A small caveat before we dig into this review. I originally obtained a copy of this book from Netgalley for review in the YAFG (which seemed a safe assumption given Priest’s other line of books). While the book was fantastic, it is decidedly not a YA book. Not a bad thing, just a much needed clarification. This review also appears on The Fantasy Guide at http://fantasyguide.stormthecastle.com/reviews/hellbent.htm – Now on to the review!
Hellbent was my first foray into the worlds of Cherie Priest. I’ve heard wonderful things about her steampunk series, the Clockwork Century, but of her vampire series, beginning with Bloodshot, I’d heard very little.
Let me put that to rest.
If you’re just looking for all that glitters, this isn’t the spot. Nor is Priest’s take on vampires entirely horrific, though. What she is is blunt and snarky and very engaging.
You can almost forget that Ray (Raylene) is a vampire, except maybe when she’s rescuing a kitten that’s tracked through a crime scene because its paws smell so good, what with all that fresh blood. Ray is a thief. A very, very good thief, who’s hired to track down some magical artifacts and relive their current owner of them. The maniac witch that’s threatening to bring down heaven and hell with them is just a complication in the plan, right?
The other major plot threads of the novel center around blind Ian (another vampire) and his former House, and Adrian’s (a human) search for what happened to his sister. While a lot of the historical details to these plots is left unsaid, enough context was given (and even an outright “This is what happened before” blurt) that you didn’t feel lost if you hadn’t read the first book. It also didn’t feel like Priest overly did the recap, as most of it was up front early on, letting the story progress on its own from there.
Hellbent was a splendid mix of action and comedy, and of course magic, vampires, ghouls, and some tasty, bloody kitten paws. Probably a few too many jokes about the objects Ray is hired to steal (I’d hate to be the one to reveal that spoiler), but other than that a solid, fun read.