Once again I find myself beginning a review of this series of novels by cautioning the reader to heed every trigger warning the author provides. There is torture, dubious consent, slavery, kink, BDSM—but not the kind with a safe word so, in other words, physical abuse, and so much more. It is all fairly necessary to the plot, but it’s graphic in detail. Secondly, this is not a standalone—you need to read this series in order beginning with Sinister Hunger before moving on to this latest release. Believe me, if you enjoy very dark novels, it is very worth it to read both and I am on the cliff waiting for the third, which I assume will be released sometime next year. Yes, there is a HUGE cliffhanger in this one, but again, it just whets the appetite for the third and, I believe, the final book in the Bloodstream trilogy.
So when we last left our hero, Vincent, he was the property of the Governor of Sanctuary City, the first born vampire, Maddox Caine. Nothing has changed in that respect except the battle raging inside Vincent’s head has increased—somehow he should not physically enjoy the torture and sex he endures at the whim of Maddox and his voracious appetites, but he does and the guilt of betraying the memory of his dead wife weighs on him heavily. Could he be bisexual? Impossible to fathom and yet there is that thrill that comes when Maddox takes him and forces him to submit. Theirs is an angry, tumultuous existence, but the floor really drops out of Vincent’s world when the head of a young man is returned to Maddox and he informs Vincent that Cadmus, who trained him as a dusk hunter and who has set up the compound in Wyoming, is now breeding monsters and feeding innocent humans to them.
Now Vincent has agreed (as usual under the threat of his family being put into slavery) to train in order to travel to Cadmus’ compound and see for himself if his mentor has betrayed their oath to protect humans. All the while he fights holographic hybrids, he is also fighting Maddox and the growing lust he has for the vampire. But author Katze Snow is not content to give us just one fiercely intense plot to deal with in this novel and graciously brings us up to date on young Emory as well. Those who read the first novel will remember him as the one that Vincent essentially gave his submission for in order to save from being raped and fed upon by Caine’s buddies.
The doctor who cares for the human slaves gives Emory a choice: either have his memory wiped or escape beyond the city walls never to return. Emory choses to go for he has heard of a way to kill first born vamps and intends to come back and get Maddox, thus freeing Vincent. The only problem is that Vincent may no longer really want to be free.
This novel—holy smokes, it was a roller coaster of a ride. Fast paced does not begin to describe the action in this book. Vincent is on an emotional roulette wheel of his own making. The guilt and horror he has when he realizes that he is beginning to crave the touch of a vampire—his sworn enemy—is frighteningly real. I’d like to say it’s not unlike Stockholm syndrome where a captive person begins to care for their jailer, but there is something more that lay beneath the feelings Vincent finds himself developing for not one, but two vampires. I’m going to leave that statement dangling because it is just too delicious a plot point to give away; suffice it to say, I like his second choice of lover far better than his forced one, Maddox.
There is so much in this novel—the ending was fairly shocking and yet you could feel the author building toward it. I thought there was much more story cohesion and character development in this second installment. We really got into Vincent’s head and began to understand just how much he loved his sister, their ragtag family, and his deceased wife and child. Truth and promises began to be even more important to Vincent for they were the basis of how he could give his body over to be used in such a humiliating way. They were pillars that allowed him to agree to the ever changing rules of the game Maddox was playing with him. When he feels betrayed not once, but twice by Maddox, the anger that erupts from Vincent is frightening to behold. However, the real mind blower is how Maddox relents and admits guilt. Suddenly the cold bastard just may have a heart after all, but I’m not convinced yet that he could ever achieve good guy status and relinquish the role of bloodthirsty manipulative bastard.
I think the author has vastly improved her game with this release. Her writing style and subject matter may not be for everyone given how dark and gritty it is, but she writes an incredibly good story that hooks the reader in and never lets up. I stayed up most of the night to finish this book simply because I had to see if Vincent survived and could actually come to grips with the pain he was enduring. I am irrevocably hooked on this series and really can’t wait for the next book to drop. Fans of this trilogy are going to howl over this second story. If you are new to this author and love truly dark, twisted novels then look no further. I think Sinister Games far outstrips the first book and I enjoyed it immensely.