I have thoroughly enjoyed many of Nora Roberts’ earlier works, but her most recent offerings have been hit and miss for me. Blood Brothers is the first book in a new trilogy that includes magic, demons, and connections to the past. Unfortunately, this combination yielded only a somewhat average story that was another miss for me.
Caleb, Fox, and Gage were born at the same time on the seventh day of the seventh month in 1977. Although from very different backgrounds, they have been best friends their whole lives. To celebrate their tenth birthday, the three hike to the Pagan Stone deep in the woods of Hawkins Hollow. After binging on beer, cigarettes, skin magazines, and junk food, the boys decide to become blood brothers at midnight on the day of their birth. When their blood mixes, something unexpected happens: a demon is released, the boys receive immunity from illness or harm, they get separate telepathic gifts, and are each given a third of a bloodstone.
We catch up with the boys almost twenty-one years later and learn that for seven days every seven years hell reigns in Hawkins Hollow. People go mad and suicides, murders, and violence increase dramatically. The men have tried to stop the madness that they released, but have not been able to vanquish it. Unfortunately, as the time for the next Seven grows nearer, it is clear that the power of the demon has grown. It shows itself and causes trouble much earlier than anticipated.
Quinn Black is a writer who specializes in the weird. When she hears about the strange occurrences in Hawkins Hollow, she packs her bag and goes to find her next story. She never expects to be an actual part of the battle between good and evil, but it soon becomes clear that she has connections to the town’s history. She brings an outsider’s perspective to the problem and digs into the past to try to figure out exactly what happened hundreds of years ago when a man first trapped the demon at the Pagan Stone.
The best part of this story for me was the interaction between the three men, as boys and as grown-ups. Roberts has always written convincing male relationships and has done so again between these three very different, but deeply connected, men. The additional relationships, however, felt forced. Cal and Quinn hit it off and quickly become involved. While there were times when the reader is told that the two feel deeply for each other, I just didn’t see it. The majority of the first half of the book deals with the demon/magical aspect of the tale and a relationship forms between Cal and Quinn before a real connection develops.
The friendships between the women also seemed forced. Over-confident dialogue is used to bring a feeling of togetherness that otherwise would not be there. Many of the characters use phrases such as “You feel (this way)” or “You think (this)” to make it seem like everybody automatically knows each other, but it doesn’t ring true given the circumstances. It is as if, going into the trilogy, we are shown the pairings that will occur and it is just assumed that strong feelings and bonds exist without enough pages devoted to the actual building of the various relationships. Also, having read Roberts many times in the past, there is a repetition factor involved with these characters. I have seen these character types before and the conversations that ensue are inevitably similar.
However, the demon angle was new and gave me the creeps a couple of times. The demon can create illusions that aren’t really happening, but are incredibly disturbing and terrifying just the same. The magic and link between the six characters, and the three couples in particular, needed to fight the evil is not so new. Rather than a couple of creepy glimpses of the demon, its influence interrupts many moments and steals the show for the majority of the book. Not that this was a bad thing; in fact, it saved the book from being entirely average.
While this book certainly isn’t bad, it’s not captivating and new. With an underdeveloped relationship and a fairly rehashed plot, it is an average story. But, given that it is Roberts, the writing fares somewhat better than average and the paranormal side of Blood Brothers was rather good. Nevertheless, I’m not interested enough in the other two eventual couples to seek out their stories. I’ll patiently wait for something a little more original from Roberts and re-read some of her earlier works while I wait.