Review: Blood Games by Chloe Neill

Regular followers will recall that some of the Wenches absolutely adore Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series, led, quite vocally, by Zee and me. In fact, our very first post included a discussion of the series, and we've not slowed since then. No, actually, I'd say we love Merit, Ethan, and the gang, as well as the spectacular Ms. Neill, even more than we did two years ago. And the reason is simple--the books keep getting better.

You'd think by the tenth installment of a series we'd be winding down, wrapping up, losing steam. Not so with CLV. Our beloved characters continue to grow, their relationships deepening, strengthening. And their world continues to evolve and change, throwing new challenges at our heroine that keep her, and us, on our toes.

Come with me through the jump, and I’ll tell you why I loved Blood Games so very much. And I’ll do it with no spoilers, a real feat when all I want to do is gush about the specifics! 

(While there are no spoilers about Blood Games, I assume you’ve read through Wild Things and won’t hold back about previous events.)


Is my crush on Chloe Neill showing?
I was gobsmacked in Wild Things when Ethan decided to take Lakshmi’s advice and challenge Darius for his position as head of the Greenwich Presidium. I thought it was perfect, since Ethan would made a spectacular king, and getting there would wrap the series up nicely, with a neat little bow. Well. That was the main problem in Blood Games—the challenge to Darius’s reign, and the testing that was a result. But the result wasn’t at all what I expected, showing me, once again, that Chloe Neill has a whole bag of tricks we haven’t seen yet.

We really could go on about Methan
& Chloe Neill ALL night!
As with most CLV books, post-resurrection, Methan are working through their relationship, each learning how be one half of a couple. And this is probably my favorite thing about this series. These two are deeply, passionately in love, yet they have issues and difficulties that feel very, very real. I don’t think it’s spoilery to say that Ethan encounters a problem that he believes is his to handle alone. He refuses to tell Merit what’s going on for a good bit of the book, leaving the two of them at odds. I felt that this whole scenario was a beautifully written, incredibly accurate illustration of how many men handle situations that frighten them and feel beyond their control. Or, at least it felt very much like my husband. Misplaced anger, throwing up walls, trying to misdirect the issues—all so real! I feel strongly about love triangles (as I’ve mentioned here) certain that there are ways to build tension in a story of a committed couple by exploring realistic issues that readers can relate to. And Chloe Neill continues to prove my point time and again in this series. Thank you for making Methan feel real, for not taking the easy way. By the by, Merit handled herself beautifully through this, and Zee and I are going to explore that more in a later post.

SO happy that Merit & Mallory are
on the way back to being bffs.
  The theme of this book felt like Redemption to me, and Mallory’s redemptive journey seems to have reached its destination. We were all so angry at Mal, because what she did was despicable and selfish. I’m not sure I thought I’d ever be able to forgive her, especially since even thinking about her behavior in Drink Deep still makes me angry. But, in House Rules she cracked my anger just a bit when she took Ethan’s side in his and Merit’s disagreement. Just a bit. Then in Biting Bad she was so contrite, so worried about relapsing when she used magic that I knew she was truly seeking to make things right. In Blood Games, Mallory lays herself bare by baldly telling Merit that she misses her, needs her friendship, and wants to spend more time together. I won’t lie, I got teary for the courage it took for her to be so open with someone she hurt so deeply. That’s not the only reason Mallory is back in my good graces, but it’s enough for now. Merit has her best friend back, and I couldn’t be happier for both of them.


A few random, non-spoilery things that delighted me in Blood Games:
  • Merit dances. Ballet. I don’t think I thought we’d ever see that and it is everything. 
  • Merit and Jonah attend a Con. Hilarity ensues. It was only a matter of time before Chloe Neill, a frequenter of Cons and conventions, took Merit to one. 
  • Ethan and Luc have a bff spat. I enjoyed it way too much. 
  • Methan and Lucsey go on an opp together. Hilarity ensues.
  •  A lot of food is consumed, and people all over Chicago make fun of Merit’s appetite. 
  • Chloe Neill did the impossible--she made me dislike Cather a little less. I still think he's a complete ass, but I can see more clearly some of his good qualities. I still wouldn't want to spend time with his rude ass, though.  
  • The Cadogan family is the best.
  • We really get a sense in this book how much Merit has become an integral part of Cadogan House, and the fact that these vampires really are a family. They are there for each other through everything, good times and bad, and it’s a really beautiful thing.



One Wench who is a long-time fan of the series was worried when it was announced that the Chicagoland contract had been extended for three more books. Understandably so. We’ve seen more than our fair share of great series falter at the end, precisely because the story went on longer than it should have. But she has regained her faith in Chloe Neill, because the books are still surprising us in the most wonderful ways. Her stories are fresh, her characters growing while remaining true to themselves, and the overarching story arcs are still as powerful and intriguing as they’ve always been. There’s no complacency here. And just when we think we’ve got the end game figured out, she throws us a curve ball, leaving us awed and dying for the next installment. 

Blood Games was amazing.


Wench Rating:

Comments

  1. I too have read the entire Chicagoland Vampire series. I have Chloe Neill's books because they have been fabulous on a consistent basis, and just keep getting better and better.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome! So glad to know there are more books ahead too. I cannot wait to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just finished reading the book. Such a delight! I agree with your post wholeheartedly.

    ReplyDelete

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