Thursday, 17 December 2009

Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price

This is a story I probably wouldn't have picked up if it hadn't been chosen as a pick for the m/m book group. And I am so glad it was chosen otherwise I would have missed out on a real treat.

Ten years ago, the Human Hemovore Virus blazed through the world, and left the few victims who survived unable to eat, allergic to sunlight and craving the taste of blood.

Mark Jensen used to think V-positives were incredibly sexy with their pale, flawless skin and taut, lean bodies. Not anymore. Not since he’s been stuck procuring under-the-counter feline blood for his control-freak boss, Jonathan Varga. Why cat blood? Mark has never dared to ask.

It’s not as if he’s usually at a loss for words. He can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick as you can say “Miss Thang”. But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.

So he endures their strange, endless routine: Jonathan hiding in his studio, painting solid black canvases. Mark hurling insults as he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes and maps out the mysterious “routes” he’s required to drive.

Then a blurb in Art in America unleashes a chain of events neither of them saw coming. As secrets of Jonathan’s past come to light, it becomes clear all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.
This story is set in an alternate universe where sufferers of the HHV virus (yes I know that's virus virus) who survive the four stages of the disease become technically what we'd call vampires. They live a very long time and have to drink blood (and lots of oil) to survive.

The story is told from Mark's point of view and I loved him. As a character he reminded me somewhat of Adrien English though more solid (I always imagine Adrien as being quite slight physically). He has a very snarky inner voice and a self-deprecating sense of a humour, a combination which I am a complete sucker for.
Damn it. Where had I been while my body was hurtling towards forty?
Possibly my favourite line in the book. :)

Jonathan remains something of an enigma, which for me worked very well. We only know as much as Mark knows, and Jonathan especially for the first part of the book keeps part of himself back from Mark.

I thought the world-building was incredibly well-realized. You got a real sense that HHV was a terrible disease, that only a lucky few were able to 'survive', and once they became vampires they carried the continual possibility of infecting someone else. Someone else who may not be as 'lucky' to turn into a vampire. The day-to-day practicalities of caring for and being a vampire were an integral part of the story - getting blood, being careful not to pass the disease on, staying out of the sunlight. And not in a cheesy vampire movie way, but a mundane 'this is something I'd have to do for the rest of my immortal life way'. Immortality may sound like an attractive option but when your bagged blood supply fills with clots are you still going to think it's romantic?

If I had any quibbles it would be that I wished we'd had a strong sexual scene between Mark and Jonathan, something more than what happens at the end. All the way through I felt like we were building to a climax but that we never quite reached a peak. (Thanks must go here to Diane who pointed me in the direction of.Jordan Castillo Price's website where there is an alternate sexy ending. Please read Hemovore first as the alt-ending has spoilers).

I am so glad I picked this story up. And I will definitely be checking out Jordan Castillo Price's backlist. I hope at some point in the future there might be another visit to the Hemovore universe.


Nicole said...

Hmm, sounds interesting. And I was going to make my usual "I don't read m/m books" comment, but then I realized that I love Taunya Huff's "Smoke" series, which is technically m/m but light on anything actually happening. So, if this one has a lack of strong sexual scenes, I might be able to appreciate the storyline without getting caught up in sex scenes that squick me out.

LesleyW said...

Nicole - I would recommend it if you find strong m/m sex scenes offputting. The story is really more to do with the emotional relationship between Mark and Jonathan and the barriers they have to overcome because of Jonathan being HVV positive.

I haven't mentioned the whole Jonathan's past coming back to haunt him part of the story because for me the part I enjoyed most was the developing relationship between Mark and Jonathan.

Darlynne said...

I picked this one up at Fictionwise on the strength of your review and look forward to reading it. Thanks!

LesleyW said...

Darlynne - I hope you enjoy it. :)

sharrow said...

This was a totally entertaining read and rather original. Liked it much!

Renee said...

I loved this story! I thought the concept of the HVV was a really original take on the vampire story, and it was so suspenseful. I've recently started reading JCP's PsyCop series, and it's so good.

LesleyW said...

Sharrow - Me too! :)

Renee - I have ordered the paperback version of Psycop (1+2) so will hopefully have that just after Christmas.