Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Blood Shackles by Rosemary A Johns is the second book in the Rebel Vampires series, following Blood Dragons. Light is a Blood Lifer (vampire) in London where First Lifers (humans) have decided they were superior. Now First Lifers have captured and enslaved the Blood Lifers for profit. His past consists of lost love and blood, but he has since changed his ways. When Light is captured, he refuses to lose himself, despite how his captors try to break his spirit and force him into submission. Being sold to Grayse is the ticket he needs out of his cell, even though her father owns the company that enslaves him. She gives him back everything they took from him: his bike, his jacket, his freedom. His growing bond to her gives him the strength to fight for his family, his people, and his rights.
Blood Shackles is brutally honest, tragic, triumphant, addictive, and somehow hopeful. I was so engrossed in Light's story that I didn't notice my Kindle was dying until it died. The whole novel is written as a journal by Light. Nothing is sugarcoated. It's a heavy topic of torture, abuse, rape, and manipulation. The brutal honesty that Rosemary A Johns puts into the story is commendable. Slavery isn't an easy topic to discuss, and taking our perspectives of vampires and turning it into a metaphor. The First Lifers think they're superior and treat the Blood Lifers like they're objects. There's no way to escape the truth of the story. However, Light's story is fulfilling. At the end the right people get what they deserve, and it definitely feels rewarding. This isn't a happy novel at all, but there are uplifting moments. This novel made me so angry, which is the point. Johns succeeded in creating a world, characters, and a story that pulled me in until I had to finish reading it. I had to know what was going to happen to Light, Hartford, Donovan, and Grayse. This is a novel everyone should read, along with Blood Dragons.