BOOK REVIEW: Blood Rite, by Rachel Harrison

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Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • A Standalone Novella
  • Focuses on the Blood Angels
  • Published by Black Library in 2019
  • A Grimdark war story
  • 152 pages

The Blood Angels. Masterful warriors, and heroes of the Imperium. But these legendary soldiers are beset by an enemy they cannot overcome. A darkness within their own blood, passed down through generations, and rearing its head at every bloody opportunity . . .

Novellas are a great way of exploring a character, an event, or an idea, all without needing to pad it out with unnecessary details. It’s a format science friction the genre of ideas – is uniquely suited for. Despite this, there are few publishers (and indeed authors) who regularly put out shorter works of fiction. Anthologies, yes. But rarely novellas. Tor.com have a strong novella line, and Solaris are getting in on the action too. But most of the novellas I read these days are from Black Library. These novellas are usually little slices of the larger universe, but sometimes they really standout. Blood Rite isn’t one of those standouts, but it’s still a fun little story. If your definition of fun includes bloodshed, murder cults, and gore. Which, if you’re reading Warhammer 40,000 fiction, it probably does.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I’ve sworn off Space Marine content. Multiple times. Every time I finish a Space Marine novel, I tell myself it’ll be the last one. But every time I go to a Warhammer store, I end up with a chunky, ceramite-clad supersoldier staring at me from the book covers in my shopping bag. What can I say? I’m a weak man.

Blood Rite doesn’t break any boundaries. If you know what a Blood Angel is, then you’ll know what to expect from this book. If you don’t, then here’s a summary. Blood Angels are a breed of Space Marine who are cursed with space vampirism. Yes, it’s odd. Welcome to Warhammer 40,000. In Blood Rite, as with most Blood Angel tales, that curse in their bloodline comes to the forefront. In particular, it’s brought into contrast with that other blood related Warhammer phrase ‘Blood for the Blood God.’ Being a primarily action-driven novella, the story doesn’t go terribly deep into the similarities between Space Marines and traitorous heretics. Nevertheless, it raises the bar for future novellas.

Blood Rite isn’t an especially memorable story, but it is an entertaining one. And with a price as low as its page count, it’s hard to find anything to complain about. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m swearing off Space Marine stories. Again.

If you enjoyed this book, you might also like:
Honourbound, by Rachel Harrison
Mark of Faith, by Rachel Harrison
The Complete Rafen Omnibus, by James Swallow

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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