Those of you who follow these reviews may recognise the name Mark Jonathan Runte. It was less than a month ago that I reviewed his Midwinter Nights duology, Wolf Prince of Kstovo (you can read my review here), and Zolushka (and you can read this review here). However, short fables aren’t the only place this author excels; I reviewed his previous novel, Ash (naturally, you can it, too—right here) about nine months ago. Like that novel, Bound in Blood sits within Runte’s Mythos universe, and is an urban fantasy tale that blends Greek mythology with modern life.
If you follow my reviews, you’ll have noticed that when a book is part of a series, I’ll wait until the review is about to draw to a close to discuss how it works as a standalone book. I’m breaking with tradition (and the style guide in my head) this time around because of the unique circumstance (for my reviews, at least; I’m likely not the only person who will experience Mythos in this way) I find myself in. I have read the previous novel, Ash, but not the novella, Silver and Salt. Aside from both sitting within the Mythos series and focusing on Greek mythology-infused urban fantasy, Ash and Bound in Blood stand apart from one other, focusing on different characters residing in a singular literary universe. However, Silver and Salt focuses on the brothers Aran and Tristan, who return in Bound in Blood. Despite this linkage and my having not read the novella, I didn’t feel as though I’d missed a single part of the story. Bound in Blood stands alone and works as a satisfying tale when read in isolation. It’s left me deciding that I should read Silver and Salt, but that’s from the strength of this novel and my desire to learn more about these characters, instead of a need to understand this story.
While I am sure that reading Silver and Salt will add to Bound in Blood’s resonance, this novel feels as though it was written for readers coming in blind. It doesn’t open with exposition about what’s come before, ensuring it won’t bore returning readers; it instead takes the opposite approach, opening on a mysterious note. The mystery builds as the story moves along, creating a slow burn reveal of its mythological elements and how they tie into the story. I imagine this won’t be as mysterious for returning readers, but the use of Susannah—a point of view character who is experiencing the world of Greek mythology outside of books for the first time—should draw them in, experiencing this story through her eyes.
With this overarching sense of mystery, I won’t be discussing the specifics of Bound in Blood’s plot. To do so would be to spoil the many surprises it offers. If you read the blurb, it tells you everything you need to know about the story, which isn’t very much at all, outside of some oblique teases. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews that feature Greek mythology, I’m a huge fan of those tales. I appreciate the depth Runte digs into, and would love to discuss these elements, but doing so would be saying too much about it. There are wonderful revelations in the book, some of which are perfectly delightful in how much sense they make in hindsight after not clicking to them beforehand. Instead, you should sit down, read the book and hypothesise how Greek mythology will play into the story—until it does—and then enjoy how it crops up throughout the novel.
Through the fantastical and mythological elements Runte includes in his stories, humanity always shines through. This is true of Ash, and it is true of Bound in Blood. In these Mythos novels, humanity is the glue that binds the story together. The aforementioned Susannah, as well as brothers Aran and Tristan, all serve as point of view characters. Each is a joy to follow, with their perspectives being engaging. They all feel like real people, with realistic reactions to everything happening around them. Each of these characters brings a level of heart to the novel, and they are all easy to care about.
The other human characters in Bound in Blood don’t have much space dedicated to them, but where they do appear, they are entertaining characters. The various mythological characters, some who have more words dedicated to them than others, are thoroughly entertaining. Between them, they populate the book with a fairly large cast, but at no point does it feel overstuffed. Regardless of whether a character is mortal or immortal, a point of view character or one who appears briefly, their dialogue is well written. Everybody feels distinct from one another, and the mythological characters don’t sound as though they’re deliberately out of time; instead, they all blend with the book’s urban setting.
At 329 pages in paperback (or 291 pages in hardcover, or an estimated 285 pages on Kindle), Bound in Blood is not a particularly long book, but is long enough to service the story, its plot, its characters, and its mythological elements. The story builds slowly over its pages, but it never feels as though it’s slow-paced. Instead, the pacing carefully builds over the course of the pages, keeping the reader hooked as they anticipate what comes next. A fair amount happens in the book, and with the quieter moments added throughout it, it never feels as though it’s overstuffed; everything flows flawlessly.
Despite its page count, Bound in Blood feels like a shorter book. While a fair amount of this is due to the way the story builds, a lot of it is courtesy of its prose. Throughout the novel, it is clean and concise. Instead of featuring flowery language, it tells the reader everything they need to know in an economical way. While this approach can risk a book feeling underwritten—likewise, flowery language can make a book feel overwritten—at no point does it feel this way; it simply feels like the author has used his words judiciously. The paragraphs are short and sharp, and flow together nicely. While in my review of Ash, I mentioned it felt like it could have used an extra round of edits, Bound in Blood’s editing has ensured the book reads smoothly from beginning to end.
Bound in Blood is a fantastic urban fantasy that slowly reveals itself. Its linkages to Greek mythology shine, and if you’re a fan of the mythology, you’ll likely enjoy its elements here. With characters who help the book’s humanity shine, they will draw you into the story, which will keep you hooked. After reading this, I’ve resolved to read Silver and Salt, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Runte takes the Mythos world next.
He had enough strength to fold jeans and t-shirt into a waterproof bag, marking the place with a scrap of bright red ribbon before his knees gave out beneath his weight. A woman’s gentle hand brushed over the curve of his shoulder, and he forced his eyes open to see her. Thana?
Mythology had given her the wrong gender and demeanor. She was death but she wasn’t as cruel or spiteful as the stories said she was. She offered him a sad smile and sat back on the balls of her feet, left hand extended for him to take. “It was always Thanatos in the tale, what little they told of me, but I preferred your version better. Still do.”Bound in Blood: A Mythos Novel, Chapter Thirteen
Bound in Blood: A Mythos Novel was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Bound in Blood is available on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon. A paperback version will be released in the near future.
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Interested in purchasing Bound in Blood?
Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.Bound in Blood: A Mythos Novel