BLOOD COUNTRY (Book 2 in THE RAVEN series)
By Jonathan Janz
Publisher: Flame Tree Press
Release: October 22, 2022
Categories: Dark Fantasy, Horror, Adventure Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Action-Packed, Werewolves, Vampires, Prokinetics, Sirens, Dangerous Rescues
The Premise: In the Raven series, the world has ended thanks to a group of rogue scientists having released a virus that turned (most) people into monsters of some kind. There are vampires, cannibals, werewolves, sirens, and more. It’s a dangerous landscape, especially for someone like Dez, who is latent (no powers). In the second book of this series, Dez and his companions are heading into Blood Country to rescue Iris’s daughter and Dez’s girlfriend from the vampires. It is basically a suicidal mission, but of course there will be help along the way.
The Review: The Raven was such a good book, I jumped at the ARC for its sequel. Had this been the first book in its series—a story about entering a vampire den to save some loved ones—I might have just skipped it. I’m not a fan of vampires usually. However, because the first book was so good, I was excited to see where Dez took us next. The world presented in this series is excruciatingly dark and dangerous. You’re likely to be torn to shreds every corner you turn! There’s a good many, many things Janz can do with this series, and I do plan on continuing it. That being said, I couldn’t latch onto this book during its first half. I’m not entirely sure why that was—it could have been as simple as my mood, which plays a big factor in my reading—but I found myself skimming a lot of those chapters in the first hundred or so pages. Even the action sequences couldn’t draw me in. However, once they were in Blood Country and preparing to launch their rescue mission at the school, I became hooked! I devoured the second half of the book like a starving vampire feasting on a steer. (Is that an animal with a lot of blood to offer?) Despite my rocky start with this one, I still enjoyed it and I still intend on following Janz into more darkness with Dez at the helm.
Drawbacks: For whatever reason, the first half of the book could not sink its fangs in me. I found the beginning to be very weak and the “catch-up” explanations to come too few and far in between. Though I read the first book only a year or so ago at release, I’ve also read more than a hundred books since and have forgotten things. In Blood Country, the “previously on…” moments were done in such a way that they slipped by me. I couldn’t remember where half the characters came from or who they were, and therefore I had trouble caring about them or their station in the mission. // Janz throws in snarky and corny moments throughout. Sometimes, I don’t mind them. Other times, I was a bit annoyed.
Highlights: The second half of the novel really picks up. By the time the heroes are preparing to break into the school where the vampires stay, the story becomes a lot more engaging and exciting. // There are scattered action scenes throughout, so you’re not waiting around for something to happen; there’s almost always something happening. // The world Janz has depicted is a wonderful one for dark fantasy and horror lovers. The potential is endless. // Dez is an honorable hero. In general, the characters in the Raven series are well-crafted, especially the ones at the forefront (this time being Dez and Iris).