fantasy and science fiction book reviewsHouse Rules by Chloe NeillHouse Rules by Chloe Neill

Chloe Neill’s CHICAGOLAND VAMPIRES novels have been brain-candy reading for me for a few years now. The books are quick reads that don’t require a lot of thinking but provide action, romance, humor, and occasional pathos. But, sad to say, I think I’m breaking up with this series.

I had high hopes at the beginning of this seventh book, House Rules. Neill introduces a mystery: two rogue vampires have gone missing, last seen at one of the vampire registration offices the new mayor has set up. In the other main plot, Cadogan House has voted to secede from the Greenwich Presidium, and that would surely shake things up a bit.

The series, however, has fallen into the same trap that Neill’s DARK ELITE series did for me. The plot often seems secondary to immature bickering among the characters. It’s not funny enough to work as comic relief; it’s just sniping. An example here is the cattiness between Merit and Ethan’s ex, Lacey Sheridan. The tension of the major conflicts gets lost in the shuffle when there’s too much of this.

Chicagoland Vampires (Book Series) by Chloe NeillChapters 11 and 12 of House Rules were the final straws. Both Ethan and Merit come across as incredibly stupid here. My examples are spoilers, so if you want to read them, highlight the following text:  How did Ethan not realize the GP wouldn’t let Cadogan leave without a fight? How did Merit not realize Lacey suspected her of cheating on Ethan, not of joining the Red Guard? These things are both painfully obvious to the reader. And then when Lacey tattled on Merit, how had she not thought up a better story to keep from blowing Jonah’s cover? The answer to all these questions, of course, is that the plot required it. I hate it when characters have to be stupid for the plot to work. It makes me lose respect for them, and since it’s so out of character, it also shatters the suspension of disbelief because it’s too obviously a plot device.

I don’t want to see Merit and Ethan, who were both established as smart characters, act stupid. I don’t want to watch them continually have relationship drama even after weathering Ethan’s death and resurrection. And I don’t want to get sidetracked by characters sniping all the time. I want Merit to kick butt and solve mysteries.

I think I’ll just tell myself this series ends with Drink Deep. Ethan came back to life, and then Merit and Ethan lived happily ever after and killed lots of bad things and ate lots of deep dish pizza. The End.

Release date: February 5, 2013 | Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book 7) In a city full of vampires, trouble never sleeps. At the tender age of twenty-seven, Merit became a sword-wielding vampire. Since then, she’s become the protector of her House, watched Chicago nearly burn to the ground, and seen her Master fall and rise. Now she’ll see her mettle—and her metal—tested like never before. It started with two… Two rogues vanishing without a trace. Someone is targeting Chicago’s vampires, and anyone could be next. With their house in peril, Merit and her Master, the centuries-old Ethan Sullivan, must race to stop the disappearances. But as they untangle a web of secret alliances and ancient evils, they realize their foe is more familiar, and more powerful, than they could have ever imagined.


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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