Sunday, 20 December 2009

Kitty Sewell - Bloodprint

When I'd finished reading the opening chapter with the breathtaking hurricane scene, I was expecting great things - high energy and tension, fast action, unexpected twists, lots of emotion. But just as the hurricane died away to nothing, so did the exhilirating plotline and for most of the book, I was left wondering why this impressive opening chapter was even used, as it had very little at all to do with the rest of the story, apart from a tenuous link to Cuban ancestors and gods.

Then the scene moves to a prison visit in England with the lead character, psychoanalyst and hurricane survivor Madeleine Frank, in a new country and a new life. The problem for me was, the scene just reminded me 100% of Clarice Starling talking to Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. The perverse friendship and mindgames had a sense of déjà vu and lacked originality. I had this same sentiment when the serial killer justified his crimes with a "I only kill the scum that deserve to die" speech that could have come straight from an episode of Dexter !

One of my major problems with the novel is that there isn't a single good and totally virtuous character. I started out thinking that the female characters were all seriously damaged, either mentally, physically or both, and that it would have been nice to have at least one strong, undamaged character to balance this. Then I realised that similarly, every single one of the men is an evil piece of work - either morally, through infidelity and abandoning loved ones in their hour of need, or physically, through physical abuse and violent control of immigrants forced into prostitution.

There are a lot of interesting and original elements in the novel - Madeleine's fascination with ants, human trafficking and sex slavery, domestic abuse, adoption issues, women befriending convicts, black magic ... In fact there were so many elements, I felt that many of them were dealt with too superficially. In particular, I found the Cuban tales of santeras, evil eye and voodoo-type rituals absolutely fascinating, but it was all barely touched on.

The happy ending was a bit too predictable and convenient so it seemed slightly unbelievable to me. I'm sure gangland thugs wouldn't really give up that easily. The final chapter, a decade on, didn't really add anything to the plot and left me with the same confused "what has this got to do with the rest of the story ?" feeling as the opening chapter, so I think it could have been edited out.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and interesting read though. Some of the characters - particularly the really nasty ones or the strangely exotic ones - could have been developed much further, perhaps in a different novel, which left me wanting more and wishing that the novel had gone off in a slightly different direction.

star rating : 4/5

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (2 Feb 2009)
ISBN-10: 1847372651
ISBN-13: 978-1847372659

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