Audiobook Review: Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Series: Soulwood #1
Published by Audible Studios, Roc on August 2nd 2016
Length: 15 hours 34 minutes
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth.
When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her.
Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville.
Nell has a team—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…
Blood of the Earth is the first in a new series by Faith Hunter. It is a spin-off from her Jane Yellowrock books, which I have not read, and so I confirmed this would be a good entry point before reading. I definitely never felt I was missing information, or was hindered by having not read Jane Yellowrock. That said, I did feel like my reading experience definitely lacked something. This is a hard review to write because while I can’t say I actively disliked much about this book while reading, I also can’t say there was much about it that I did like or enjoy. The trick is figuring out why that is and expand beyond just the general ‘meh’ impression this book left on me.
I guess my first roadblock was that I never felt a connection with the main character, Nell, despite feeling like I really *should* like her. Nell has been living by herself on property left to her by her late husband. She has a very unique and special connection with the land around her. Her ownership of this land is a point of contention with the church/cult she grew up in (but has since abandoned, because, you know, cults are bad). But through some unfortunate events, she is dragged out of her isolation to aid an investigation that will require her to make contact with the church again.
I wanted to like Nell. But for some reason, I just felt she came across as naive. I think this is a trait of her character and was intentional (its hard to live in isolation and not be naive), but instead of sympathizing with her, I started to feel a bit impatient instead. There was also a ton of repetition in this book. Sometimes, in big tomes of epic fantasy where you have a lot of information to remember or in books aimed at young readers, repetition can be beneficial. Here? It was extraneous page filler material that pulled me out of the story as previous information was rehashed and slightly reworded.
And as for the plot? Well, once again, I felt like I should have found it more intriguing than I actually did. I just didn’t find myself engaging with the entire cult/church threat. There are also girls who have gone missing, but as a reader I felt rather removed from them, and so I really did not feel any emotional investment in them, their capture or their recovery (gosh, that makes me sound horrible, but really, it was just like a story check point, side information for me rather than feeling like I was reading the harrowing disappearance of young women).
For the Audiobook version: I don’t feel like I would have enjoyed this book any more in print than I did in audio. But I have to say that I didn’t enjoy the narration much either only because I found the southern accent a bit hard to listen to. Although, in all fairness, it may have been spot on for how the character should sound. So, it could just be another aspect of the book that didn’t quite work for.
Overall, I can’t say I would recommend this book except maybe to people who are already huge Faith Hunter fans (that wouldn’t need my recommendation anyway). For readers new to the author, this book definitely works as a starting point, but seeing as how the Jane Yellowrock books are so popular, they may serve a better introduction to the author.