Monday, February 11, 2013

Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance (whether for adults or teens) have taken on a lot of baggage post-Twilight: attractive monsters, love triangles, power hierarchies, destined mates, curiously irresistible protagonists and wildly improbable happily-ever-afters. A generation ago, a romance with the monster would have been teased, but now, dear reader, she has married him.

Blood Oranges has taken that baggage and run. The other way. When Siobhan Quinn accidentally falls into the role of monster hunter, she finds herself part of an old grudge match between two powerful players. Her mentor, Mean Mr. B, disappears suddenly and leaves Quinn to walk the thin line between hunter and monster, dual roles she is unlikely to survive.

In the world of Siobhan Quinn, monsters are grotesque (though not always unattractive) and becoming a vampire/werewolf doesn't make you a special snowflake; it makes you a killer. All of the players are amoral, at best, and no one is out to save anyone else.

I enjoyed Quinn's voice in this book, her unreliability and constant need to question everything. The plot, such as it was, was less interesting than the world-building and Tierney's constant interrogation of genre tropes.

Funnily, the notion of getting back to the basics of horror tropes (our vampires are scary, not sparkly!) is a well-established trope in itself. The retreat to a darker plot and tone is a well-worn device; when it comes to monsters, attractive and otherwise, the pendulum swings back and forth. I would love to see more explorations of these tropes, in both their fantasy and horror aspects.

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