Blood Price (Vicki Nelson #1) by Tanya Huff Book Review

Write on: Mon, 26 Apr 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 2461


BLOOD PRICE is the first of the Vicki Nelson (or Blood) series by Tanya Huff. Originally published in 1991, it's hard to believe that it has been thirty years since I remember this book first coming out. It helped establish my love of urban fantasy, a genre that hadn't been entirely defined yet, and also propelled me on my way to becoming an author of it myself.

The premise is that private detective Vicki Nelson is a former Toronto police officer who left after being diagnosed with a progressive eye disorder that gives her poor night vision. Eventually, it will strike her blind and is driving her insane with the fact it cannot be fought. Vicky is an exceptionally tough woman who epitomizes someone trying twice as hard for half the respect. Vicki is aggressive and in control of all aspects of her life from her relationships to career. Her condition is something that can't be controlled and it compels her to take unnecessary risks. It even destroyed her relationship with her longtime partner, Mike Celluci, who tried to be comforting to her and just alienated her.

One of these risks she takes is confronting a serial killer who drains the blood of his victims and that she has a chance encounter with on the street. The irony is, and we find this out almost immediately, that it is not a vampire but a deranged college student seeking to make a Faustian deal with demons. The actual vampire in Toronto, Henry Fitzroy, is quite irritated with the sudden attention being paid to blood drinking creatures of the night. The supernatural is very much a secret in these books and he'd like to keep it that way.

What follows is an interesting team up between Vicki, Mike, and Henry as they form both a romantic as well as professional bond to seek out the serial killer despite the bubbling jealousy between the two men. One of the interesting things about these books is that Vicki sees no reason not to maintain a relationship with both men at the same time since, as far as she's concerned, it's her decision who she spends time with.

Polyamory is still very rare in mainstream fiction and it's interesting to see it portrayed here and tactily accepted by the men involved (if not without some jealousy on Mike's part). There's another part of this love triangle (square) in Tony Foster, a former prostitute that is a friend of Vicki's and someone who interests Henry as well. The ease in which Vicki moves between the men is refreshingly different and avoids all of the "will they or won't they" that defines so many novels.

The villain is also ahead of its time as Norman Birdwell, goodness that name, is a predictor of the future incel terrorists that would come to bedevil society. Like Harold in The Stand, he's a creepily entitled jerk who doesn't see women as people and is full of anger from a sense that he's not been given the respect he deserves. Tanya nicely deconstructs his misanthropy in general, misogyny in specific, and persecution complex to show that shows most of his problems to be self-made.

Blood Price is a pretty solid introduction to the books and I very much enjoyed it. I should note that the book series eventually spawned a reasonably successful television program that I also watched and enjoyed. Blood Ties adapts the first novel more or less faithfully to the screen so it's best to read the novels first before watching the show. Tony is absent from the show and replaced by Goth girl Coreen, who I admit to preferring. Sorry, Tony. Tony has the decent consolation prize of his own trilogy, though, called the Smoke trilogy.

Available here

Last modified on Monday, 26 April 2021 07:18
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.