Flora Reviews… Taken (Blood Trails #3) by Jennifer Blackstream
Read: 17th – 24th August 2018
Publication Date: 28th August 2018
My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
So what’s Taken 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. You 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.
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.
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.
I was given an unedited digital version of this book (eARC) for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence or affect this review. This is my candid opinion about the writing style and story.
So, what did I like about Taken?
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 too. 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. However, she’s continued to grow in my estimations. Shade has 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.
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. Having a good balance of strengths and insecurities to make them feel real. It made me want to know more about them. I liked that we’ve been introduced to a few more new supernaturals during this story. It helps the paranormal world that Ms Blackstream is creating to grow.
I enjoyed the attention to detail that Ms Blackstream wrote into the crime drama aspect.
Although Taken is an urban fantasy tale featuring a host of paranormal species, it’s the detective/police crime aspect that kept me gripped. The more mundane police procedures that are used to solve crimes. For example, the 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.
Taken kept me guessing.
I think a story becomes more gripping when “out of the frying pan and into the fire” gets thrown into the plot. here 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.
I was kept me on the edge of my seat.
There are references to Shade’s adventures from the previous books. However, Ms Blackstream weaves any pertinent information new readers might need beautifully into this tale. Although we get to learn a couple of interesting nuggets about Shade’s past, there are a few continuing mysteries that are not solved. However, 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. With fear during a few scenes too, eek! Wiping a tear from my cheek and fuming with indignation. Luckily, it also had me chuckling out loud too.
So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?
As with all books within a series, there are certain questions left unanswered about Shade’s history. Such as 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 Taken. This series just keeps getting better and better!
It’s got everything that I look for in a 5 star 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 to balance it all out.
So, has my review of TAKEN (BLOOD TRAILS #3) 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 the series and the author herself.
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:
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Click HERE to read my full disclosure statement.
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.