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Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter
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Blood of the Earth

by Faith Hunter

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Blood of the Earth
4 Stars

Exiled from a religious cult, Nell Ingram lives off the grid and uses her uncanny connection to the woods as protection. Now, after meeting Jane Yellowrock, Nell is approached by Rick LaFleur, an agent with PsyLED, the government agency responsible for policing paranormals, with a request for help in solving a series of abductions possibly connected to Nell's old church. Forced out of isolation, Nell joins the PsyLED team, but in order to stop the malign agenda unfolding, she will have to confront the deepest and darkest fears of her past.

Series note: This is a spin-off of the Jane Yellowrock series and slots in after the events of book #10 Shadow Rites. While it is not strictly necessary to read Jane's books prior, they do provide background information that will provide the reader with a better understanding and appreciation for Hunter's world building and the crossover characters.

For readers of Jane Yellowrock, Rick LaFleur will be a familiar, if not particularly welcome, face. That said, the concern that his character would impair my appreciation for the story were completely unfounded for three reasons. First, because he is not a love interest for Nell, which prevents the angst that characterizes his relationship with Jane; second, because Hunter manages to evoke a measure of sympathy for his situation, and third because Nell has her own special way of putting him in his place.

Nell's character is very intriguing due both to her fascinating abilities, which walk a fine line between good and evil, and to her background as a former cult member. The description of the God's Cloud of Glory Church are both thought-provoking and infuriating. On the one hand, their despicable treatment of women makes the blood boil, but on the other, the sense of family and community is very appealing. It is the mark of an excellent storyteller that Hunter succeeds in merging the two so skillfully.

The abduction plot appears straightforward at first, yet it becomes more complex as the details emerge and there are several compelling twists and turns as well as numerous action packed scene to make for a very satisfying read.

In terms of the writing, several reviewers have mentioned Nell's "church speak" as being distracting. For me, this was not an issue as Khristine Hvam's narration of the audiobook in gripping and immersive. Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of repetitive description that is problematic, and it feels as if Hunter had a page quota to fulfill.

In sum, Blood of the Earth is a fascinating beginning to the Soulwood series and I'm eager to see the direction in which Hunter takes her exceedingly intelligent, resourceful and spirited new heroine. ( )
  Lauren2013 | May 24, 2018 |
Faith Hunter has done it again.

Her Jane Yellowrock series (starting with [b:Skinwalker|5585788|Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1)|Faith Hunter|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1400516601s/5585788.jpg|5757031]) is great, and was the jumping-off point for the Soulwood series, since the main character in Soulwood is introduced as a minor character in one of the Jane books. You do not, however, need to read the Jane books to read [b:Blood of the Earth|24452922|Blood of the Earth (Soulwood, #1)|Faith Hunter|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1429125670s/24452922.jpg|44044683].

Nell, as we are introduced to her, is the survivor of a religious cult upbringing, a sometime child-bride, and a current off-the-grid-living person holding the land inherited from her dead husband, with which she has some kind of magical connection. Nell does not know how that works, or what it does, and neither do we.

Nell is a very interesting main character - she's obviously very bright (a big plus for me!) but her life means that there's a lot she doesn't know. When she starts to work with Rick Lafleur's PsyLED team, there's a whole lot more she needs to learn - not just the PsyLED stuff, but interpersonal stuff too.

As the book progresses, we learn more about Nell as we watch her growing and developing. Nell also learns more about herself, and about her history. We, and she, start to realise that things aren't all as straightforward as she thought. People generally aren't, but sometimes those facts you don't know are the ones that turn your worldview upside down when you find out.

This is something I really, really loved about this book. It's not so heavy on the action as the Jane books - as would be expected, since Nell isn't that sort of person - but a big part of it does seem to be that people are not always what you think, and just because you wouldn't choose a particular lifestyle, doesn't mean it doesn't make other people happy. Also, power sits in unexpected places, and not always where and with whom you might expect.

For those who disliked Ricky Bo in the Jane books, be reassured. I spent most of the Jane books hoping that something would eat him, but Rick is also part of the "people are more complicated than you think" - we see a different side to him here, and he does (in one particular scene) get some of what he deserves.

