It is funny to consider an urban fantasy to be “charming” but that is just what Dirty Blood is – blood, guts, gore, murder and all. Without looking up how it is placed on the genre ladder, I would say that this qualifies as young adult, or new adult, but I found it extremely readable as an adult urban fantasy novel as well. Tara is 17-years-old, but she seems more mature, while still throwing the occasional temper tantrum. Of course, if I were her, I would have thrown a fit and fallen down in it at the way she is treated by those around her.
You see, Tara thinks that she is just a normal girl, with a normal boyfriend she has been friends with most of her life. Well, until he turned into the football obsessed moron who ditches their dates for recruiters, agents and interviews. But nevertheless, normal school, normal activities, normal life. That is, until a girl turns into a wolf right in front of her and proceeds to try her best to rip Tara’s throat out. From that point on, you can toss ‘normal’ straight out the window and go for spectacularly weird all the way around. For Tara is a Hunter, from a long line of Hunters. Genetic killers, born to kill werewolves.
As Tara’s life becomes more and more surreal, she begins to realize that her whole life has been a lie, and that she has been left open to the perils of her blooming talents and the scent of Hunter that the wolves can sense, with no training to help her survive. While her mother may have been ‘protecting’ her, she has also left her open to attack with no defense.
This is a very fast paced read. Tara is thrown into the metaphorical deep end of the pool, left to struggle to learn to fight and kill with the help of member of “The Cause” a group of Hunters and Werewolves who are trying to stop the fighting between the breeds – to create peace from the ashes of war. It is a lot for a 17-year-old to take in – especially when her mother is determined to bury her head in the sand and pretend that Tara can simply spend her life on the run, hiding from those who would kill her. Or would use her for their own ends. For Tara is something more than a Hunter, and what she is puts her at odds with both sides.
There is a love interest in the story, and it is incredibly well done. Her new boyfriend, Wes, is very special himself, a “Dirty Blood,” a hybrid of Wolf and Hunter, an abomination to those who would keep the war going to appease their own hatreds and superstitions. With a small group of friends around them, Wes and Tara have a hard job ahead of them, Tara’s harder than anyone’s as she tries to overcome the ‘protection’ of those around her which actually does more harm than good.
Overall, I would recommend this for any UF fan, male or female. I don’t normally care for YA and all the attendant ‘sturm und drang’ but this is not your typical YA. Tara is a great hero – she is strong and brave while still showing her lack of training and the shock and fear that such a tremendous change to her life, along with her fear for the safety of those she loves engenders. Of course, my favorite part of the book is during “the” big battle scene (there are several in the book) when her grandmother walks into a building full of warring Wolves and Hunters and commences to staking Wolves as if she is picking daisies. Awesome.
I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. The next book in the series is Cold Blood. Tara has been shipped off to Hunter Boarding School, where she will be safe and cozy and well-trained. Well, the well-trained thing might happen. The rest of it? Well, that is highly doubtful….