AWW2017: Bitten by Amanda Pillar

bitten

The city of Pinton has never been safe…and now a serial killer is on the loose.

Doctor Alice Reive is the city’s coroner, and she’s determined to help find the murderer. Enlisting the assistance of the Honorable Dante Kipling and city guard Elle Brown, they race to track down the killer, before another victim dies.

Hannah Romanov – Dante’s missing twin sister – has spent hundreds of years living on an isolated mountain. But her quiet life is thrown into chaos after she discovers a baby left in the wilds to die. Hannah will do anything to ensure the infant’s survival, even if it means travelling to the worst place in the world for her – Pinton.

Published by Pronoun.


An eARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. In addition, I beta read an earlier version of this book, and consider Amanda Pillar a friend and have worked with her as an editor. I have done my best to provide an impartial review.

This review is presented as part of my commitment to the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017.


Bitten is the second novel, and fourth instalment in Amanda Pillar’s Graced series (The previous instalments are the novel Graced (which I reviewed here) and the novellas Captive (reviewed here) and Survivor (reviewed here).

If you’ve read my reviews of the other works set in the Graced universe, you’ll know how much I love this universe. The books exist somewhere in the crossover of paranormal romance/urban fantasy – but if you’re turned off immediately by the mention of any of these genres, I encourage you to read anyway. Pillar’s use of even the most well-worn of tropes is fresh and new, and I suspect that this series could serve well as a gateway into UF/PR.

The world of the Graced books is fascinating – there are vampires and various types of wereanimal, and there also exist a subset of humans gifted with psychic powers, the Graced, their powers revealed by the possession of an eye colour other than brown. The world is far more complex, however, and even after four instalments, it feels as though there is much, much more to be revealed about the world.

Bitten occurs chronologically after the events of Graced,  and while it mostly stands on its own, reading Graced first helps set up the world, and the existing relationships between some characters who were protagonists in Graced, and are now secondary characters in Bitten. It is not necessary to have read the two novellas, but reading them definitely deepens the world in general (especially the information that’s revealed in Captive, which is referred to in a minor fashion in Bitten.)

While the worldbuilding is fascinating, Pillar’s real strength is in her characters and the relationships (and snark and banter…oh, so much wonderful banter) between them. Bitten mostly focuses on four characters – the coroner Alice Reive, Hannah, a Graced vampire, Fin, who can only be described as a rogue (sorry, Fin, but it’s true!) and his friend, Byrne, a werebear. I pretty much fell in love with every one of the characters over the course of the book – well, okay, I fell in love with Fin the minute he stepped onto the page. Bloody rogue types.

The book isn’t all about the romance, though. There is also a crime plot threading through everything, with a serial killer hunting vampires. This part of the book didn’t quite work as well for me as the relationships and character arcs (possibly because they’re just so stellar in their writing), but neither was it unsatisfying in any way.

It should also be noted that the book does use the soul mate/fated mate trope at one point, which is a trope which I am very wary of, since it often involves characters essentially losing their own self determination and can, at worst, essentially become a form of rape and/or abuse. I was very pleased with the way Pillar handled the use of the trope, with the involved characters still retaining their will and common sense. Many authors could learn a lot from the way she treats this kind of trope.

Overall, Bitten is another spectacular instalment in the Graced universe, and I recommend it (and the whole series) highly, most especially to readers who might be burned on on the same-old same-old paranormal books.

 

 

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