Zealot

Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles Book 2

Fiction - Fantasy - Urban
492 Pages
Reviewed on 04/02/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

My name is Carla Vonzale Lewis and I like my martinis shaken… never stirred.
Carla was born in Georgia, but please don’t mistake her for a Georgia peach. She’s more like a prickly pear. Speaking of being born, someone asked her recently if she remembered her birth. And she had to say, “Yes, I do remember that handsy doctor pulling me out into the cold. Right Bastard!!!”
Despite being born in the south, she grew up in California. And every once in a great while, she gets to experience all four seasons. But mostly, it’s just heat.
When not writing, Carla enjoys reading, binge watching shows on Netflix, and spending time with her loving husband, Bobby.
And one day, she will discover how many licks it actually takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite

In C. Vonzale Lewis’s urban fantasy Zealot: Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles Book 2, Ronald Stewart is mocking Nicole. Goading her. Sending pictures of the people he had killed, people who looked like her. He was killing her in his mind over and over. Killing the innocent and announcing it to her once he'd moved on. It was torture, and she was helpless. He was out there because she had failed, but he was not her only issue. Nicole discovered that the practice of blood magick on Tulare was more prevalent than she had thought, and a contract to find and deal with those responsible was just what she needed. Her investigations led her to the Young family. A visit to a church started more than she bargained for, raising questions and stirring memories that she wasn't ready to face. Her past was deeply intertwined with cults, and the present has brought her back to this scene, but can she stay focused long enough to see clearly, or will her past and present troubles seal her fate?

I enjoyed the fact that all the characters in C. Vonzale Lewis’ Zealot had their demons; while some were mental, others had a more physical demon to battle. Written in a flowing style, I found myself advancing effortlessly through the story, wondering what would be uncovered next, which truths and deceptions would be revealed, and what the motivation and schemes lurking beneath the surface would produce. I enjoyed the tiny threads woven in the plot that expanded the story and hinted at things to be unraveled, but nothing is ever as it seems, especially with countless twists and a good helping of mystery to keep readers on their toes. As this is the second book in The Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles Series, settling in with characters who've already had one adventure can be difficult. As the story unfolds, all the important aspects are included to give the bigger picture to anyone who hasn't read the first book. There's an ever-present threat looming, piquing curiosity and creating a rich environment. Nicole's battle with her past, while trying to come to terms with and understand the fallout from things kept sealed and hidden, is amazing to watch and her personality shines through. This was a fun and gripping read that will keep the reader entertained from beginning to end.

Asher Syed

Zealot by C. Vonzale Lewis is a dark fantasy novel and the second book in the Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles series, preceded by book one, Lineage. The book begins with the main character, Nicole, in the aftermath of excruciatingly deep trauma but not on her own when it comes to the connection between Tulare Island and blood magick—the potent source of power that Nicole, no longer alone, is determined to crush. Or, at the very least, survive. Tulare Island proves there is no shortage of creepy folk and nothing says creepy better than an isolationist church with a murky view on eschatology, a sex magick society of women, and ancient evil that goes back thousands of years. It does not take long before Nicole becomes ensnared in danger she knowingly walks into, potentially sacrificing her incipient power to strengthen another's. “You lack the skills to really understand what you’re seeing.”

By the time we pick up Zealot by C. Vonzale Lewis, those of us who have read Lineage have already graduated from Nicole 101: the psychology of an acerbic and mind-numbingly stubborn main character. She's perfect for the world Lewis has built because she is damaged, and that's why she works. Nobody in their right mind would dig around old apartments looking for paperwork on a cult or asylum. We need a Nicole for that. The narrative is sharp, intelligent, and wonderfully entertaining. The sophomore novel of a new author is exciting because you see first-hand the maturing of a writer. I like the blending of modern issues with the aspect of ancient Egyptology. The irony here is that thousands of years ago North Africa was the seat of power, but on Tulare Island, Nicole is narrating about the prevalence of POC getting arrested, and so we actually see social evolution happening in reverse. I'm not joking when I say that is scarier than blood magick. Anyway, there is the continuation of some really good sizzle between Nicole and Alek, who walks into traps of his own. Match made in heaven? Or....somewhere else? Overall, this is a wild ride and I'm looking forward to the next journey.

