DNF at 57%: Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels # 1) by Anne Bishop

Daughter of the Blood - Anne Bishop

I'm always looking for a well-written dark fantasy novel and I promise you this: Daughter of the Blood doesn't even come close.  In fact, I really hate this book.


There are many books I've read and disliked, but hate is a harsh word and I rarely throw it into a review with such force.  I went into reading this book not knowing what to expect but it took me by surprise in the worst way possible.  I constantly put it down because it gave me such feelings of ickiness.  The entire story is convoluted and the worst aspect has to do with the protagonist, Jaenelle, who is not only a witch but is mysteriously "Witch."


There's a lot of of talk throughout the story of rape and pleasure slaves, but what really bothered me was the sexualization of young girls, specifically Jaenelle.  Several male characters make possessive comments about her due to her tremendous power as Witch and allude to how they cannot wait until she reaches womanhood.  It should be mentioned  that Jaenelle at this point in the story is no where near an age we would associate with a grown woman - she's a very young child.  Here's one of many repulsive excerpts pertaining to Daemon's attraction to Jaenelle as he's helping her onto her horse:


"Daemon had the feeling she didn't need help, but what he wouldn't have admitted to anyone for anything was that he wanted - he needed - to be able to touch her in some innocent way, even if it was just to feel her small booted foot in his cupped hands."


No no no no no no!  Ugh.


I'm not opposed to books with risque and dark themes, but there absolutely must be some underlying critique of a culture entrenched in sex, politics, and war.  Perhaps I didn't read far enough to find the critique, but I honestly couldn't stand reading another word.  Not only is Jaenelle's relationship with Saetan and Daemon SaDiablo disturbing, but the entire story is illogical: women rule this society as witches with different ranks based upon some system of birthright jewels they're gifted with but the class difference among the jewels is not at all apparent.  I cannot begin to explain the difference between a witch who wears a black jewel versus one who wears gray or purple dusk.  I also cannot buy into a society in which women rule and keep pleasure slaves and control men by using a "ring of obedience." 


I won't elaborate too much, but the role reversal that women are the ones obsessed with sex and basically prostitute men is not at all convincing.  I mean, really?!?!  I'm not saying women can't be cruel and selfish, but it should be noted that Saetan and Daemon are portrayed as more powerful than the witches in the book even though they "serve" these women, so it's really a false sense of power.  Also, women are still raped and murdered throughout the story so the witches we're presented with aren't in control of their society even though they're designated as queens.  It's distasteful and this is one of the most disgusting books I have ever read.