Blood Rock is definitely an improvement upon its adult urban fantasy predecessor, “Frost Moon” in many ways. For one, the story picks up where it left off with having Dakota and Cinnamon, Dakota’s adopted weretiger daughter, bonding together before being thrown into the heart of another case where graffiti (you heard me) starts attacking people in violent ways and vampires are being killed off. Dakota has to piece together events all while maintaining her relationship with Cinnamon as well as a number of other relationships with the people she works with, including some romantic interests.
I found this a story with wonderful worldbuilding and visual imagery. Francis certainly knows his way around drawing captivating descriptions, and he opts to create his own unique world rather than drawing upon other realms established by peer adult urban fantasy writers. The urban fantasy/alternate universe settings are distinctly drawn and pulled me through the story. This actually has better overall structure (and less preachy tangents) than the first novel did, and it focuses on more abstract, illustrated threats (i.e. the menacing graffiti) and building upon the mystery/suspense of the identity of the graffiti culprit. However, there’s a lot of graphic violence, such as the killing off of some major characters to elicit emotions. I won’t spoil them here, but I definitely felt surprise at some of the events that transpired through the novel, but I didn’t necessarily get a chance to feel for these events as much as I could’ve. The pacing was sound, the link between the events and the emotional resonance wasn’t always fluid. Also, the descriptions of physics and such somewhat bogged down the prose for me in spurts, and made it a less quick read than it would’ve otherwise been.
I do think that the characters were distinctly drawn, and I had a clear idea of who they were in the scheme of the novel, though I wasn’t necessarily convinced by the romantic ties noted in the novel. The strongest relationship I saw in this novel was between Dakota and Cinnamon, and those two were worth seeing in their interactions through the course of the novel. Dakota seems more motherly and less forced on the scale of cool (the author shows her cool more than tells in this novel) here, and I enjoyed the transition.
I would certainly read more of Francis’ work for a quick, unique foray into his established urban fantasy realm, and I think others who enjoy the genre would find this an interesting read, even considering its caveats.
I received this as an ARC from Netgalley and the publisher Bell Bridge Books.
Overall score: 3/5