Jamie Michele

Fast-paced and full of intrigue, book two in the Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles, titled Zealot, comes on the heels of C. Vonzale Lewis' series first book, Lineage. If it seems like protagonist Nicole Fontane has been to hell and back, there's a reason for that. Her childhood was circumscribed by the worst possible forms of assault and now, as a young adult, the onslaught of violence continues. Called back to the terror of Tulare Island, the probable emergence of more blood magick manifests itself in The Better Day Church and its dark past. Once more, Nicole's life swirls around a sacrarium of doom but this time she enters somewhat willingly. To get out alive and with the mission accomplished, Nicole must first come up against a woman who siphons off the power of anyone in her path.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have not yet read Lineage by C. Vonzale Lewis and started reading Zealot without knowing what happened to Nicole before. Zealot is not hard to get into as a stand-alone and Lewis incorporates backstory in a vein that permits ease of understanding [bad pun regretfully intended]. Nicole is troubled and battered, and is a walking, talking example of fifty shades of physical and emotional baggage. “We all have bonds we need to break,” she recollects. Nicole is also a fighter; brave and self-aware. She does not subscribe to the antiquated, sexist social construct of female sexual repression. She does not clutch pearls. She harnesses her agency. She deftly weaponizes her pain. She survives. This strength of character is the backbone of Zealot and is a superb link to a baptism of blood and how she withstands The Daughters of the Vine. Lewis is supreme in the writing craft of dark fantasy and I will definitely be reading the next book, but first I will go back and gobble up Lineage.

Candace Robinson

For those who read Lineage, be prepared for Zealot’s wild ride. First, I love Lewis’s writing and how she takes a reader down a road that they think they know but no, they do not! The twists were great, the writing fabulous, and I especially love Alek!! What I loved so much was seeing Nicole’s growth as a character. She has been through some tough times and I want to hug her. I don’t want to give away anything so definitely check it out. It’s a sequel not to be missed!

Geff Ratcheson

I first discovered Ms Lewis when I was an ARC reviewer for the Between The Cogs anthology. I really liked her story. And the highest compliment a reviewer can pay an author is to purchase future books, even if not invited to the Arc team.

I have purchased & read both books in this series (I expect there to be more) & thoroughly enjoyed them. I find Ms Lewis to be one of the freshest & most creative voices in the Urban Fantasy field today.

I don't like to make a review just a plot summary, so I will talk about what I liked & what I didn't like as much.

+
The main protagonist, Nicole. I don't know the author, & I am just guessing here; but are so many intimate details about her emotional state, that it makes me wonder how much of herself the author put into the character. Either way, very well done. Most of the main characters are well fleshed out, & the plot keeps me interested.

-
Not the author's fault in any way; but it's long enough since I read book 1, that I probably should have re-read it before starting Zealot. I was a little lost from lack of my memory in the first 1/4 or so. I would not suggest reading this as a stand alone. Really the only other negative for me is there are a lot of characters, & some seem to pop up for a page or 2 in a manner suggesting I should know who they are. I found that to be a minor frustration.

Either way, this book is great stuff & look forward to what I assume will be book 3. It is not stated that there will be a 3rd book, but there are still lots of loose ends to tie up, so I suspect we'll get at least 1 more in the series.

Dave Wickenden

On an island filled with mages, ancient ones and Gods, there are some who don’t care for their place in the food chain and hope to use blood magic to move up the ladder. In fact, with a finger on the pulse of a God, most would sacrifice anything for the opportunity. Nicole and her group investigate one such cult only to find that there are more questions than answers. And more moving targets. Who is the real enemy and what lurks behind the scenes?

Zealot continues the story that began in Lineage. Lacing magic and demons, the author takes us on a freefall ride of terror and violence as Nicole and her friends take on the monsters that hide and feed on the innocent. Because Tulare Island is the gathering place for those who live in that magical world of shadows.

The wait will be long, but I’m sure the sacrifice of time will ensure the next installment will be that much more blood soaked and consuming. I can already feel the beat of its heart.

Rita Smith

OMG-It seems like I’ve waited forever to read Zealot. Fortunately, though I have it ordered I received an advance copy from the author.

This story fulfilled all my expectations. I thought I guessed some things, but was wrong. Ms. Lewis kept us on a fast track with everything that was happening. She led us down the wrong avenues on purpose I think. This had a satisfying conclusion, while leaving the way open for Tribe. Now, I think I’ll be waiting on pins & needles for Tribe. I purposely kept out of the story in my review, because I don’t want to leave spoilers. BTW- I think aside from Nicole and Alek, Rachel is my favorite character. I think the story of the old ones creation would make a good prequel.

