Red-Headed Stepchild (Sabina Kane)
by Jaye Wells
Review by Steve Sawicki
Orbit Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316037761
Date: 01 April 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Jaye Wells wades into the supernatural romance field, rewriting the vampire/werewolf legends yet again in this, her debut novel. Sabina Kane is a half breed, her vampire mother mated with her magic using father. Both parents died and Sabina is raised by her grandmother, one of the three ruling members of the vampire council. Sabina has been trained as an assassin and the book opens with her finishing up a job yet tasked with one that is much harder, the killing of a friend now labeled a traitor.
Sabina does the deed but the seed of doubt has been planted. Meeting with her grandmother, who has nothing but disdain for Sabina, she learns that she is to be tasked with the killing of an individual who is attempting to unite vampires, magic users and faeries. The vampire sees this as a threat and Sabina is sent off to do her job.
The vampire legends have been revised so many times that it's getting hard to remember all the variances. In this case Vampires exist along with magic users and faerie folk, although the three war frequently apparently. Vampires are the result of Cain's mating with Lilith and all vampires are red-heads. They can also be out in sunlight, eat garlic and are not afraid of holy symbols. They can be killed by applewood and, apparently, knives. The older they are the more powerful they are, although apparently this power is not all that much an advantage since the old vampires don't seem all that much harder to kill. Humans are, for the most part, oblivious to all of this and are pretty much just a backdrop that can be ignored.
Wells does a pretty good job with developing her character and her world in an environment where it is easy to get confused about what kinds of supernaturals we're reading about now and what's different about them. She writes in a style that is reminiscent of Laurell K. Hamilton and Carrie Vaughn and her protagonist could easily fit in either of those worlds. Instead of being a, if you will forgive the theft, red-headed stepchild of this new subgenre, Wells has managed to bring something new to the table or at least something highly entertaining.
The book reads well, there's plenty of action, the pacing is fast and the characters interesting. If the logic behind some of the actions seems a bit contrived I would put that down to lessons yet to be learned by a first time novelist. Overall an interesting book that deserves to be recommended.