Wow, Mercedes Lackey is on a roll this year, this is the second book I've picked up by her. For anybody who is a fan knows that she does a lot of different series - this is one that is part of the Elemental Masters series. which I've enjoyed off and on over the years.
The book art is awesome, by the way, and mostly the reason why I picked it up even before realizing it was by Mercedes Lackey. I was hoping the badass chick on the front was cutting off some heads with that ax and I was more or less correct.
Welcome to Victorian England/Europe but with a magical twist. There are people who have the ability or have the affinity to connect with nature and can use 'magic' connected to earth, wind, fire, water. Blood Red is a twist of the traditional Red Riding Hood story and its my favorite kind of twist as Red Cloak becomes badass enough to eventually start hunting the wolves herself.
Our Red Cloak is named Rosamund (Rosa for short) and we have a very strong introduction to the world she lives in. Doting parents, magical child sent to train with an Earth Elemental deep in the forests of Germany. It doesn't take long before a bad wolf comes sniffing around to harm the child Rosa, as she has amazing potential as an Earth Master. I have to hand it Ms. Lackey - she does horror pretty well. Rosa finds that the granny in the bed is a monster and her loving sweet granny is more than a little dead and stuffed into a cupboard in which she barricades herself behind as the wolf claws and scratches at the doors.
Terrified, she pleads for anyone to save her and the Earth responds in spades. Thus we learn that Rosa the Earth Master has the potential to become a Hunt Master aaaaand I just realized how much this book is like that recent Hansel and Gretel movie.... hm.
Overall I would say Blood Red is worth reading. It isn't the strongest book I've read by Mercedes Lackey and I have a couple of issues with it but it has a clean story line, a good cast of characters and when we actually get to the action bits it's pretty awesome.
Most of the book is Rosa wandering over Europe slaying bad creatures. She runs into a couple of Hungarian werewolves and teams up with them to eventually take down a HUGE den of evil shapeshifters that had been preying on a town for fifty years.
My gripe for the book is that I feel there is a lot of unnecessary... drabble, you could say? Just lots of unneeded description, dialogue and fluff that drags down the pace of the book. Until Rosa gets to the village being attacked by shape shifters the plot felt pretty random - Rosa is here, now she is here, and now she's at a castle being mentored, but wait no, now she's being called as a Hunt Master to take care of this problem. It got a little jumbled in my head and I'm ashamed to admit I skipped past certain parts just to find a spot where she actually had some action.
The other part was all the unnecessary explanation, when Rosa would stop and meticulously go over why she's doing what's she's doing and the exact steps she takes. Some of it I liked; the creativity with the connection to Earth and how Earth Magic works. But that one scene with the Mayor of the town and her explaining in minute detail how she's going to find her companion...just... jeez, get on with it already.
The ending was... well... she wins? There was some build-up, there was some struggle with the final evil shape shifter (and the hilarious, 'mwah ha ha, you shall be mine my dear' dialogue which I just thought was funny, he could almost be twirling a mustache) but it felt a little too... easy. Especially with the whole Gypsy warning of 'great evil'. That felt more like a mild annoyance than 'great evil'.
However I will say again that like with the Twelve Daughters book this is a fun and quick read, good with description, good characters and good to check out from the library.