Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Mass Market paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release date: March 27th 2012
Series: Annabelle Lee #2
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Christine
The second book in a new urban fantasy series featuring mosquito-sized fairies with poisonous bites that drive humans insane.
It's only been three weeks since Annabelle helped solve the murder of Grace Beauchamp, and in the process, she discovered a secret world of invisible, magic-working people who have decided she might have what it takes to join their ranks.
As best as she can determine, Annabelle’s attack by a group of fairies has infected her with paranormal ability she did not previously possess, including being able to mentally move objects and heal wounds. Her new abilities appear to have few negative side effects, aside from creepy dreams. But would that change if she stopped injecting herself with the mystery drug delivered to her by the even more mysterious Tucker, one of the Invisibles? Leery of trusting criminals with her health, Annabelle wishes she had someone she could talk to about the changes in her life. Enter Hitch, FBI agent and Annabelle's ex, who's back in Donaldsonville on an off-the-books investigation. Hitch suspects that there's a government-funded illegal lab that’s developing a controversial fairy-killing spray that could adversely affect the existence of every living thing in the delta—including humans. And Hitch and Annabelle will have to find a way to work together if they're going to find a way to shut it down.
Blood on the Bayou is the second book about Annabelle Lee, one of the few who are immune to the toxic bites of fairies who thrive in the Louisiana bayous. After having solved a gruesome murder in book one, Annabelle is asked by her ex to help him investigate the death of a co-worker – off the books. Though solving the case seems to be the easiest thing in Annabelle’s life right now: she also has to deal with not only two but three scorching hot men, her newly acquired magical abilities and killer fairies out for blood. Add all that up and you get a riveting tale of magic and mayhem, set in an atmospheric small town in Louisiana full of crazy good characters.
Annabelle, the heroine of Blood on the Bayou is a deeply flawed character. In book one, she was a complete mess, barely functional. I was glad to see that in this second book, she definitely grows. She still has a hard time sorting out her feelings (who wouldn’t if you had to decide between three men) and she still ends up making rash, unwise decisions. Yet, there is a number of scenes where you can see that she is more responsible now. I’m completely fine with her getting her act together one step at a time, since nobody can go from pill and alcohol addict to responsible adult in no time. Slow character development just makes Annabelle more believable and realistic.
Another very interesting aspect of Annabelle’s life are the men who fight for her attention. Just like her, I was constantly torn as of which one I like best, as Cane, Hitch and Tucker are very different personalities. At the end of the book though, I was pretty sure that I made my choice. Tucker and his lazy charm and sexiness and sharp tongue kind of won me over. While there is a lot of drama going on, it never feels over the top. The unresolved issues with her ex-boyfriend are just as plausible as her problems with Cane, her sort of boyfriend. Annabelle has serious commitment issues, so the way she reacts to Cane’s desire for commitment is just natural. Annabelle has to go through a lot in this book in general, not just your typical relationship drama. We finally get to know some of the reasons why she is so messed up. I like how in each book we find another piece of the puzzle that is Annabelle and thus get to know her a little better. Discovering these tidbits about her past and understanding the whole story behind her behavior makes it considerably easier to feel for her.
Trust seems to be a major topic in this book. While Annabelle steps up and finally trusts someone with a secret she has been keeping, she is being lied to and kept in the dark a lot in this book and is deeply hurt when she finds out. Even more so as those who lie to her and keep things from her are those closest to her. It really pulled on my heartstrings to see her hurting over that each time.
In Blood on the Bayou there’s also a new development regarding her magical abilities. Surprisingly, the nasty fairies seem to be one of the sources she learns about her powers. Just like Annabelle’s magical abilities and her love life, the world Stacey Jay has created gets more complex in this book. Annabelle gains troubling insights in the world of the fairies and a shocking revelation about experiments with fairy venom at the end of the book looms ominously over the next. Even with that much going on, Stacey Jay manages to set exactly the right pace in this book. Fast, action filled scenes alternate with slower scenes heavy with emotions. Thus, you get thrilling, dark tale that will keep you up all night.
All in all, Blood on the Bayou is a perfect sequel in a great urban fantasy series. Sadly, this series doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves. If you’re a fan of character driven books with damaged heroines, unique and atmospheric world building and real character development, I strongly suggest you read this series. It offers everything I could wish for in a book.