REVIEW: Voice of the Blood by Jemiah Jefferson

The ordinary life of a grad student was so boring for Ariane. She was desperate for some change, some excitement to shake things up. She had no idea she was only one step away from a whole new world—a world of darkness and decay, of eternal life and eternal death. But once she fell prey to Ricari she would learn more about this world than she ever dreamed possible. More than anyone should dare to know . . . if they value their soul.
Warnings: violence, suicide, death, underage sexuality

Category: M/F, M/M

Voice of the Blood is the first book in a series of vampire novels that explore the experiences, lives, and loves, of a handful of very intriguing vampire characters. The first book follows the character Ariane and the story of how she became a vampire, and it is followed by three other books which concern other vampires and their own stories.

WRITING
This book is a very character driven piece; as such, there isn’t much in the way of a complicated plot or narrative. There is a lot of characters reminiscing, a lot of emotional meandering through concepts like the nature of life and love and morality and the experiences of immortality. It’s also incredibly lyrical in it’s prose, and beautifully written. So much of the reading is full of the vibrancy of experiences and feelings, and it is evocative and beautiful even when it’s incredibly graphic and gruesome. While not a lot actually transpires in the story itself, reading it is an experience that leaves you aching for its characters. That said, I wish that more happened rather than just the thoughtful, literary musings of supernatural existentialism, but it was still a very satisfying emotional journey through these characters even when nothing much was going on. Its so full of the minutia of life, like the simple pleasures of listening to your favourite songs on a car radio, to the grand zest for violence experienced by vampires like the romantic killing of an old lover in the desert, that it feels so much more real than you expected.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
Being that the story is essentially the characters themselves, this is a story whose characters dig themselves into your heart and mind and latch on to your emotions. Ariane is a lovely lead, who takes us through the experiences of her initial encounters with the world of the vampires and her gradual exploration of that world, and the ways she falls in love with various people. It’s a love letter to relationships, and to the complexity of relationships both good and bad, toxic and sweet, allowing Ariane to convey to us the readers the love and longing she experiences for each of the people she encounters. The poetic and long suffering Ricari, the charismatic but sinister Daniel, and even the young and naïve innocence of Lovely, the human in love with Daniel, all feel vibrantly alive and worth falling in love with, even as she does. Not only that, but Ariane’s experiences falling in and out of love with vampirism in general, with life and with society at large, all contribute to making this a truly emotional piece of work.

WORLDBUILDING
The most fascinating means of worldbuilding lies in the depictions of two completely different vampire characters. Ricari and Daniel are polar opposites, approaching their immortality and their need for blood in very different manners. I appreciated Ricari’s asceticism immensely, his frail and suffering nature, and the idea of a religious vampire feels somehow perfectly suited for the narrative. His self imposed refrain from pleasure, in contrast with Daniel’s hedonism was a very interesting peek into this author’s vampire world and lore, showing different kinds of vampirism and different ways in which the immortal might interact with their own existence. Also featured prominently is the turning process, and it was the most incredibly gruesome take on the change I may have ever read. The method for the change to take place, including the actual ways in which it happens, were fascinating. There isn’t much in the way of vampire politics like in some vampire mythos, but rather the more solitary nature of these vampires, at least in their interactions with each other, was very front and center.

STEAMINESS
There is so much sex in this book, and while the prose itself is not graphically explicit in its descriptions of the sex itself, there is a lot of sensuality to the characters and their interactions. Relationships, both romantic and sexual and somewhere in between, are fluid in this story, and the raw sexuality of their lives permeates the entire book in such a vibrant way. There is an element of gore and violence to the sex as well, plenty of exploration of death in the expression of sex- a sensuality to the violence and a violence to the sex, like two things which go hand in hand for the vampires. It’s a celebration of female sexuality, of queerness and of monstrosity in a way that was as disturbing as it was hauntingly beautiful and intimate. Be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart, and if the idea of oral sex as a means to imbibing menstrual blood squicks you, you may indeed find it a little much, but I adored the sensual take on power exchange, and the portrayal of lust for blood and viscera. A delightfully macabre take on erotic content.

Voice of the Blood is a lovely first instalment in a truly visceral and carnal series of gothic, sultry vampire stories. I loved reading it, and often found myself engrossed in the aesthetic quality of its prose and the elegance of its characters. A perfectly dark and appealing tale of blood and lust and intimacy.

Have you read Voice of the Blood? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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