"The memory no longer seemed like it was his. It belonged to an innocent boy full of life."
Blood Divine is one of those books where it's hard to identify the main genre. It's m/m but it's not a romance focused story. Not Urban Fantasy either - I'm settling on a blend of horror/fantasy with some m/m romance thrown in. Paranormal elements abound.
After a creepy prologue that shows a strange experience that happens to a group of children, chapter one opens the main story years in the future where main character Cooper Causey is an unsettled man returning to his hometown to check on his grandmother after she left an alarming voicemail. All is not well at home in a small, creepy Georgia town - but Cooper apparently had no idea how twisted things really are, nor how unique he actually is. Enter a long-lost love opportunity that never settled, some new 'team members' who show him the light (kind of), and you have an interesting story.
The first half may have been the best part - Howard is excellent with words and I fell into the story right away. The build-up was especially intriguing because there's no way for the reader to know what's going on. The prologue ended in a way that sort of cut-off, leaving that a mystery that isn't revealed until later. There's an ominous feel about the grandmother with clues that don't add up in the house, and even the romantic figure is better in the build-up part because of the awkward memory moment and things left unsaid. Even if the firs thalf is the best part, the rest of the novel has a lot going for it too. I will say I pegged this as a weird ghost story but didn't expect it to have another supernatural regular pop up. I won't reveal what it is since that would take away from the story a little.
The story came apart at some of its seams later, especially during some action sequences. The romance didn't stay as strong as I'd like since the characters had a pre-existing emotion that the reader learns about right away instead of experiencing and growing up to. There's the potential of heat but it's not shown in the first book either. Some of the dialogue lost me at times during the ending, but overall the writing stayed solid. Pacing is dependable and doesn't sag at any time.
While the world-building isn't ultra unique, it does put in some inventive issues - namely in dueling groups. There's a twist on who to trust. The ending thankfully didn't dish out a cliffhanger, but it did leave an opening for a sequel, which I'll definitely be reading. Love the combination left standing together at the end and I'm intrigued about future possibilities. The villain feel is a bit cheesy and needs some work, but the writing style flows well, the main character is easy to like, and it's a paranormal themed ride set in Haunted Georgia (which gives extra brownie points automatically.)
An honest review has been given after acquiring this arc from netgalley