When I first read this book, the prose was very poor, but when I approached the author with specific problems (I’m an editor as well as a reviewer) She agreed to revise the book according to my suggestions. I didn’t have time to re-read the whole book, but I did look at the first couple of chapters. If, as the author assures me, the rest of the book has improved to the same degree, then she has followed my instructions and turned what was passive prose into something more active and engaging. What follows is my review of the story.
Oxford Blood is a new adult paranormal fantasy set at a version of Oxford University populated with good looking Vampires with nasty habits. I haven’t read vampire books for a while, having become rather jaded with them. It seemed to me that the paranormal genre had become flooded with various versions of the same stories, but I picked this one up because someone told me it was good.
Though not brilliant, it is indeed a good story, one that I think young adult readers who’re into vampires, parties and a bit of sex will enjoy a great deal. The characters are well drawn and easy to relate to, and though the vampires themselves are pretty much the same as they are in all modern vampire tales, the story itself, even with the common element of a love triangle, is quite unique.
It begins with Harriet’s arrival at Oxford and focuses, almost exclusively, on her social activities. It’s not long before she notices the plethora of extremely gorgeous boys and the reader realizes that they are vampires long before she does. Harriet grew up with her Aunt, her mother being just a glamorous woman who came to visit every now and then, but now, she learns that her mother is a vampire as well, and the wife of the head of the clan, a 2,000 year old vampire. Of course, this is all a shock, but it’s softened by the fact that Tom, the boy she happens to be hot for, is one of them.
The Cavaliers are a kind of secret society of vampires, posing as an exclusive social club, but what happens at the new recruits inductions is more like a horror story. Harriet’s friends become involved and if she can’t stop this ancient ritual, her best friend will die to complete her boyfriend’s transformation into a vampire. Can she stop it?
The first part of the book is primarily about Harriet discovering the truth, getting together with Tom and setting the Oxford scene. It certainly is a great place to set a vampire story and adds a great deal of atmosphere to the story. I did find myself skimming some parts of the book, mostly due to weaknesses in the writing and the fact that I don’t find endless parties as interesting as Harriet. However, the last third of the book had some surprising twists and the end was excellent.
The plot, pacing and structure are good, and there is potential here for the series to develop some teeth, pardon the pun.
If you’re looking for an entertaining vampire story, then you’ll most likely enjoy this.