Reviewed by Tori
Favorite: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”
In attempts to repair the friendship with her bff, Mallory Carmichael, Merit heads to Sauls Pizzeria for an impromptu dinner date with Mallory. When a series of bombs go off, shattering their peaceful dinner, Merit and Mallory go out to investigate and find themselves in the midst of a riot. Keep Chicago Clean, a new radical anti vampire group, has bombed a nearby blood manufacturing plant. As the group continues their attacks on random targets, including a vicious attack on the Grey House, Merit and Ethan begin to suspect there is a more insidious plot afoot. Merit knows deep down that McKetrick is behind it all but unable to prove it.
If that weren’t bad enough, the General Presidium is up to their old tricks when it announces they have blacklisted Cadogan House as punishment for withdrawing from the GP, Cadogan HOuse is now persona non grata and any house that acknowledges them will suffer their wrath. As tempers and emotions flare, the battle for Chicago has become personal and Merit knows the worse is yet to come.
Biting Bad, the eighth installment in Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series, starts out with a bang as it reveals the plot elements of the story. Fast pacing and high charged energy keeps the story flowing nicely as we learn of the new challenges Merit, Ethan, and the rest of Cadogan House are now facing. The world building remains inviting as Neill builds a balance that embraces both the supernatural and the mundane and build upon it. While I enjoyed the overall storyline, there wasn’t much arc advancement. There are quite a few loose threads still waving in the wind. A large amount of the book revolves around Ethan and Merit. They have settled into a comfortable routine that shows us they are both committed to the relationship and in it for the long haul. Sexy chemistry still burns sharp between them and I enjoyed seeing them interact on a sweet emotional level without all the drama that has infected them throughout the series.
“I have eternal life, “ he said. “but you are my undying passion.”
The mystery and subsequent investigation was interesting and filled with action and suspense though I got a deja vu feeling at times. I felt a strong similarity to the events in House Rules in the setup and execution of the story. There is lots of action but the revealing is lowkey. Everything comes together to easily without much conflict. Certain sub plots seem to go nowhere, offering no boost or advancement of the storyline and I wondered at their significance. We receive some ambiguous clues to the future and I for one am interested in seeing what Neill will build with those clues. I would have more inclusion of Gabriel Keene and his prophecy. That thread seems to have stalled but I’m sure Neill has great plans for us and Merit regarding that.
Engaging secondary characters and sustainable relationships remains a strong aspect in the overall enjoyment of this series. The dialogue remains sharp and witty, keeping you laughing at the most inappropriate times.
“Latte, half caf, extra hot, double foam, two shots, soy milk.”
“I’m not really sure how I can follow that.”
Old and new enemies come into play as Merit and Ethan work on discovering the GP’s real agenda towards them and figure out who is targeting their kind. We see many old friends and get a small intimate looks at how their lives are progressing. Mallory is slowly becoming a strong presence again and I like that she and Merit are rebuilding their friendship. Neill makes a major concession regarding Mallory that bodes interesting for the future. Catcher plays a major role in this installment and I’m glad to see him and Mallory making progress in their relationship.
The ending wraps up this storyline, leaving a few open threads and a small cliffhanger to lead us into book nine, Wild Things, set to release Feb 2014. Regardless of some innocuous problems, I enjoyed Biting Bad. This series remains a dark humorous Urban Fantasy/PNR with plenty of action, romance, and snark. This is not a standalone though and I do not recommend starting the series here. This is a convoluted series that builds upon itself with each new book. The arc is long reaching with minor recapping.
**There will be two Chicagoland Vampire novellas released before Wild Things.**