The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Geek Chic (Review: Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey)

Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles, #4)Bleeding Hearts           
Alyxandra Harvey        
Bloomsbury 2011

Bleeding Hearts is the fourth book in Alyxandra Harvey's Drake Chronicles. If you haven't read the previous books in the series then this review may contain spoilers. You have been warned.

Christabel doesn’t get Violet Hill. Having come from the big city the hometown of her cousin Lucy seems like a quiet backwater yet Lucy, her parents and her boyfriend, Nicolas are adamant that the town is a den of danger, violence and gang warfare. It all seems unlikely to Christa – she’s ridden the subway after midnight, knows how to use her steel-capped combat boots and has dealt with an alcoholic, neglectful mother for years... surely there can be nothing to scare her in this quiet little backwater? Lucy, of course, knows otherwise. Nicolas and his siblings are still under constant attack from the vicious Hel-Blar and Solange is regularly up for assassination by persons unknown. As Christabel draws closer to the Drakes (geek-boy Connor especially) it becomes harder hide the fact that, in Violet Hill, gang warfare is the least you have to fear…

In Bleeding Hearts, Alyxandra Harvey has continued with her split narrative style this time implementing the voices of newcomer Christabel, brother number four, Connor and Lucy. As with previous books in the series, the narrative structure works extremely well allowing the author to view the incredibly detailed world created around the Drakes from three entirely different perspectives.  

Christabel is a lovely character. While she’s essentially pretty tough she also has a mellower side, wrapping herself up in words. She’s a great lover of historical fiction and of poetry and quotes it constantly (peppering Bleeding Hearts with some really beautiful lines). She’s also pretty smart and quickly realises that Lucy and chums are keeping something from her. When she finally finds herself in the thick of the action she very much takes everything in her stride, attracted by the history of the vampires she encounters. While untrained in the art of kicking ass, she’s pretty game when it comes to attempting to stake things and is really just completely likable.  

And Connor… well, I've never met a geek I didn't love and so the lovely Connor is right up my street. Twin of the confident, suave Quinn he’s almost his polar opposite, preferring computers and comics to seeking out the ladies. He also seems slightly, well, nicer than the other Drake brothers who all have a bit of an edge to them (not in a bad way, but, y’know – vampires).  However, when his less human nature does shine briefly through he’s actually pretty frightening. You still would, though. Swoon.

I must admit to heaving a weary sigh on realising that Lucy would be co-narrator of Bleeding Hearts - in the previous titles I'd found her naivity irritating and she has been downright in her lack of awareness of her own vulnerability. However, Lucy has finally gotten herself a clue and realised that hanging around with vampires, nevermind having one as your boyfriend, is really pretty dangerous. She's learnt to defend herself, started talking sense instead of wittering rubbish and is finally proving herself of worthy of the Drakes respect as well as of their undoubted fondness. While Lucy still has her moments of flippancy, she's lost the silliness that always seemed rather incongruous alongside her knowledge of vampires. Her friendship with Solange becomes increasingly interesting during Bleeding Hearts and the dynamic between them is very compelling.

As with the previous novels in the series, the basic plot of Bleeding Hearts revolves around a budding relationship. Also as previously seen, the romance is fairly intense and moves extremely quickly. However, it's written with such humour and tenderness that this can be forgiven providing the reader is  happy to suspend reality for a while (and, let's face it, this is a story about vampires). What gives the book an edge, as with the entire series, is the intrigue of the vampire court, the machinations of it's various factions, the horror of the Hel Blar and the core story of Solange and her destiny - a destiny that is looking darker by the second. Underneath the love stories, action and hilarity, these books really do have an underlying murk that never allows readers to sit completely easy. As always, Alyxandra Harvey's writing is a joy to read - her return to familiar territory in the Drakes certainly reads more easily than her recent departure in Haunting Violet (enjoyable, but not of the same ilk by any means) and reader's only complaints must surely be that her books are so short. Yet, while slim in size they manage to pack a real punch and are clearly building towards an entirely unpredictable, though surely hugely exciting finale.  Bring it on!

Bleeding Hearts is now available.  Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with a copy of this book to review.


Unknown said…
You didn't love Haunting Violet?
I adore Alyxandra with a capital A
Great review and I am glad Lucy grew on you cos I really like her :D
Dot said…
Not read this one yet but sounds good!
Vicki said…
I haven't read this one yet but I DO love this series. I'm glad to hear Lucy grew on you this time, I thought I was the only person who found her irritating.
Anonymous said…
I actually liked Lucy. I thought she was funny. I know she may have been a it naive, but at least she isn't a whimpering idiot. I agree with everything else.
WHY ARE THEY SOOOO SHORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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