Charlotte Neville is stuck within a life where she simply watches from the sidelines, too afraid to do anything more. Her sisters are nothing like her, they know how to enjoy what’s to offer and actually make themselves noticed. Charlotte’s sense of safety crumbles however, when a stranger enters her life and befriends her family. They seem to adore him, but there’s something about him that just feels wrong and Charlotte is doomed to find out the truth…
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
It’s always extremely pleasant to be drawn into a book from the very first pages and find yourself surprised. With A Taste of Blood Wine, the gothic tone and engaging story, not to mention the writing, went beyond what I imagined. It was beautiful and something totally unexpected, so I’m very glad I picked this up on one of my rare bookstore visits. I admit, I had never heard of this series before, so it I was shocked to learn the actual date of publication (originally 1992, though apparently it went out of print for a time). How does something like this have such little acknowledgement? I daresay it should be more appreciated than certain other vampire-related books that somehow skyrocketed in popularity all of a sudden. It definitely deserves more.
How can I possibly describe the writing? It was pure talent and had what many works today lack; imagination within the storytelling itself. Poetic, elegant, darkly atmospheric and just incredible, it wasn’t the typical paranormal romance with instant love at first sight and pages filled with sex. Rather, it was a connection that built over time and offered intelligence and lush settings with descriptions that captured your mind and pulled you in. The way Warrington entwines the words together, I felt inspired. It’s quite obvious I’m a fan of this style; “literary heavy”, “flowery”, call it what you will. The historic element also interested me as I don’t exactly read much like it. The way women were treated, no wonder how Charlotte acted out.
I actually related a lot to Charlotte, in that she felt discomfort and fear in social situations, to the point she would distance herself from family and friends. Such severe anxiety can be misunderstood by many and drastically affect ones life, so yes, I became quickly attached to her, even though her actions were at times questionable. She progressed so much over the length of the book, from a mouse ruled by fear, to a woman whom knew what she wanted and how to get it, even if it meant willingly destroying herself. Of course family and life shouldn’t be sacrificed in the name of love, but it’s always up to the individual, and love is powerful enough to change absolutely everything. I believe she really was a great character, but she wasn’t the only one.
The Neville family as a whole, all of them had a certain charm, from the spoiled Madeleine, to Anne, the dear friend who tried to keep the group together. I mostly enjoyed the trouble that ensued between them, even if it were a little reminiscent of a soap opera, but as we all know, most families are nothing but dysfunctional. Sometimes however, I did roll my eyes when the melodrama became a little silly, especially in the dialogue. The scientific aspects in conjunction with religion and the queries that were therefore raised, I liked quite a lot; another thing that’s not present in most vampire novels to date, the questioning of their very existence. Back to the characters; the only one I purely disliked was Kristian, but closely followed was Ilona. The love interest himself, Karl von Wultendorf, I thought he was okay, but nothing extraordinary. Sure, he sounded pretty, but he didn’t exactly burst my ovaries.
The take on vampires, for the most part, certainly wasn’t anything new, but I still found it appealing. One thing I favoured a lot was the Crystal Ring; a “realm” wherein vampires could rest and travel long distances in mere minutes, if not seconds. I don’t think I’ve ever came across something like that before and it’s stuck in my mind since. To me, it was uniquely creative and something that’d be a treat to see on screen. I loved it.
In conclusion: I’ll definitely be continuing with this series and taking a peek into Warrington’s other works! She fascinated me with her beautiful writing and take on vampiric romance.
Notable Quote & Scene:
“Ask yourself what would happen if we stayed together! Putting aside the guilt you’ve suffered since I gave you the choice of leaving the manor – it would be far worse for both of us. I described the anguish of watching my family growing older, suffering every wound that mortality can inflict. It was one of the main reasons I distanced myself from mortals, deluded myself that I could not fall victim to love. I could not bear to go through that pain again, watching you grow old and die. Don’t think I would cease to care for you. Unlike humans my nature is not fickle, my emotions not dulled by time. To lose you, however slowly, would be the pain…”
“Science predicts that the universe itself can only have one end,” she said. “Disorder will increase until all matter is at the same temperature and all energy is easily distributed as radiation.”
“The dissolution of the universe… that’s a prospect infinitely more bleak and hard to imagine even than our own deaths,” said Karl.
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