Hellbent by Cherie Priest. ★★★1/2
While Hellbent is a sequel to Bloodshot, I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to read them in order, although I’d suggest it if you can. The plots are largely independent, and Hellbent has a recap type thing to fill you in on what you need to know. Namely, that Raylene is a vampire thief living in Seattle. For most of her existence she’s been solitary, but within the last six months she’s moved in with a blind vampire (Ian) and two homeless kids and gained an ex-navy SEAL drag queen (Adrian) as a best friend.
The renovations to her building have cut into her supply of cash, so Raylene accepts a job that’s supposed to be totally easy – steal a box of bones out of an everyday home. Only, turns out a schizophrenic sorceress is also after them. And if Raylene didn’t have enough going on, the patriarch of Ian’s old vampire House has died, and the new regime needs to make sure that Ian can’t be in the running for succession.
The plot was faced paced, but it felt very episodic. Maybe it was the result of all these interlocking plot threads? It felt like the book was moving very clearly from one scene to another, and it sort of cut into the tension.
One thing I did like was how Raylene relates to Elizabeth, the aforementioned schizophrenic sorceress. Raylene’s neurotic and possibly got OCD, which back when she was alive in the 1920s got her a diagnosis of hysteria for which she was lucky not to wind up in an institution. Elizabeth hasn’t had any such luck, and Raylene sees some sort of commonality between them.
Hellbent doesn’t pick up any of the plot threads from Bloodshot. It almost feels like a detour, only it’s unclear whether there’ll ever be more books for the series. Priest only had a contract for two books, and there’s currently no plans for a third.
I’ve enjoyed both Bloodshot and Hellbent, and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for a couple of fun urban fantasy stories.