Laws of the Blood: The Hunt
I’ve heard many positive comments about Susan Sizemore’s Laws of the Blood vampire series, and being a tremendous fan of vampire fiction, I was thrilled to find Laws of the Blood: The Hunt, the novel that began it all. But as I began to read my excitement faded and I continued turning the pages only because I had to. If it weren’t for all the positive buzz about the later books in the series, The Hunt would have been my first and last excursion into Sizemore’s universe
Selim is the Enforcer of the Law – vampiric law, that is. His main job is keeping the Los Angeles’ vampires (or Stigoi, as they call themselves) in line while keeping his human companion Siri safe. Picture a tough as nails cop with a frightening mouthful of razor sharp teeth and you have Selim. He is also in charge of the Hunt and determines not only when and where his vampires will eat, but which humans will become vampire prey as well. Humans, you see, are little more than vampire meat in this story, unless they are lucky enough to become a vampire sex slave or a “companion” (but those chosen few usually have powerful psychic powers). Selim decides how many victims each “nest” (a group of vampires and their companions) get to hunt; his decision is final. Many of the vampires resent him because he’s so stingy with the fresh meat. It doesn’t help matters any that he has denied them a hunt for so long that they are now dangerously close to losing any semblance of control.
Selim is a vampire with too much on his plate. While arranging the hunt numerous other problems plague Selim. His longtime human companion Siri cannot understand why he no longer shares her bed. Has he tired of her? Fallen out of love? She doesn’t know, and Selim refuses to talk with her about it. He has a reason, and it’s a pretty good one, but his refusal to talk leads Siri to doubt him. She feels rejected and unloved and begins to keep a few secrets of her own. Then there is an interesting and sometimes amusing subplot about a lovestruck strig (a loner vampire who lives outside the law) who Selim reluctantly takes under his wing. Also woven into the story is another subplot about the first Dhamphir (half human and half vampire) born in 500 years, also under Selim’s protection. Young Sebastian appears normal and harmless enough but the last Dhamphir born grew up to be frightening enough to strike fear in the heart of vampires everywhere. To say the vampires want little Sebastian dead before he grows up to be a big baddie is an understatement. As if all of this weren’t enough for even a super vamp like Selim to handle he also discovers a threat that may expose the entire vampire society to the human world. Did I mention that this book is only 282 pages long? Whew, subplot overload, anyone?
I like nothing better than a richly created, intense dark fantasy and though The Hunt has its dark moments, it is a difficult read from the get-go. The reader is literally thrown into Sizemore’s world – and not very gently either. The plot skips around from subplot to subplot while laws, politics and terms meaningless (to me) are thrown about with little or no explanation or background. This managed to be confusing and annoying for a good part of the story. Eventually things were clarified and the world was fleshed out but it was tough going there for a while. Unfortunately the characters aren’t nearly as fleshed out. How could they be with so much going on? Worse, though, was the fact that there wasn’t a truly sympathetic character in this huge cast. This is a story about the bad guys and the badder guys. You won’t find any sexy bad boys with the heart of a poet here. The majority of characters are basically monsters whose emotions aren’t put out on the page for all to see. So there’s a little sex, a little violence and a little gore but none of it packs any real emotional punch. Too bad because there was so much potential.
Although this story apparently lays the groundwork for the “Laws of Blood” world I can only recommend adding it to your collection as a point of reference for the sequels. As a standalone novel it had too much filler and not nearly enough meat to wholly satisfy even this mere human.