The Dark Arts of Blood Lacks Both Clarity & Complexity

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.

Read the full article at Paper Droids.



No Mercy tells the story of fifteen American teenagers and their supervisors involved in  image from Image Comicsa fatal bus crash.  They find themselves stranded in the desert of the fictional Central American country Mataguey.  The teens spend the first two issues struggling to survive the night after the crash. Half the passengers are dead, the coyotes are hungry, and the sun has yet to rise.

Writer Alex de Campi (Valentine, Archie vs. Predator) pushes the story forward, piling on complications and plot twists in a manner that could be called ruthless, or at the very least, relentless.  We spend very little time with the overachieving teens before they are thrust into peril, and once there, de Campi makes sure they never stay comfortable.  Artist Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), at once plays into this pacing and works against it.  A page of jumbled layout and overlapping panels first appears in the aftermath of the bus crash and gets a reprise in the second issue when coyotes attack the camp.  McNeil also works against the chaos of the dang image from Image Comicsers befalling the characters and the dense storyline with two-page spreads, applied with such care that they don’t feel like an affect, but serve as periods of reflection or respite from the pandemonium.

Read the rest at Paper Droids.