Title: Blood Rock
SubTitle: Book Two, THE SKIN DANCER SERIES
Author: Anthony Francis
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Pub Date: 08/16/2011
Category: Urban Fantasy
Blood Rock, like its prequel Frost Moon – my review here – is the best of urban fantasy, gritty, creative, engaging and with a unique premise – graffiti that kills. Francis creates a world where not only are witches, werekin ( eg werewolves, werebears, weretigers, werestags and so on) and vampires known, but also tattoos can be magic. When inked on an ordinary person, they can move, sparkle and maybe lift off, but when inked on a skindancer like Dakota Frost, they have enormous magical power.
Dakota is a magical tattooist and the epitome of a kick-ass heroine and this time her talents are required to deal with Graffiti that comes to life in the dark heart of Atlanta’s oldest cemetery and kills her friend, and one of the city’s best loved vampires, before her eyes. And this is just the first of many. The graffiti ends up being responsible by entrapment or fire for around 80 deaths, most of them vampires and several Dakota’s close friends.
Imagine graffiti coming off the walls, grabbing you and ripping you apart. Or if you’re a vampire, just holding you there until the sun comes up and you disappear in a fiery blaze. Because Dakota knows about magic in tattoos, she’s the obvious person to help sort out the problem, but this is too big even for her powers and so she begins a search to find out how it works and who’s behind the spreading graffiti.
This is no easy task and in the course of her investigation, through no fault of her own, she manages to alienate the werekin, offend the vampires and create police suspicion of her every action. Added to this, Dakota may lose custody of her “adopted” weretiger daughter, Cinnamon, who is taken from her and put into foster care until the case can be heard in court. The deeper Dakota gets into the mire that surrounds the mystery of the graffiti, the less chance she has of winning the court case, but if she doesn’t sort it out, Cinnamon might be the next victim.
It’s a tough ride for Dakota, shit on top of shit and the balance between this-is-great and this-is-too-much, was close to the edge, especially when the author did something very nasty to a character I loved and one of the few bright lights for Dakota. I didn’t hold it against him though because the story made up for it with its twists and turns and great ending.
One of the things in this book that sets Dakota apart from other urban fantasy heroines is her status as a mom. It makes for a more complex character, and one that is easy to relate to when the other aspects of her existence may not be. The subplot of her relationship with her adopted daughter gives depth to the story.
Some of the things that blow me away about this series are the complex politics of the vampire clans, how Dakota manages to negotiate it, and the physics behind the magic. I don’t know how true it is, but the author has it all worked out, it engages my intellect and gives an apparently logical basis for the magic that is rare and refreshing.
If you’re into urban fantasy, this is a must read, and I think it’s suitable for anyone over the age of about 16 if they like their stories gritty. There isn’t any really explicit sex and the violence isn’t too bad compared to what our kids are watching on TV these days. I give it 5 stars
Visit the author at http://dakotafrost.com.
Amazon Blood Rock