In some ways, too, this book is a bit darker than the Jane books (it's hard to review without constant comparisons) - Jane is a pretty straightforward person in a lot of ways. She's also kind of nice. Nell is more cynical, and her magic is much darker. It will be very interesting to see where that goes, and I very much liked having a heroine who had the potential for such darkness.

I won't say any more - except that I thoroughly recommend this. For me, it's some of the best urban (if you can call it urban when there are so many trees involved) fantasy out there. The next book is already up for pre-order: [b:Curse on the Land|28953491|Curse on the Land (Soulwood, #2)|Faith Hunter|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1459397931s/28953491.jpg|49178594]. ( )
  T_K_Elliott | Mar 12, 2017 |
Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2016/08/29/audiobook-review-blood-of-the-earth-by...

2.5/5 stars

Blood of the Earth is the first in a new series by Faith Hunter. It is a spin-off from her Jane Yellowrock books, which I have not read, and so I confirmed this would be a good entry point before reading. I definitely never felt I was missing information, or was hindered by having not read Jane Yellowrock. That said, I did feel like my reading experience definitely lacked something. This is a hard review to write because while I can’t say I actively disliked much about this book while reading, I also can’t say there was much about it that I did like or enjoy. The trick is figuring out why that is and expand beyond just the general ‘meh’ impression this book left on me.

I guess my first roadblock was that I never felt a connection with the main character, Nell, despite feeling like I really *should* like her. Nell has been living by herself on property left to her by her late husband. She has a very unique and special connection with the land around her. Her ownership of this land is a point of contention with the church/cult she grew up in (but has since abandoned, because, you know, cults are bad). But through some unfortunate events, she is dragged out of her isolation to aid an investigation that will require her to make contact with the church again.

I wanted to like Nell. But for some reason, I just felt she came across as naive. I think this is a trait of her character and was intentional (its hard to live in isolation and not be naive), but instead of sympathizing with her, I started to feel a bit impatient instead. There was also a ton of repetition in this book. Sometimes, in big tomes of epic fantasy where you have a lot of information to remember or in books aimed at young readers, repetition can be beneficial. Here? It was extraneous page filler material that pulled me out of the story as previous information was rehashed and slightly reworded.

And as for the plot? Well, once again, I felt like I should have found it more intriguing than I actually did. I just didn’t find myself engaging with the entire cult/church threat. There are also girls who have gone missing, but as a reader I felt rather removed from them, and so I really did not feel any emotional investment in them, their capture or their recovery (gosh, that makes me sound horrible, but really, it was just like a story check point, side information for me rather than feeling like I was reading the harrowing disappearance of young women).

For the Audiobook version: I don’t feel like I would have enjoyed this book any more in print than I did in audio. But I have to say that I didn’t enjoy the narration much either only because I found the southern accent a bit hard to listen to. Although, in all fairness, it may have been spot on for how the character should sound. So, it could just be another aspect of the book that didn’t quite work for.

Overall, I can’t say I would recommend this book except maybe to people who are already huge Faith Hunter fans (that wouldn’t need my recommendation anyway). For readers new to the author, this book definitely works as a starting point, but seeing as how the Jane Yellowrock books are so popular, they may serve a better introduction to the author. ( )
  tenaciousreader | Jan 4, 2017 |
Nice twist on the paranormals. Will be interesting watching Nell explore her powers. Interesting backstory for her, although it is strong on the "if everyone would just talk to each other" all would be so much better. ( )
  bgknighton | Dec 8, 2016 |
I've been slowly reading it. I really need to just get it done. Doesn't help that I cheated and looked at the end. Not all the details. But for some reason struggling with this book. Finally got over the hump and had the book suck me in allow me to enjoy. I hope that Nell continues to be the primary focus like Jane Yellowrock, but that we learn more about her new team. ( )
1 vote pnwbookgirl | Oct 12, 2016 |
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When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her. Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell's doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville. Nell has a team--and a mission. But to find the Master's kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out.… (more)

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