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Twice Bitten - Chloe Neill

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Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy / Author: Chloe Neill / Paperback / 368 Pages / Book is published 2010-10-14 by Gollancz

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      23.02.2011 18:40
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      The best series entry so far...

      ** Despite what the title suggests, this is actually book three in the Chicagoland Vampires series.
      Book one is titled 'Some Girls Bite' and book two is 'Friday Night Bites' **


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      Basic background information
      (The vampire versus shape-shifters edition)
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      In sixteenth century Europe humans discovered the existence of vampires and [in similar style to the witch trials] began a mass slaughter. During the mass panic and blood bath vampires sold each other out and by the end of 'The Clearing' hundreds of thousands of vampires were dead.

      Then in the seventeenth century the same thing happened again. This time the vampires asked the shape-shifters for help, however the shape-sifters turned their back and carried on pretending to be humans as most of the remaining vampire population died horrible deaths.


      Of cause since vampires can live forever there are still many around who have first-hand knowledge
      of the torture and had friends who died in the Clearings, so most vampires hate the shifters. The shifters themselves blame the vampires for allowing themselves to be discovered and don't think they didn't have any right to ask them to expose themselves and place themselves in danger too.

      Fast forward to today and the third outing of the vampires; There are fractions of humans who are afraid of vampires and want them eradicated. Do to these growing human prejudice and the fact that the episodes in the previous books have suggested that a supernatural war is coming most of the leading vampires are once again attempting to gain the shifters support, however many shifters don't want to risk their families and themselves because the vampires have yet again been exposed.


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      In a nutshell
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      Gabriel Keene, head of the North American Central Pack - which basically means that he's the Alpha's Alpha - has come to Chicago for a convocation, where the shape-shifters will get to vote on whether to stay in their homes and face the fast approaching war or if they should all decamp to Alaska and not get involved in the vampires latest problems.

      As Ethan is the oldest and strongest out of the Chicago vampire Masters he meets with Gabriel - attempting to ally himself with him - and in a good will gesture lends him a special bodyguard for his pre-convocation meeting with his fellow Alphas; Yup, you've guessed it, he loans him Merit. And himself.

      Naturally things don't go smoothly for anyone. It quickly becomes apparent that someone is plotting to assassinate Gabriel, so Merit and Ethan have to stick close to him and Merit will get to witness the old prejudice the vampires and shifters harbour for each other first hand...


      When she's not working Merit is getting to do twice as much work with her new trainer - Ethan. He has taken over from Catcher as we wants her to continue her training with a fellow vampire to help her to control her powerful inner vamp and utilise her enhanced senses and since he's the strongest around he's stepped up to the plate.


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      My opinion
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      Admittedly, the whole issue of vampires and shape-shifters not liking each other has been done to death in books, films and TV, but author Chloe Neill has come up with a somewhat reasonable explanation for this as well as giving numerous hints at various future plot twists, so I didn't mind this tired cliche coming up. I'm able to see both sides views on past events and also understand how both sides feel about the uncertain future [although the vampires win in my view as they're the ones who were tortured and killed].

      Throughout the series we've known that one of the minor supporting character's [Jeff] is a shape-shifter, so I'm pleased that the packs have finally been introduced - widening the species pool - rather then just being spoken about and referred to. We also get to see some of the laws and politics that happen in the shifters world, which promises conflicts with the vampire politics... God; I'm actually saying that I find politics interesting.


      Merit also spends a lot more time with her colleagues in Cadogan House [compared to the earlier books] which fascinated me, I especially liked learning more about Ethan the person, rather then just getting more of Ethan the leader. Guards Luc and Lindsay are more fleshed out in this book as well and I'm really keen on getting to learn more about the relationship and past that they share in future books. The author has now found the perfect balance between Merit's home and work life and most of the secondary characters share a large amount of page space with her, as well as a new [vampire] character being introduced to keep things new.


      I also want to mention that when you re-read the books in the series you always pick up on something new; Neill really knows how to toss in little tid-bits and teasers.


      I don't have any real issues with the plot or writing, my only tiny niggle is that I'm not sure if the author means shape-shifters in the traditional sense of the terms [they're able to take the form of any animal they want] or if she views them as weres [they can only change into one animal] and they're meant to be the basis for human myths and legends. I can appreciate that there is really no opportunity to clarify it here without adding one of those really fake we-all-know-this-but-we're-discussing-it-anyway-to-fill-in-gaps-for-the-reader character conversations, but it did niggle away at me. But it doesn't distract from the story, so I decided not to remove a star.



      ** Book four in the series is titled 'Hard Bitten' [released in May 2011] and book five is titled 'Drink Deep' [released in November 2011] **

      There will be seven books in the Chicagoland Vampires series and the as-yet-untitled books six and seven will both be released in 2012.

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