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I Belong


Review: Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter

Title: Blood of the Earth

Author: Faith Hunter

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Soulwood (Book #1)

Publication Date: August 2, 2016

Format: Paperback, 358 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451473302 (Roc/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451473301 (Roc/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Stephanie

Synopsis:

Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth.

When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.

Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.

Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…

Quick & DirtyA spinoff from the Jane Yellowrock series, this first book in the Soulwood series draws you in and doesn’t let go, despite not being as action-packed as its predecessor.

Opening Sentence: Edgy and not sure why, I carried the basket of laundry off the back porch.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Nell Ingram grew up in a cult, leaving it when she was a teenager to escape marriage to a much older and repugnant man. In the subsequent years, she has basically become a hermit, staying off the grid, while worrying about her sisters who still remain in the cult. She’s also done her best to keep secret the fact that she can interact with and influence the land that surrounds her. After helping Jane Yellowrock with a case, Nell’s special talents come to the attention of PsyLED, the paranormal investigative branch of law enforcement, this particular unit headed by  none other than Jane’s ex, Rick LaFleur. PsyLED requires Nell’s help to see if an anti-paranormal organization has people hiding within the cult that borders Nell’s land. Four teenage girls are missing, and it is imperative that they are found before it’s too late. But finding them means going back to the place that still haunts Nell’s nightmares. Will she be able to do it?

I was an odd combination of nervous and excited to read this book. First, the Jane Yellowrock series is one of my favorites, so spending more time in her world, but with new characters, was an interesting prospect to me. On the other hand, my least favorite Yellowrock character, Rick LaFleur, was mentioned in the book description, and I was really hoping to never see him again. Also, I didn’t really start liking the Jane Yellowrock series until Book 3, so I was worried that this first book in a new series would suffer from the same problems I felt the first couple books in the Yellowrock series did.

I’m happy to say that my fears were unfounded. By the time I finished the second chapter, I was completely immersed in the story. It was a refreshing change to go from Jane – someone who is confident in her ability to kick ass – to Nell, who is still figuring out what her powers are and realizing that she doesn’t have to wait for someone to rescue her. It definitely set this spinoff series apart from its predecessor.

On the subject of Rick LaFleur, I am also happy to report that he’s not so bad when he’s not a love interest. I still don’t think he’s entirely likeable, but neither does Nell, so that really made it easier for me to tolerate his presence. I even occasionally found myself liking him, which never happened in the Yellowrock series.

On the slightly negative side of things, if you’re looking for an action-packed thrill ride, you won’t find it here. There are action scenes, but a lot of the book is dealing with Nell making peace with her past and finding the courage to go back to the cult in order to find the missing girls. The kidnappings themselves take a back seat to that journey. It’s still an entertaining ride, but you’re not going to get the action scenes you do in the Yellowrock series.

All in all, I felt this was a great first book in this spinoff series. Since it’s set in an already established world, there’s not a lot world building that needs to be done, so we’re not bogged down with a lot of explanations on how everything works in this world. The characters are great and make you want to spend more time with them. I was really sad to finish the book because it meant I had to leave all of these new characters behind for the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here!

Notable Scene:

I took in a slow breath and whispered, “Mindy?”

“Yup. But I like Mud, because I can grow things so good. Is you her? The one that could grow most anything? The one who left?”

“Yes,” I whispered.

She was my sister. I hadn’t seen her since she was a toddler.

I realized that my sisters knew more about me than I knew about them.

“They say you done got married in the eyes of the law. That you took land that shoulda gone to the Purdys. That you’un’s independent and read books and live alone instead of in a big house with a bunch of women and young’uns.”

I had no idea at all how to reply to that, so I just nodded my head and realized how much she looked like Mama, all long-limbed and skinny. And how much she looked like me.

“You like it? Living all lonesome? I think I’d like it. I like the quiet. I like planting things too, making ’em grow.” Her eyes went bright and intense. “If Mama says I can, can I come visit?”

Something unknown moved deep inside me, something I had no name for. So much was new and uncertain since Rick LaFleur and his mate came to my door–so much of the strangeness within me. “Yes,” I whispered again.

“You don’t talk much, do you?”

A chuckle burst from my lips, quickly stifled. “No. Not much.” She grabbed my hand, squeezed, and held on. Something slow but powerful passed between us, like the growth of roots in the soil, like the slow process of rock or glaciers beginning to cleave. Like nothing I had ever felt before. And then she let go and the feeling was gone. I shook my head.

“You’un’ll talk if I come visit. Mama says I can make a turnip talk when I’m of a mind to. Daddy tells me I’m to be seen and not heard. I think that’s stupid. I gotta go.” She whirled, her skirts flying, and in an instant, she was gone.

“I think it’s stupid too,” I whispered to the empty place where she had stood.

Soulwood Series:

1. Blood of the Earth

2. Curse on the Land

3. Flame in the Dark

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FTC Advisory: Penguin/Roc provided me with a copy of Blood of the Earth. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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