At first glance, you might think Blood Calls is a vampire novel, but you’d be wrong. At second glance, you might think it’s the story of a boy and his dragon, but you’d be only half-right. Just stop glancing, sit down, and read! This delightfully smart and witty adventure story cracks the tropes and sets a high standard for fantasy adventure.
I especially enjoy what I call ‘new eyes’ in storytelling, where we learn about the world through the eyes of characters exploring new lands and societies. First we meet Corbin, who’s been sobered up just long enough to be sent away to the country of Sunal as a ‘junior diplomat’, where it seems he’ll be wallowing in endless meetings, with occasional breaks to indulge in drink and debauchery. But there’s so much more in store for him and his bonded dragon pal, Blood. As Corbin slowly comes into his own, we explore the world, his dragon bond, and even flashbacks to his childhood right along with him.
He soon befriends a street urchin named Dante, who’s fashioned himself a small newspaper empire. Dante becomes another set of new eyes for us to see through.
And then there’s the magic. Lots of magic, complicated magic that’s intriguing without being confusing. And there’s battles, and swordplay, and a pretty love interest, of course – but author Charles D. Shell brings it all to life with a fresh approach. The heart of the story comes from the people who are tossed together by circumstances, and must learn to trust, respect, and even love each other. It’s not as sappy as it sounds! There’s lots of snark, sarcasm, and ‘oh crap what did I get into now’ action. That action slowly ramps up, ever higher, and never slides backwards. It’s a gasp-aloud, read one more chapter even though it’s already 2am, kind of book.
I have to mention that I rather enjoyed the use of modern language in place of the typical flowery fantasy talk, and the various crazy situations that border on the absurd, without becoming unbelievable. I highly recommend Blood Calls, and will be avidly watching for the next book in the series. Five stars!