Leslie Rush

C. Vonzale Lewis delivers a fast-paced thriller in "Zealot," diving back into the dangerous, lush world of Tulare from "Lineage," the first book in the series. Nicole, Alek, and the rest of the members of the Team are drawn deeper into the mysteries of a dangerous bayou cult bent on cementing its power with old gods, demons and blood magick. Nicole fights her own demons as she learns why her family kept her in the dark about her own powers. As she battles for the lives of her friends and family, she peels back painful layers of her own truth in true Nicole Fontane fashion—sassy, sexy, sarcastic and sensational! This is the book Lineage fans have been waiting for, and it truly delivers.

Kelli

From one of my favourite authors, C. (Carla) Vonzale Lewis, comes the latest in the world of The Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles!! I warn you now, be prepared to not be able to put it down until you finish it! In other words, don't start it on an evening when you have to work the next morning! I am writing this review after having read an advance copy of the book - in less than 48 hours. Let me tell you, there was very little sleep mixed it with the page turning! I will be very careful to NOT include any spoilers. I loved, Loved, LOVED this book! You can likely tell that by the fact that I read it in less than 48 hours. Could. NOT. Put. It. DOWN!!! So, you might ask, what did I like about it?

Well, here 'goes:

1. Our author, Carla, did a really great job of including bits of Lineage, the first book in the series, to get those of us who read it a while ago enough of a reference to refresh our memories, yet without retelling the entire story. (I hate when authors put out a sequel and spend a good half of the book re-telling the story that came before!)

2. Along that same train of thought, she also made it so that if a person missed Lineage, they could easily read Zealot as a stand-alone book. Though WHY anyone would not then get their butts to the store or online and BUY Lineage, I have NO idea!

3. She kept the characters true to who and what we would have expected, while further developing them and yet, not getting bogged down in the details.

4. Once again, the story started steamrolling ahead right off the bat. There was no dawdling to be found in this book, from the beginning all the way to The End.

5. The tension between the couples was very successfully built, without being superfluous. There was absolutely nothing that was extraneous in this book. There was a purpose for everything. Nothing 'gratuitous' at all.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to read this wonderful book and provide whatever feedback I could. I can't WAIT for Tribe!

Carla, my friend, keep on doing the wonderful work that you do!

Elizabeth

Nicole is back with her wit and sarcasm in full effect! A lot of the things that happened in a Nicole in a short amount of timr. Everything she thought she knew about herself wasn't true. She feels betrayed by her parents and has opened her eyes to her friends that even her friends lives are not how she perceived them.

Zealot picks up right after the events of Lineage ends. Nicole is picking up the pieces of her life and that of her friends. She is part of a team now and is striving to become a better person and break bad/old habits. At the same time, she and Team Devlin are continuing their fight against the blood magicj users of Tulare and the spilling of innocent blood.

Team Devlin has successfully stopped the evil Stewart family from Tribec insurance sacrificing people to gain more power. Now they have set their sights on the Young Family and their Better Day Church. It is a lot more cult like than your average church. Is the young family a bunch of cultist, religious zealots or are they practicing blood magic? There is definitely something not on the up-and-up going on.

This story is jam packed with such well developed characters and you can tell that Lewis has spent a lot of time researching and world building. I love the will they won't they tension between Alec and Nicole. We are learning more about all of the members of the team as they try to get Nicole to open up and give her the help and love and friendship she needs. This story is full of exciting twists, turns and mystery sure to suck in many avid readers. I loved it and am looking forward to the next installment.

Haley Smith

Tw: violence, cannibalism, torture,murder, mention of rape, cult

So I haven’t read the first book, but right from the start the author kinda recaps some of the major things I presume happened in the first so that’s kind of helpful. The world building is incredible. I would consider this a dark fantasy. The plot and story is easy enough to follow and captures your attention from beginning to the end.

Thomas

A definite must read. Wonderful characters and pace, interesting from the start.

Add this to your reading list.

Shell Moore

Oh, Nicole. She's trying so hard to better herself. Her, and Alek are absolutely adorable. I did miss the spice in this book, but I understand why it's not there. Besides that, this book was amazing. New additions to the Old Ones are added, we get more background information on Nicole, and the team. I'm eager for the next book. I love this series. It's so good! Thanks Netgalley for the ARC copy!