Biting Bad (Chicagoland Vampires #8) by Chloe Neill
Merit has been a vampire for only a short while, but she’s already seen a lifetime’s worth of trouble. She and her Master, centuries-old Ethan Sullivan, have risked their lives time and again to save the city they love. But not all of Chicago is loving them back.
Anti-vampire riots are erupting all over town, striking vampires where it hurts the most. A splinter group armed with Molotov cocktails and deep-seated hate is intent on clearing the fanged from the Windy City come hell or high water.
Merit and her allies rush to figure out who’s behind the attacks, who will be targeted next, and whether there’s any way to stop the wanton destruction. The battle for Chicago is just beginning, and Merit is running out of time.
I love this series, mostly because it never fails to surprise me. The books all hold together incredibly well without making the direction for the sequential book(s) obvious, as many other series that hold together so well do. Take the Georgina Kincaid series, for instance—these books held together beautifully, but by the time we got to the last book, I knew what was going to happen. If you’ll recall from my review of that book, I didn’t mind much because it was still a wonderful read. But I don’t have to worry about that with Neill—each book builds on itself naturally, and it feels more like I’m living with these characters and in this world. There’s not foreshadowing, per se, so much as there is cause and effect.
And one of the things that I love so much about this world is that, in as much as anything in the fantasy genre can be, everything is totally believable. If vampires came out in the open, I can easily see some of the ups and downs that the Cadogan House has experienced in the recent years. So often I find myself reading a series like this and thinking, “Seriously? Everything just happens to go to hell right as this character gets involved in things, even though she’s not connected to any of that crap?” Again, we see some believable cause and effect—Merit becoming involved in the chaos that Chicago has turned into isn’t at all coincidental—her turning was simply another effect of the same cause that’s turning Chicago on its head. And I love that we have that context and understanding, because I’m not constantly questioning the likelihood of any of these events happening at the same time. I also feel like Chicago is a great setting for a world like this, between its history and its geography—it has a lot to offer in terms of laying the groundwork to have a large diversity of supernaturals.
None of this world-building is done at the sacrifice of the characters, either. I’ve mentioned the wonderful characters in this series before, and I certainly haven’t changed my mind. The cadre of friends/crime-solvers in this series are entertaining and each and every person has depth to them even though we only see that through Merit’s perspective. And who could pass up Ethan Sullivan? What really impresses me about these characters is that we’re still learning more about them and they’re still developing even though we’re as far out as book #8 now—so often by the time we get this far into a series, I start to feel like the characters are plateauing, or sometimes even falling flat. (I complained about this with Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bones series, which as a consequence, I am actually glad will be reaching its conclusion with the next book.)
My one complaint with this one: the cliffhanger. We were on the last page and things were wrapping up nicely. Then, WHAM! Gah! Don’t get me wrong, that’s totally how I would have ended this book if I had that kind of option, but that doesn’t mean that I like it as a reader—Now I have to wait!