Of Scions and Men by Courtney Sloan. ★★1/2
On the surface, Of Scions and Men looks like it could be really cool – a dystopian urban fantasy world ruled by vampires. However, it’s poorly executed and often feels like a collection of little thought out tropes. If I weren’t reading this with the intention to review, I would have quit part way through.
Rowan Brandy is a vampire’s scion – someone who becomes a vampire’s servant in blood bag and gains a psychic link that allows them to use the vampire’s powers. She normally works tracking down vampires who take blood illegally, but then bodies start turning up suggesting that a vampire is trying to make an off the books scion.
The synopsis given makes it look like the plot will revolve around some diplomats from Canada visiting the US. It’s true that these diplomats have a large role in the book, only… I’m not sure why. If they had anything at all to do with the plot or something particularly significant to contribute, I’ve forgotten it in the week since I’ve read the book. In general, the plot felt very weak. The pacing seemed off and it took a while for anything meaningful to happen. The ho hum plot could have been all right if the book made up for it with good characterization. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
I really disliked Rowan. She started off not so bad but it didn’t take long for her to actively annoy me. She feels like the run of the mill “Strong Female Protagonist” you encounter in urban fantasy, complete with the tight fitting leather pants and a dependency on her vampire love interest. I think we’re supposed to admire her independence for mouthing off to authority, but it just makes her look stupid.And she’s constantly smirking! All attempts to give her sarcasm and humor (and I get the feeling she’s supposed to be funny) fall has flat as her overall characterization.
There weren’t even any secondary characters I liked. I either disliked or was indifferent too all the rest. Her vampire master/love interest annoyed me, especially his repeated use of the word “cherie.” There was only one other reoccurring female character besides Rowan, and they never had much of a conversation or relationship. It felt at times that almost everyone surrounding her was a hot dude there to highlight how sexually desirable Rowan was. Except for Lyle, her best friend, who was a walking stereotype and had no characterization or plot line outside of him being gay.
The “vampire dystopian” set up should be interesting, but the explanation for it was incredibly flimsy. Something about Middle Eastern terrorism and some really dodgy economics? The way the world worked now felt either ill thought out or infodumped. A lot of the common paranormal creatures (vampires, werewolves/shifters, and ghosts) are included, but they feel thrown in and not like they are a cohesive part of the same book.
I can’t recommend Of Scions and Men. There was too much that I disliked about it, and almost nothing at all that I did like. If you’re a big fan of the “sexy UF heroine dallying with vampires” you might get something out of it. But if you’re looking for something that rises above the usual, Of Scions and Men isn’t for you.
I received a free ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.