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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blood Rock (Dakota Frost / Skindancer series book two) by Anthony Francis


Blood Rock is one of the best books I've read this year. I need to come up with a category for the books that deserve something better than a 10 of 10.

From what I can tell from his online information, Anthony Francis is a scientist as well as a computer geek. And it shows in his writing -- in a good way, of course. If magic were real there would be physics to it, and he gives us the physics of magic like no other urban fantasy author has done before. There are graphomancers who study how shapes interact with magic, there is talk of exothermic vs endothermic where it applies to magic, we get well thought out explanations of why some shapes draw magic in and others spew it out, there is even mention of the Holographic Universe.  Wow. I'm betting that I could talk to this man for hours and not notice the passing of time.

So, obviously, I loved the metaphysics of the book... but what about the story? Genius. Pure, unadulterated, genius.

Dakota Frost is a great hero - unsure of herself at times, working through stuff as it slaps her in the face, but able to kick ass when push comes to shove. She knows right from wrong, she is loyal to her friends, she's damn smart, and she has some exceptionally smart friends. But she's also in a difficult place -- a human living on the edge with the supernaturals, trying to merge both worlds, in a society that doesn't want to merge them. She knows the cops, she knows the supernaturals, neither side likes or trusts the other.

She's still feeling out the relationship with Cinnamon - becoming a mom to a teen isn't like being pushed into the deep end of the pull before you experience the shallow end, it's like being dumped into the ocean during a hurricane before you've experienced the shallow end of the pool... but Dakota is dealing with it. In part because it hasn't been all that long since she was a teen herself, but mostly just because she's a caring and empathic person who isn't afraid to put her foot down when necessary but understands when it's not necessary, too.

The main plot is beautiful. I'm not sure I can do it justice without spoilers, so this is a good spot for the blurb:

Dakota Frost is back, and the ink is about to hit the fan - again. Graffiti comes to life in the dark heart of Atlanta's oldest cemetery, slaying one of the city's best loved vampires before the eyes of his friend Dakota Frost. Deadly magick is at work on the city's walls, challenging even the amazing power of Dakota's tattoos to contain it. The hungry graffiti magick loves to kill, and the Edgeworld is no longer safe from its own kind. Dakota begins a harrowing journey to save those she loves and to discover the truth behind the spreading graffiti - even if that truth offends the vampires, alienates the werekin, and creates police suspicion of her every action. Saving Atlanta may cost her everything, including custody of her "adopted" weretiger daughter, Cinnamon. But failure is not an option. If the graffiti isn't stopped, Cinnamon could be the next victim. Epic Award winner Anthony Francis writes the Skindancer series while working fulltime for "that famous search engine whose name begins with a 'G'."

Blood Rock picks up a few months after the end of Frost Moon; we're told it's been three months since Cinnamon was poisoned. Most of the characters from Frost Moon are present -- We meet Dakota's teacher, we see a decent amount of Savannah/Saffron, we see the various law enforcement officers quite a bit for about a third of the book. And we meet new characters... some nice, some not, and some who don't really fit into either mold.

As for the writing elements:
  • The plot is masterfully woven through the subplots, and has a substantial amount of genius behind it. I don't throw that word around lightly - I love it when a book makes me think, challenges me to wrap my brain around a concept.
  • Pacing is fine. Not perfect, but no complaints on my end.
  • Prose and dialogue are very well done.
  • Character development is stellar. 
  • World Building is well thought out and very detailed.
I gave Skin Dancer a 10 of 10, it's a no brainer that Blood Rock also gets a 10 of 10, and after two books I'm going to give a series rating, too.
  • Book Rating: Blood Rock: 10 of 10
  • Series Rating: 10 of 10
I believe the third book will be titled Liquid Fire, but I have no idea when we might expect to see it. I hope it's not another year and a half, but if it is, I'll wait. 

You can read my review of Skin Dancer here. You should read these books in order, I do not recommend reading the second if you haven't read the first.

1. Frost Moon  (2010)
2. Blood Rock  (2011)
3. Liquid Fire


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