"Nothing like a smooth glass of scotch to numb the senses. Frederick has always offered top-shelf drinking for the sophisticated palate, but I prefer the local hole in the wall. There's something about the anonymity as lifetime abusers wearily stroll in and out, looking for their particular brand of coping mechanism. We don't ask personal questions, hell, I don't even know the bartender's name and he's wearing a nametag. This is one of the few places where I can publicly hide from a lifetime of secret stares and hushed whispers."
The Bonded by John Falin is the first book in the Adriel's Legacy series.
The story starts in the small town of Frederick, Maryland, where we first meet Adriel. Adriel is in his 40's (though looks much younger) and stands out due to his appearance. His snow white hair and nearly translucent, but for a hint of green, eyes make it hard for him to blend in. Perhaps he could explain aware his hair with concocted stories of dye or cover his eyes with sunglasses, but his 6ft2in height just adds to his growing list of unique traits.
Aside from his physical appearance, there are other aspects of Adriel that are a little unusual. For instance, he has a fast metabolism. Very fast. As in he can burn off a scotch in fifteen minutes kind of fast. He also has a very high body temperature, that is suffocating in the summer and perfect in the winter, where all he has to wear is a light jacket in the snow.
With all we know about him, it may not be surprising that Adriel has always felt different. But there's something else as well. Adriel believes he has a 'demon' inside him. Not a supernatural kind, but something that wants to break out. He has to constantly control it (which can sometimes be a little challenging due to his quick temper), and is very reserved for fear of it, which can put quite a strain on his relationships with people. This paired with his almost pathological need for moments of solitude during the day mean that Adriel spends most of his time alone. Generally drinking at any bar where he can be anonymous.
On one of these occasions however, he draws a little too much attention to himself. Two men and a woman walk into the bar. The twin men exude an aura of unfriendliness and threatening unapproachability, one is a heavily built, muscular man, while the other is less so, but with more brains. Adriel instantly nicknames the duo 'Hanz' and 'Franz' (named for the SNL characters).
On the other hand, he is instantly drawn to the woman, the beautiful Percy (short for Persephone), though he can't put his finger on why. Sure she's stunning, but there's something deeper. All three of them could be siblings, with their jet black hair and translucent, blue eyes that look like ice. The three men peacock a little and Adriel pushes his luck. After leaving the bar, the twins follow him to his car. Adriel is prepared and brings out the knife he always carries, but it soon becomes obvious that this is a fight he can't win. The two men are unnaturally fast and can heal incredibly quickly. Panic starts to take over as one of the twins bites his neck and sucks his blood. Adriel blacks out.
When he comes to, Adriel discovers a whole new world. If he wasn't aware of the supernatural world before, he sure as hell is now. As it turns out, vampires are real. They are born essentially human. In their early twenties they go through a phase called 'The Resurrectio' (or 'The Awakening' to non-Latin speakers). During this time, their bodies and minds change to create the vampires they eventually become.They all have dark hair and ice blue eyes, and none of them is over 5ft10in, with the exception of their leader, Cassius. Cassius is an unnerving individual and the oldest of the vampires. He covets power and demands absolute loyalty. But Cassius is already the leader of all vampires, what more power could he have?
Well, it turns out there are other supernatural species too. And a battle is about to break out with one of them. The waer to be exact. There was a long-standing treaty between the two species that has now been broken and both sides thirst for blood. Not to mention, with the arrival of Adriel, everyone wants a piece.
The waer and the vampires share many similar traits, such as sleeping during the day, sucking blood for nutrients and they can only killed by decapitation, having their heart cut out or exsanguination. Neither of these species are immortal. Vampires generally live to around 1500. But waer differ in many ways. They are extremely tall- around 7ft, have bright yellow eyes and a huge amount of body hair, including beards. Their appearance is similar to very tall, wild mountain men. They also have four sharp incisors, as opposed to the retractable two that vampires have. Their hands are clawed, which make them best at close combat. They are led by Quilici, a very smart waer, who holds his cards very close to his chest.
As Adriel learns more about the culture and tries to discover what he really is, secrets are revealed and suspicions are abound. Adriel may seem to be almost a vampire, but there are a few discrepancies that cause distrust amongst the others. Unlike the other vampires, he only went through 'The Resurrectio" after meeting Hanz, Franz and Percy. His eyes are green and there's the possibility he has his own unique powers, not ones known to be possessed by vampires.
There is also the unease he feels towards Cassius, who sees him more as a means to an end than a person. The only problem is that Adriel doesn't know what the end Cassius has in store is. However, for now he is content to be around Percy, with whom he seems to share an odd bond. Percy can't or won't explain it and, as the bond strengthens, Adriel becomes increasingly irritated with the mountains of questions that keep pilling up, without a single answer to lessen them.
Percy does give him one clue though. Adriel was adopted. This he always knew, but what he wasn't aware of, until his parents passed, was the secrets they kept. Part of his inheritance was a single piece of paper with the word 'Vinculum' scrawled across it. According to Percy, vinculum is Latin for 'The Bonded'.
After being pulled into the world of 'things that go bump in the night' and finding there's a battle between them, Adriel has to cope with becoming a fully fledged vampire with a twist (one he doesn't know about) and learning to fight in a war against creatures he could never have even imagined existed. Both sides want him, but he's not sure which one (if either) wants him alive. The question is, where does his allegiance lie? And what is 'The Bonded'?
The plot is quite slow-moving. Even with the impending war and the build-up to the finale, there is little sense of urgency overall. There are certain points where tension is created, but it soon dissipates and isn't held.
I would've also liked a little more background on the other characters and more development too. I had an odd relationship with the characters in this book. Some become more interesting with time, (no spoilers) and some becoming less so, almost to the point of becoming boring. This was how I felt about Percy's character. She just wasn't very captivating. Even Adriel's story isn't gone into in detail and his character remains constant and practically unchanged. But this is only the beginning, after all.
In the end, this book just wasn't for me. Like practically every other woman, I went thought the vampire/werewolf phase, but am well past it now. There are some exceptions, so perhaps a more concise description would be I am past vampire or werewolf romances. This isn't exactly a romance, but vampire/werewolf books are basically a hit or miss for me. I always give books the benefit of the doubt, so I won't judge a book for being a vampire/werewolf story, but that doesn't mean I'll necessarily enjoy it. I go into all stories neutral and let the books form my own opinions and feelings towards them. This book is good, just not 'my cup of tea'.
A book for fans of young adult or supernatural stories, especially those involving vampires or werewolves (how many times have I written those words now?). Book 1 sets up the story for the rest of the series well. If you're interested, why not give it a try?
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.