Chloe Neill: The Chicagoland Vampires Series

by Rachel Baker on November 1, 2009

I don’t normally read trendy vampire books.  That said, I was pressured, by one of my favorite people, to read these books.  She said, “now Rachel, I know these aren’t the type you would normally read, but they aren’t my normal smutty romance novels and I think you may actually really like them.  Please read them and see what you think.”  Her review of the first book, Some Girls Bite, sold me enough to give it a try.

I was, dare I say, pleasantly surprised.  I read both Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites in two days.  The books are very easy reading, engaging and interesting. More than the story itself though, I found the potential of these books more fascinating.  That could just be because I’m an Anne Rice fan and a Stephen King fan.  I’m not comparing Chloe Neill to either of these authors, yet…but I am saying there is a great potential for her to write a great big cohesive “big picture” story.

I am not a follower of the paranormal, and more specifically, the vampire genre of books, so I’m unable to give you an assessment of the accuracy of the vampire lore in the Chicagoland Vampires series; however, I will say, the lore is plausible, IF in fact there are vampires walking the Earth.

The Chicagoland Vampires series introduces Merit, who starts off book one as a human, but does not stay one for very long.  According to the books, the Vampires have a code, a human cannot be transformed without their consent.  And the real story begins.  Walking in the college quad one night, Merit is attacked by a vampire.  She remembers her throat being ripped out, then she remembers two different vampires standing over her.  Several days later, she sort of completes the transformation.  Apparently, the second vampires have saved her from the first who had tried to kill her.  Obviously, she was turned without her consent and she’s pretty pissed off about it.

The books have two major plot lines and many tiny subplots that have an opportunity to grow and mature into other series.  The first of the major plot lines is Merit’s development as a Vampire.  The second major plot line is the realization that Vampires have walked the Earth for centuries, set up a governing body, and has many different factions.  Merit is turned by the Cadogan House leader, Ethan; and learns there are several other houses within Chicago.  Recently, these houses have made themselves known to humans and the city humans have begun to make the Vampires into celebrities.  Except for one thing.  There’s been some vampiric murders.  Evidence points to Vampires from the different houses.  Its up to Merit to come to grips with being turned into a Vampire without her consent…and figure out who is actually committing these murders.  Enter Vampire Politics.

There’s some huge sparks between Merit and Ethan; her roommate, Mallory, is actually a sorceress, Mallory’s boyfriend is a high powered sorcerer (and weapons expert) who has been kicked out of the Order; and come to find out her retired cop grandfather is in charge of a secret city department who is all paranormal, all the time.  The affair between Merit and Ethan is not resolved, and I’m not actually sure it will be unless plans are to get married and make Merit the head of a new house, which would be a good political move.  But who knows. There’s also the possibility for a final battle once her roommate is “powerful enough” where Merit and Mallory have to join the Vampires and the Sorcerers to save the world. There’s a lot of possibilities, and I suspect the Chicagoland Vampires series could probably go on for several books.

Neill does not have the detailed depth of, say, Anne Rice, but she does have the opportunity to write several series of books which interlock for a bigger story.  The first two books, Some Girls Bite and Friday Night Bites, introduce us to Vampires, Sorcerers, and Shapeshifters, among other more minor (in these books) creatures.  Thus far, there’s a Vampire series, her next book is the first book in the Dark Elite series, which is about a group of rebel teen sorcerers who have apparently been corrupted by their power. The new one doesn’t really sound all that appealing, and if she was going to venture into a topic other than Vampires, I would have liked to see her venture down the sorcerer path with Mallory.

I am curious to see how Neill will develop the characters in the future and what other series will stem from these first ones.  The books are classified as paranormal romance and they are mostly PG-13 with maybe the vague inklings of NC-17.  Authors in this genre tend to have specific followings.  Unfortunately, because I don’t really follow the genre, I can’t give you the “if you liked so-and-so, you’ll like Chloe Neill.”  I do recognize it will be a possibility that the Chloe Neill followers have the potential to be all types of paranormal readers, though I do recognize that some will love Chicagoland Vampires better than the Dark Elite series and visa versa.  Hopefully, they will stick with her, and she won’t become a trend.  I, foresee, some great potential as long as she doesn’t get pigeonholed into what someone else wants her to write rather than what the stories could be.

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