This is a review for Breathless, book one of the Blue Fire Saga by Scott Prussing. It’s a YA/New Adult Paranormal romance.
This book was something of a mixed bag. There were elements of it that I really enjoyed and other elements that were somewhat frustrating.
The opening scene is great – a woman stumbles out of the woods claiming to have been bitten by a distinctive one-fanged vampire. You’re then immediately introduced to a somewhat unique concept that differs from the traditional vampire lore and I actually really quite liked this aspect of the book. As well as the vampires, you have the grafhym, which are semi-vampires of a sort, the ones who didn’t transition properly. You also have the volkaanes, the vampires’ nemeses who hunt them and kill them with the kiss of death. I don’t know where Prussing got the concepts from, whether they’re adapted from old Scandinavian folklore or if he made them up, but this new and fresh take on what is at risk of becoming a tired genre was welcome.
Unfortunately, Prussing’s writing style in terms of plot devices let the concept down somewhat. While I could just about swallow Leesa’s reason for being at that particular college, there were other aspects of the story that just stretched my credulity too far. While I was happy to romp along with supernatural creatures, I did balk a little at the idea that any respectable university would run a serious course in “Vampire Science”. It was also an odd meld of old lore and new – vampires can go out in daylight but they don’t have a reflection. Personally I’ve always thought that’s one of the sillier parts of vampire lore and perhaps it was my personal opinion that jarred me out of the story, but I wished Prussing had been braver. If he was going to write a fresh take on vampires, he should have gone all the way with it. Prussing also has a tendency to go too far with descriptions. Several times the story got mired in tedious details, such as the layout of the dinner table etc, as well as several repetitions presumably designed to assure the reader that the author had watched Twilight and Interview with a Vampire. There were occasions when I skipped over unnecessary details. I did find myself wondering about the volkaane way of life too…if the kids are raised communally and none know who their parents are, how do they avoid inbreeding?
One of the things that I really loved about this book was that neither the heroine nor her favourite side-kick were perfect. Leesa has a limp, caused by a birth defect, and Cali has a birthmark on her face. It was one of the strengths of the book – neither were ashamed of who they were and still kicked ass. Cali is a great side-kick – funny, kooky and always accepting of the craziness in Leesa’s life; she’s a great balancing act for the darker aspects of the story. Where Stefan’s character seemed a little shallow, Cali and Rave were both bouncing with life and depth and it’s a shame that Prussing didn’t really explore much of Stefan’s character. He was the one that packed the most emotional punch in the book but you, as the reader, have no idea really where that darkness is coming from. He’s very one-dimensional. To be fair to the author, this may be explored in later books, but that was my take on Stefan in this first book.
Overall I did enjoy it. I read the whole thing over 2 days. If you’re looking for something fresh in the PNR genre, a different take on the vampire scene, then definitely try this. I don’t know anything about Prussing, but the issues I mentioned could all be explained by a lack of experience and it’s entirely possible that they’ve been fixed in later books in this series so don’t give up on it if it doesn’t draw you in straight away.