Reviewed by Joanna Celeste
Full Blooded (Jessica McClain: Book One)
By Amanda Carlson
Available in Paperback, Kindle, Audible audio book
“Everyone knows” werewolves are born as twin males, so when Jessica McClain is the twin to her brother, Tyler, and they are the children of the Alpha, an unknown element is introduced into a community that is naturally superstitious and resistant to change. It doesn’t help that there’s a myth a female were might be the daughter of Cain and a threat. But it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting when Jessica—who has lived as a human with some supernatural strength and senses but otherwise just human, for twenty-six-years—changes.
What she changes into is something that no one has seen for eons and it sparks a series of events that will rip her world and sculpt it into something she never could have anticipated.
Ms. Carlson’s debut novel, Full Blooded, is refreshing and dynamic; this is the first time that I’ve been inside the head of a female werewolf, and I love the way the wolf is characterized as a separate entity from Jessica, the fundamentally-human, who is trying to get a grip on her change, the ramifications of what she’s become, and this blasted animal in her head who keeps nudging into her consciousness and demanding ridiculous things, like eating people and jumping the hottest guy in the room. So to watch their relationship as they come to terms with each other and form a symbiotic partnership is really fun. The wolf is present mostly with gestures (not unfamiliar to a dog) and by flashing pictures, but there are also one-word descriptions to define instinct, and that gives the pacing a particular edge. Full Blooded is also infused with romance, mystery, horror, suspense, and some awesome fight scenes, and there wasn’t really a good place to put it down.
A word to the wise for those of us who are wary of gruesome torture scenes in our fiction, this has a psychopathic immortal sadist of a mercenary (who has a rapid change of heart that manages to be believable in context) and the description of things he has done is nightmare-inducing. I read a few sentences of it, because I’m honor-bound to read an entire work of fiction that I review, but when I saw where it was going I covered the page and tried to scan without actually seeing anything, it was that terrifying, but thankfully there is sufficient advance notice to know when to flip to the next chapter. There are also other elements of horror, like vampires with skin that melts off like hot wax.
For those readers who hate to be left hanging for a whole year, be advised this has an abrupt cliffhanger ending that imitates the feeling of TV season finales, and will frustrate those who are looking for a standalone read. The sequel (Hot Blooded, out now) has a similarly annoying end, and I expect the third in the series (Cold Blooded, to be released in October) will leave us on the edge of our seats saying, “You are kidding, you can’t end like that! And now I have to wait a year to find out where this is going?” Given that the series could easily last ten books at the rate it is progressing (creating such a vast and fascinating universe) we could be waiting a very long time for a satisfactory ending. Readers like me are hereby warned; you may want to wait the hypothetical seven-odd years and read the whole series at once.
Despite the occasional gruesome imagery and the abrupt ending, I loved Full Blooded and the texture of this world. I look forward to reading this series and all future work by Ms. Carlson.
About the reviewer: Joanna Celeste enjoys telling stories in many mediums, as a book reviewer, author, journalist and poet. Visit her at: http://joannaceleste.com