms Blackstream weaves any pertinent information new readers might need beautifully into this tale. There are a few continuing mysteries about Shade’s past that are not revealed within these pages, but fear not dear reader no cliffhangers here, the murder of Dale Oliver is solved by the end of the book! (Woohoo!)
I loved the fact that Monster 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 this is a fairly new series there are certain questions left unanswered about Shade’s past, where her power comes from and what her future may hold. In my opinion this is a good thing – it leaves background story arcs that can continue to the next book and beyond, tying the 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 MONSTER (BLOOD TRAILS #2) encouraged you to find out more? Click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself. Keep reading to find out more about this series and the author.
Blood Trails Series
An urban fantasy series set in America about a village witch, Shade Renard, turned private investigator. Every book has a different crime or murder mystery for Shade to investigate, which she solves by the end of each book.
Click below to read my review or check out the books yourself.
- Deadline (Blood Trails #1) (2018)
- Monster (Blood Trails #2) (2018)
- Taken (Blood Trails #3) (2018)
- Corruption (Blood Trails #4) (2019)
- Mercenary (Blood Trails #5) (2019)
- Caged (Blood Trails #6) (2019)
- Betrayal (Blood Trails #7) (2020)
Buy any of the stories in Blood Trails series in print and ebook formats through the usual sources, including:
Jennifer Blackstream is a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She is amazed and grateful to have made a writing career out of a Master’s degree in Psychology, hours of couch-detecting watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and endless research into mythology and fairy tales. She firmly believes that whether it’s a village witch deciding she wants to be a private investigator, or a single mother having a go at being a full time writer, it’s never too late for a new adventure.
A fervent devotee of cooperative board games, Jennifer sets aside at least two nights a week for team-based adventures such as Mice & Mystics, Sentinels of the Multiverse, or Harry Potter: Battle at Hogwarts. She uses games with dice-based mechanics to lure in her ridiculously lucky-rolling son and daughter in the hope that they too will develop a passion for cooperative escapism.
Jennifer’s Blood Prince series is a paranormal romance retelling of favourite fairy tales. The Blood Realm spin-off series is the expansion of that world. While her Blood Trails series is a new urban fantasy built on her previous Blood world foundations.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. I really appreciate it. Jennifer Blackstream is one of my favourite authors. Click HERE to see my other favourite writers.