The Dark Arts of Blood is the fourth installment of Freda Warrington’sBlood Wine Sequence. Released on June 30, it is the first addition to the series since The Dark Blood of Poppies in 1995. While it presents a fast paced story with notes of romance and mystery, it felt burdened by its legacy, and attempts to catch up new readers like me made the story go “clunk” when it’s normally a smooth ride.
Our heroes are a small cadre of vampires from the earlier Blood Wine books: Karl, our hero from A Taste of Blood Wine; his immortal scientifically-minded lover, Charlotte; Violette, prima ballerina and avatar of Lilith; and the mischievous Stefan and his mute doppelganger Niklas. Most of the action takes place in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1928.
…The little bursts of exposition from previous books gum up the first few chapters, and with details the reader doesn’t necessarily need, like how exactly Charlotte and Karl became lovers, or countless reminders that Violette is the Avatar of Lilith. While the latter detail does serve as a plot point, I didn’t need to know Charlotte & Karl’s backstory to believe their relationship. In
versely, the relationship between Stefan and Niklas is skirted around, regarded as common knowledge to the reader and, once the two of them have a crisis in the final act, I had little grasp of its significance. Two other characters from previous books, Pierre and Ilona, appear early in the story with the sole purpose of informing the reader that they would not appear in the book at any other time. While that may have been a nice visit for a returning reader, it kept me hoping for a cavalry that would never arrive.