I love finding a new female hero who steps onto the stage at the beginning of the book already strong and willing to grow stronger. Raina Kirkland is just such a hero. Raina lives in a world no one I know has ever visited even though Fatal Retribution is set in the Pacific Northwest. Her world is our world turned on its head, where elfs and vampires and witches and many more paranormal entities reside, existing within a society which knows them and for the most part accepts them as part of the landscape. To me, a novice to this particular subset of urban paranormal novels, the only word I could use to describe it is steampunk.
Raina’s tale begins with her joining her siblings for a camping trip which turns into the camp-out from hell as they are attacked by a raging newly “born” vampire. Two of her brothers are bitten and must undergo dying and being reborn in a VCC (Vampire Care Center–see what I mean about an alternate reality?) before being allowed back out into the world. For some reason, Raina, part elf, part witch and part human, survives her bite and must learn what it means to be a “living” vampire. It all has to do with genetics, and I must say that Graves does an admirable job of explaining the physiology behind vampirism as she takes us through Raina’s experiences and the experiences of her relatives and friends, old and new.
Raina, like any only slightly post-adolescent young woman, suffers from self-esteem issues and endures a meddling mother who means well but refuses to admit that her little girl is a grownup. (Living at home doesn’t help.) And yet, she is feisty and forever questioning what she doesn’t yet understand. No waiting for some guy to come along and save her; this gal has spunk and she uses it as she becomes involved in the mystery of who is illegally offering humans the opportunity to become immortal by shooting up altered vampire blood.
My only quibble with Fatal Retribution is the grammar and word usage issue. Graves is an excellent storyteller, but too often one gets caught up in the lack of punctuation that could have helped a sentence make sense and the use of the wrong word, usually a homonym of the correct word. I would have given a 5-star review had the quality of the text come up to the delight of the storytelling. Regardless, I do recommend it and look forward to more from Graves’ prolific imagination.

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