Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 352 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Release date: August 7, 2012
Series: Chicagoland Vampires #6
Source: Personal shelf
Reviewed by: Jenn
Turned into a vampire against her will, twenty-eight-year-old Merit found her way into the dark circle of Chicago’s vampire underground, where she learned there was more to supernaturals than met the eye—and more supernaturals than the public ever imagined. And not all the secrets she learned were for sharing—among humans or inhumans.
Now Merit is on the hunt, charging across the stark American Midwest, tailing a rogue supernatural intent on stealing an ancient artifact that could unleash catastrophic evil on the world. But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the book for himself. No mercy allowed. No rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.
Warning: This post contains unavoidable spoilers about the previous Chicagoland Vampires novel, DRINK DEEP. Don’t read further unless you’re okay with spoilers or have read DRINK DEEP.
I really enjoy Merit and the world of the Chicagoland Vampires series so I’m very sad to say that I found BITING COLD somewhat underwhelming. The story picks up shortly after the end of DRINK DEEP, with Ethan and Merit on the hunt for Mallory, who was behind all of the badness in the previous novel. Merit obviously has some qualms about her mission but she wants to stop Mallory before anything else can happen with the Maleficium, the big bad book that Mallory and other baddies, like ex-mayor Seth Tate, are drawn to. Thus begins Ethan and Merit’s journey to the Maleficium’s new home, to protect it. From here, things spiral out into a larger storyline, involving fallen angels, gnomes, and more.
Let’s start with the stuff that I did enjoy: I really liked moving outside of Chicago and seeing more of the world that Chloe Neill has created. We get to learn more about the supernaturals who inhabit the world, and about the Order, which I’ve always been curious about. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Paige, a member of the Order who is tasked with protecting the Meleficium near the start of the book. She’s a cool character and I hope she sticks around so we can see more of her. I also really enjoyed the whole Seth Tate plot line, which I won’t discuss in too much detail to avoid spoiling it for you. I will say that I thought it was really cool and I love what the story reveals about the world and about the ex-mayor. (Hit me up on Twitter if you want to chat.)
On the downside, I was kind of meh about the Mallory storyline. I really like Mallory and she’s been given a very interesting arc over the course of the series so parts of BITING COLD felt a little anti-climactic after everything is said and done. While the stuff about familiars was very interesting, there was something about her punishment that didn’t feel all that serious, though I do understand that she’s more in need of rehab than jail time since dark magic is an addiction for her. I’m reserving full judgment until I read HOUSE RULES, the next book, because I think this could be a really awesome arc overall, which will show us a lot about Merit, Mallory, and Catcher, but this part of the story felt a little flat for me.
I’m also on the fence about Ethan and Merit. Don’t get me wrong, I liked watching Ethan and Merit negotiate their romance, but there’s a part of me that wishes Ethan had stayed dead because I thought it was such a ballsy move to have him sacrifice himself for Merit. I can understand why some readers are overjoyed to have him back but I feel like his rebirth is something of a step back. Despite this, I do still like him as a character and leading man and there are some neat moments in BITING COLD where he’s trying to figure out how to be back and what it means, for him, for his House, and for his relationship with Merit. And I did really like the way this part of the series is progressing. Both Merit and Ethan want to be together but there are obstacles in their way, which they strive to overcome. There are definite developments and I like that Chloe Neil doesn’t have them stagnating in a will-they-won’t-they place.
BITING COLD may not be my favourite Chicagoland Vampires book but there are some interesting developments that will likely sway future books. Merit’s world is a little bit bigger and a little bit scarier now but this novel ends in a way that has me really excited to see what happens in HOUSE RULES. Come on, February 5!