Hot Blood by Tony Richards
Samhain Publishing (September 2014)
362 pages, e-book $6.50, paperback $17.42
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Hot Blood is the story of Tanya Merrit, a Ykraal. Ykraal are night based creatures who burn in the sunlight and require the blood of human beings for strength. They are not, however, vampires. Ykraal have a more symbiotic relationship with their victims, and Tanya is often seen seducing and making love to her victims before drinking their blood, mesmerizing them in the process so there is no pain or fear. When Tanya’s girlfriend, Kathy, is stolen away by a true, parasitic vampire, Wolkran, the novel follows Tanya as she chases Wolkran across the globe in an attempt to stop him and get Kathy back.
For readers looking for an international adventure story, Hot Blood delivers. Tony Richards obviously is a well-seasoned traveler, and is able to paint vivid pictures of various international cities with his words. Whether it’s the slums or jungles of a Central American country or the ancient streets of Prague, readers will truly feel like they are in a foreign country. The characters that Richards places in these locales — a corrupt Central American general who conspires with Wolkran; a guerilla fighter who allies with Tanya in her fight against Wolkran; a professor in Prague who was once a priest but lost his faith—all make sense and add interesting subplots and foils for the novel. Richards very much knows how to write a solid adventure, with one character chasing the other around the world.
The problem is that Tanya’s motivation of retrieving Kathy reads as flimsy at best. We are given scant pages of their relationship before Kathy is kidnapped by Wolkran, and their relationship seems fairly loose and open. It’s certainly doesn’t read like the relationship one would hunt a supernatural entity halfway across the world to save. Furthermore, when Kathy is turned into a vampire by Wolkran, and begins brutally murdering people, Tanya is hesitant to act because of her love and passion for Kathy, truly believing she can save Kathy and their relationship. This love is never developed while Kathy is alive and well with Tanya, so it seems like a false emotion when the climactic final scenes of the novel play out.
Overall, Hot Blood is an engaging adventure story between two supernatural, blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Richards very much tries to play up the good-versus-evil battle in this story, and it works up to a point. The lack of motivation on the part of the protagonist, though, and her questionable ethical choices made in the pursuit of her goals leads to a murky narrative. It’s an interesting novel placed in some exotic locales, and if readers are willing to suffer through some one-dimensional characters in the pursuit of international adventure, they won’t be disappointed.
(Tony Richards is a dark fantasy/horror author from England. Although he has written science fiction, mystery, and even mainstream stories, he is principally an author of supernatural, dark fantasy, and horror fiction. He has twice been nominated, first in 1988 for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for The Harvest Bride, and then in 2008 for the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection for Going Back. He is married to Louise Richards, and lives in London.)