Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Book: Bleeding Violet
Author: Dia Reeves
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

Sixteen-year-old Hanna turns up on her estranged mother's doorstep, refusing to budge in the face of Rosalee's many and loud objections. Finally, Rosalee makes her a deal. If she can stick it out in Portero for two weeks, make friends, and fit in, she can stay.

Easy-peasy, Hanna thinks. That's before she finds out about the demons infesting the town, the doors to other dimensions, and the mysterious group of green-clad demon hunters known as Mortmaine. She's a "transy," everyone tells her. She'll never last. If she doesn't get eaten by a demon, she'll run screaming in the other direction soon enough. The evil that permeates this town could drive anybody crazy.

And Hanna didn't exactly have all her marbles to begin with.

Y'all, I was two pages into this book when I hopped onto LibraryThing and added Reeves' next book to my list. There's something about Reeves' writing, beautiful, evocative, and totally creepy, that made me an addict. Or maybe it was Hanna, who is so thoroughly off balance that you can never quite predict what she's going to do next, and nor can she.

I hope you don't think I'm being flippant about her mental illness. Bipolar disorder is a serious disease, I know. But in this book, it's merely another facet of Hanna's character, and one that strangely enough equips her to deal with the terrifying reality that is Portero. You get the sense that somebody who is totally balanced and right in their head never would have been able to handle what happens. But Hanna is so used to the strange and horrendous productions of her own damaged brain that demons from the underworld don't actually rattle her cage that much.

It's something of a benefit, having her matter-of-fact narration, because otherwise I might have run screaming. This book seriously crosses the line from paranormal into straight-up horror. It's not for the faint of stomach; it oozes. From scenes of a girl being cut open to kill the creatures inside her to the sequence where two characters capture and torture a hapless bystander whose mistake was being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it's definitely disturbing, and normally the sort of stuff I'd be on the other side of the room from. Again, though, Reeves' writing and the character of Hanna made this so twistedly fascinating that I couldn't put it down.

Technically speaking, this is a POC novel, as Hanna is biracial. But it's incidental, which is pretty awesome in its own way. Yes, she has a black mother and a white father, whatever, shall we get on with the spraying blood? And double booyah, the cover features a girl who actually could be biracial.

Unfortunately, the world-building is sketchy and scattershot. I couldn't get the sense of where all this dark stuff was coming from, or why everyone stayed. I have a loose idea of how the town is set up, with the Mayor at the top, the Mortmaines in the role of guards, and everyone else basically demon kibble that's walking around, but there are definitely threads dangling here. The next book seems to take place in Portero as well, so I'll be interested to see if the world is fleshed out some more. Even if it's not, wild horses couldn't stop me from picking it up.

I'll just make sure I don't eat while I'm reading.


NatalieSap said...

I felt the same way about this book but didn't articulate it as well as you. Can't wait to read Slice of Cherry!

Madigan McGillicuddy said...

I'm reading Slice of Cherry now, without having read Bleeding Violet first. It's a crazy world! I have to read it in small doses. It's too scary otherwise!

Bibliovore said...

Oooo! I envy you, Madigan. But yeah, it's creepy as all get-out, isn't it?