Average Rating: 80 points, 4 ¼ stars
Complete with 5 novels and a short story collection
Genres: urban fantasy
Spinoff: Tony Foster
Victoria “Vicki” Nelson has recently quit the force as a detective because her physical disability, namely that her eyesight is degenerating, has become too bad to continue to work as a detective. While she doesn’t think she can work as a cop anymore, she is certain she can still work as a PI. Only, she isn’t able to let her job go, and decides to look into a case of a serial killer and finds more than she expected: a vampire, and new friend, and a demon. From there, her new friendship with Henry Fitzroy, the vampire, takes her further into the supernatural world.
Goodreads lists it as Vicki Nelson . Amazon lists the series as “Blood Series”. Wikipedia uses “Blood Books”. There is even a TV series that uses the name “Blood Ties” instead. I’ve also seen the variations on the first name Victoria and Victory instead of Vicki.
This is old for urban fantasy and came out in 1991. It isn’t the first series to be really described as urban fantasy, but Tanya Huff definitely got in early on the craze. This is one of the few urban fantasy series I’ve read that started before 2000, even. It is filled with things that you just don’t really see much nowadays. Urban fantasy is filled with first person perspective stories, but this is not first person. Henry is also also a large focus, and it jumps between his present and his past. We also see through the eyes of the villains when it is needed. The “monsters” who aren’t always monsters, and the humans who aren’t always very humane are also very well done. I’ll write a post on this later.
Vicki Nelson is awesome. Vicki is the only protagonist I can think of that I’ve read with a physical disability. She has a progressive degenerative disease that is slowly robbing her of her sight. At the start of the series, she has essentially no night or peripheral vision, and she is getting more myopic all the time. This is a problem when we’re dealing with creatures that stalk the night. While Vicki has some anger issues, it is due to grief. She is angry that her body is failing her and she can’t do the job she absolutely loved anymore. Vicki also starts the series with a love interest, and she has interests and I believe she actually existed prior to the start of the series.
Henry is also pretty cool. He is the bastard son of Henry VIII, and has been around a while. Also, a vampire. Henry serves as our guide into the supernatural. He also is the one to put a human face on the supernatural for Vicki to see. Henry isn’t bad, so the supernatural world couldn’t possibly be too scary. However, he also serves as a potential love interest, someone Vicki has seen as being interesting enough to pay attention to.
Over the course of the series, Henry and Vicki get closer, while drawing the jealousy of her human boyfriend Mike Celluci. However Henry is always calm, and their relationship together is very sweet. The jealousy does end up turning the love triangle sour over the span of 3-4 books. It comes down to nearly fighting in the street between the two. Mostly on the part of Mike.
The thing I loved the most was that this was just as much about the human reactions as it was about the supernatural bad guy. Yes, it is a straightforward urban fantasy with a PI trying to solve a crime. Yet it is more about the people than it is about the story. It is about what a human will do when they find out about the supernatural. It explores the human conditions: religion, brotherhood, friends, and duty. Humans are so frequently forgotten in urban fantasy, this makes the story shine out high.
However, the world building isn’t forgotten, either. It is rich in the way I only think about older urban fantasy being rich. Nothing is “unique” just for the sake of being unique, in order to have something about the series to stand out to others. The vampires are vampires (and not just humans who happen to drink blood), yet it isn’t left up to the reader to decide what type of vampires they are. It is explored, not just stated. My only issue is that Vicki accepts the supernatural way too easily. It is actually kind of hilarious how easily she accepts everything that is going on.
One of the best things is the mythologies Tanya Huff pulls from to make it. Do you know how many urban fantasy books I can think of that use a mummy as a supernatural creature? The mythologies aren’t just dumped on us to figure out how it fits into the world we already have seen for ourselves, either. They’re explored, and they contain just enough information so that what we don’t know is creepy as hell.
Blood Bank is a collection of short stories Tanya Huff has written in the Vicki Nelson series. Some are concurrent with the series, and some take place before and after the series. Some were more worth it to read than others.
The Vicki Nelson series is just a crown jewel of older urban fantasy that is really overlooked.