The Dark Arts of Blood is much like the other books in this series: lush, sexy, gothic, and unapologetic about that. The plot and such are more or less the same sort of fare: mythology shaping the world, the world shaping the mythology, the vampires trying to live in peace but being fundamentally at odds with the world because of their need for blood… For the most part, this belated addition to the series works seamlessly with the earlier books; it also doesn’t descend into any kind of nostalgia for the older books. There are consequences. Things happen to characters who we wished were safe. The mythology and magic of the world — and the tumultuous period of history the books are set in — continues to intensify.
One thing which didn’t work for me was the sub-plot with Charlotte and the lamia. It’s much the same kind of conflict she’s already faced, which was resolved in The Dark Blood of Poppies. I didn’t buy that it would resurface like this, especially when other vampires didn’t face similar problems at all with the same stimulus.
Still, the addition of more vampires to the world, going further afield and seeing other countries, is definitely welcome. And despite the fact that they got together in the first book, the relationship between Charlotte and Karl still has the same intensity now. It’s also good that despite the fact that they disagree, there is rarely high drama about it — the second book showed the biggest threat of that, but they worked on it. That is always great to see in romance fiction.
Bottom line? If you like morally ambiguous, often amoral vampires who are actually scary and otherworldly and not just humans with stick-on fangs and extra sex appeal, I do recommend this series. I’m thinking of acquiring the books for myself (I read them all from the library) for later rereading. I never expected to get so caught up, from reading the first book — there’s something so deliciously self-indulgent about them.