A Love Like Blood is a pretty disturbing book. I wasn’t sure that to expect when I requested it from Bookbridgr, and I’m a little worried that everything I say or tag it with is going to spoil the story somewhat. It’s a mystery, a slowly unravelling one, and part of that mystery is actually what genre we’re in here. I suggest you don’t read beyond here in this review if you’re planning on reading this; while I’ll try not to include spoilers as such, it still might inform your reading of the novel.
Given Sedgwick’s previous work, I expected it to have paranormal elements; I wasn’t expecting the darkness of this story, though perhaps from this quote on the back, I should’ve: “the worst monsters are entirely human.” I’m still not sure how exactly I feel about that bait-and-switch — everything about it seemed to suggest a sort of gothic vampire novel, especially with Lindqvist blurbing it.
In fact, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the whole thing. I admire the structure of it, the way it plays with the reader’s expectations: it’s very conscious of other books in the various related genres, I think. I admire the way it comes together, and of course it leaves me thinking back over the story and what each little event described means — because it does all mean something.
I’m a bit baffled by the way some reviewers reached the end of this and then still complained the character was not likeable enough to follow for the whole book. Well, if you read for likeable characters, then that’s valid, but I can’t understand finishing the book and then feeling that Sedgwick accidentally made his protagonist a creep.
In terms of the writing style, I found it a pretty easy read. It’s written in a slightly old-fashioned style, since it’s narrated from the point of view of an educated Englishman during/post WWII; I thought that was reasonably well handled, though I do find myself wondering why the narrator is telling the story, and to who.
All in all, I think I’m rating this a slightly uneasy 3/5. It possibly deserves more in some respects, but I can’t say I liked it. This is a compromise between the fact that I found it interesting but also repellant.