A Taste of Blood Wine is romantic. It’s chock full of smoldering description, intrigue and mystery, dark love, and all sorts of gossip and twists and turns.
The novel follows Charlotte, the daughter and lab partner of a scientist, as she rapidly falls for the vampire Karl. But then the plot thickens. Karl is completely under the power of his maker, Kristian, who demands total servitude and tends to lean toward the criminally insane, with his God-fearing notions and sick love of Karl. And Charlotte, naturally, winds up in the middle of it. But when Karl meets and falls in love with, Charlotte, Kristian decides to get Karl to come back to him by hurting Charlotte and her family. Karl then realizes that he must find a way to kill Kristian.
Warrington weaves a tale that has a lot of backstory. The novel is described as a cross between Downtown Abbey and True Blood, and I absolutely adore both of those shows. There are multiple characters and but not enough character development. I was disappointed to discover that A Taste of Blood Wine focuses solely on Charlotte and Karl, leaving most of the other side characters to fall lifeless and shallow to the side.
But I’m a sucker for the smart girl who doesn’t want to follow the rules of society, so when I initially dove into the book, I was hooked. The story takes place in England during the 1920’s, post World War I, and Charlotte has social difficulties that cause issues and divisions with her siblings and aunt. Her anxiety toward crowds and strangers creates a unique main character, which I certainly appreciated. The description is delicious, full of dark similes and description that makes me pause and reread it, simply because it strikes something in me.
Now, I’m going to put a disclaimer out here: I don’t generally like romance novels. I find them cliche and their characters shallow. However, I love vampires, and I love a good romance that is not necessarily a romance novel, and I was hoping that A Taste of Blood Wine would fall under this category.
The plot was engaging and full of twists. I won’t give anything away, but Warrington definitely impressed me with her ability to keep the story moving in quite a long novel, as well as to surprise me. I loved the God complex that Kristian has, as well as the doubts and issues of Karl, and the wavering, unsure faith of Charlotte. The novel delves into faith in a way that doesn’t make it the central part of the story, but definitely provokes thought.
However, I felt the characters to be shallow and underdeveloped. Charlotte’s sisters have no real passion or story of their own other than they bullied her. Her father is the typical father figure that appears in many novels, kind and loving but wanting his little girl to be perfect. Charlotte’s brother is strong and heroic, and Charlotte’s only confidante, her brother’s fiance, is just used to spur the story along or create dialogue about Charlotte’s thoughts and whims. I even felt the love between Charlotte and Karl to be stiff. I never got a true sense of why they loved each other. I got more of an explanation from Karl, but Charlotte just seemed to be obsessed, despite her thoughts and worries and ultimate decision that she was not, in fact, obsessed, just in love.
Throughout the novel, Charlotte claims to be fighting some sort of evil within her that no one understands. I understand the concept, but to me Charlotte was only fighting her obsession and love of Karl. She never truly does anything evil, and though I felt that Warrington did a great job at expressing Charlotte’s horror of what Karl was, I never felt that Charlotte really delved into her own personality. She feels like she isn’t a good person, but she never seeks out the reason why and goes deeper other than the normal societal reasons (sex before marriage, loves a vampire, and so on). She seems to exist solely on Karl’s existence and love of her, and to me, a woman who cannot move on by herself and take control of her own life is severely irritating and frustrating. There were many parts in the novel where I wanted to shake Charlotte and tell her to get her life together.
In short, it’s great if you like romance, but I never felt that Warrington did anything extraordinary with the characters or the plot. Even at the end, with a fascinating twist about the truth of vampires’ existence in the world, I felt left with a half baked idea, not thought through and not implemented throughout the entire novel.
Written on 17th May 2013 by Vanessa.
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