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Blood Blade (Skinners, Book 1) by Marcus Pelegrimas
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Harriet Klausner
Eos Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061463051
Date: 01 February 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Fantasy game designer Cole Warnecki requests vacation time from his boss Jason Sorenson of Digital Dreamers in order to recharge his batteries on a hunting trip in British Columbia. He just starts to relax when a monster crashes through the abode knocking him unconscious. When he awakens, he is the only survivor except for Gerald who is dying. Before he does, he asks Cole to call a number; whoever answers will connect him to Paige. Gerald wants him to tell her that a Full Blood attacked him. Cole is also to deliver a magical blade to Paige.

When Cole goes to Chicago to meet Paige, he is also introduced to the world of the Skinners; humans who fight to the death supernatural traitors who have broken the rules or killed humans. When he observes a female vampire biting a mortal, he calmly observes the phenomenon. They learn that there is a new Nymar (vampire) in town, Misonyk who has a grudge against the Skinners. He wants to rule the Chicago Nymar residents; to help him achieve his goal is paranormal mutt Henry, part vamp, part shapeshifter, and part miscellaneous unknown, but totally indestructible. He wants the Nymar to drink the blood of humans until they are totally drained. Misonyk insists doing that enables the vamp to capture that person's soul and with enough souls the vampire can transfer his essence into another body.

This breaks all the rules so Paige knows she must stop Misonyk and his minion Henry. She asks Cole to join the Skinners and to provide her with back-up on her mission. He agrees because what he has seen means he can not return to his mundane gaming lifestyle. Misonyk and Henry enter Janesville where the vampire tries to dominate the local supernatural populace. The two Skinners assisted by a psychic make a stand in the small-town; knowing failure means humans will no longer be at the top of the food chain.

Fans of Charlie Huston's vampire novels will want to read the exciting Blood Blade, a dark gritty horror noir. Marcus Pelegrimas' supernatural realm is fascinating with the representative species seeming genuine. There are three types of shapeshifters: the Full Blood are born able to change back and forth from human to wolf and back at will; the Half-Blood are bitten purebred humans who are monsters during the day, werewolves at night and never human; finally there are the mongrels who are any animals except wolves.

The intrepid Paige believes Cole has the inner strength to be a good Skinner as his warrior spirit leads him to fight, not get frightened when he learns of the supernatural world although his introduction to the paranormal enemy is a bit too smoothly handled by him. Still he believes what he can see and nobly wants to fight for humanity.

Even within the foreboding landscape, there is humor. The Skinners use as their answering service MEG (Midwestern Ectological Group) who believe in ghosts and other non-physical beings. In return the Skinners direct them to a haunted house and other minor otherworldly essences for them to examine. This is a win-win for each side. The first book in a trilogy, if Blood Blade is any indication as a guide to the quality of the next two tales, readers are for a creative action packed urban fantasy that is so fantastic readers will finish it in one sitting.

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