McLeod, Suzanne: The Sweet Scent of Blood (2008)

The Sweet Scent of Blood - Suzanne McLeod

Sometimes I wonder if power is THE most basic of our needs. The power to control our own lives, the power to control our environment and the power to control others.

Take the power to control our own lives. Genvieve Taylor never had power over her life. Her creation was a genetic experiment between two incompatible races. Once that succeeded she was promised to someone extremely powerful and extremely deranged. And finally, at the age of 14 she was injected with a poison (V3) that made her vulnerable to vampires.

Our main character never seriously thinks about giving up the fight for the right to decide what to do with herself and her own life. The Sweet Scent of Blood is for the most part about that battle. And battle it is.

At the beginning of The Sweet Scent of Blood Genny imagines she has achieved a modicum of control over her life, in fact about as much power as most of us can expect to have. She has a job, protection against the vampires, a place to live and friends. Yet power over our own lives is often an illusion. Illusions are easily snatched away by someone more powerful or someone willing to engage the help of the powerful.

Being one of the sidhe fae, a bean sidhe, would normally make Genvieve one of the more powerful people of the world of Suzanne McLeod. But her mixed heritage is unhelpful and Genny’s inability to accept who and what she is acts as a barrier in reaching her potential. In McLeod’s London she also happens to be the only sidhe fae. Sadly, this only makes her more attractive to both those who wish to use her and those who wish to destroy her.

In my mind the only person in The Sweet Scent of Blood who is wholly on Genvieve’s side is Hugh Monroe. Hugh has an intense need to protect those who are in need of help. Genny came into his life when she was infected with V3 and has remained there ever since. His protectiveness made it natural for him to wish to enter the police force. He works as a DI at The New Scotland Yard and happens to be one of the straight cops at that facility. We soon discover that not all who work for the police do so for the same need to protect and serve the public.

The Sweet Scent of Blood starts out as a mystery and ends up as a battle amongst the mighty of Genny’s London. Genvieve seeks the answer to who killed Melissa. Was is Roberto, her boyfriend, or was it another character? Through the story we see that sometimes Genny is aided in her search for answers but for the most part barriers are thrown up, one after the other.

The Sweet Scent of Blood - Suzanne McLeod

In their scrabble to stay on top, the powers that be have decided that the faery are to remain without civil rights. Civil rights is something a great many of us take for granted. I find it comforting to imagine that if something terrible happened to me then I would be safe because Justice would have its day. Sure, it’s just an illusion but one that is legislated for the likes of me. One hundred years ago women did not have the right to vote nor did they have many of the other rights that men did. Disabled could still be sterilized in Norway a long time after that. Many people have sacrificed a great deal to make it possible for me to have the power over my life that I do.

Faery do not. Vampires do, but faery do not. Witches have civil rights, but faery do not. Regular humans have civil rights, but faery do not. Do I have to look far to find people without written legislation to protect them even today? Sadly, no. In The Sweet Scent of Blood the reason for this lack of power lies for the main part in looks. Some of the faery can be frightening looking and some of them are extremely dangerous. Their ethics are unfamiliar to humans. All of these factors have been utilized by the masters of power games in making the faery less powerful.

The Sweet Scent of Blood is one of my re-readables. I know it is supposed to be Suzanne McLeod’s first published novel, but it holds none of the earmarks of a first novel. Indeed she manages to stay on-key throughout the whole story. Definitely recommended.

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