My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, visit:
Minotaur: Blooded is the book 1 of Naomi Lucas’s dark fantasy series The Bestial Tribe. From the title of the story, you should get an idea of what the book may or may not consist of. For me it was more about the blurb. It told me I should check it out. :P I was also in the mood for some... uh, dark and sexy fantasy-type stories. I got a lot more than what I had bargained for.
Minotaur: blooded is my first book by the author. Her other series looks to be sci-fi romance and I have no interest in aliens, much like I have none in vampires and werewolf (or any other shifter romances). I gave some of those a go by various authors at one point or the other, but never could finish any of them. I won’t explain why because this review is about Naomi Lucas’s book so I’ll just get right into it.
When you talk about fantasy/paranormal romances, I’m more of a girl who prefers stories about ghosts and haunting. I’ve read stories about incubus and Fae (fairies) and enjoyed those too. Mythologies are also a subject I’ve always been intrigued about. In the past, I’ve read romances that were rewritten or based on one mythology or the other. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to check out this book. Also, Minotaur, as a whole, isn’t a mythological character (or creature?) that I’m vastly knowledgeable about. I mean, I know what it is...sort of. Mmm. Okay so I did try to google after I read the book and the pictures I saw didn’t help. They’re kinda scary. It should be a challenge in itself to make a hero out of a Minotaur (or part Minotaur here) IMO but the author here tried just that. Whether she succeeded or not is a matter of complete personal opinion.
The whole setting of Minotaur: Blooded is fantastical. I don’t know where it is, and which era it’s based upon but sounded like medieval-era? But that matters not. Our h, Aldora, lives at a border town called Thetras which is also closer to a maze. A shadowy being on its own, the maze is an ever moving thing. It’s a labyrinth full of dark creatures with darker intents and the humans close to the towns near the border do their best to “appease” them by sacrificing whoever they deem fit to be thrown over the maze, in hopes that the beasts within won’t come out to grab them. It can be anyone from a petty criminal to someone who has been convicted of sorcery. It seemed like everyone was on their toes about this whole thing. Apparently if you rile the townspeople up, they might form a mob and track you down just for that purpose!
Since the labyrinth is ever-moving, it also claims towns as it moves forward. Whole town at a time that gets lost into the darkness of that place, its inhabitants never to be seen again. Most don’t make out of the labyrinth alive. And the few who have (even in Aldora’s own town) would never talk about what happened to them inside. They live an ostracized life on their own and others steer clear of them like they carry the plague.
Aldora has always been warned of the labyrinth by her parents. I think when she was young it was not as closer to her town as it is now so she has to be overly cautious when she’s out and about. The people are forbidden from venturing too close to the walls of the maze but on one fateful evening, Aldora finds herself doing just that. A voice lures her closer as she was returning from the market after selling her family-grown apples. She couldn’t help herself and got caught while talking to something behind it. After that there was no help for her. She was marked as a witch and thrown into the labyrinth for all eternity.
Vedikus Bathyr is our H who has spend an inordinate amount of time, namely since his birth, inside the labyrinth. He knows this place like the back of his hand; at least the most of it. He’s from a tribe of Minotaur that he and his brothers left years ago after they killed their father, the leader. Their human mother, who was a witch/sorceress?, was never seen again and Vedikus and his brothers have no idea where she’s gone. In the years that have passed, they’ve come to terms with it, thinking she’s been killed too. But the whole incident was too much for them (it’s narrated by Vedikus in much more detail later in the story) and the brothers left that tribe to build their own that they’d proudly call the Bathyr. However, to make certain their tribe thrives and grows strong, they need human brides because human blood is so potent that every creature that live inside this dark and dangerous place, wanted to taste it. Some, like Vedikus, wanted to mate with them while some wanted the humans as their food. You’ll read about ogres, hobgoblin, centaurs, barghests etc. as the story progresses.
Vedikus has been roaming the border of the labyrinth for a while now in search of, what I could deduct, of a human mate. He was also seemed to be protecting the border? I’m not entirely sure but since the moment we met, we find him killing and sizing up goblins and stuff, throngs of them at a time. At a point as he was talking to himself, he heard Aldora’s voice. It attracted him so much and called out to him that he hoped he could find that human female whose voice it is and claim her as his own. Soon though, Aldora lands on his lap when the townspeople throw her inside with the help of a pulley. Vedikus instantly knew who it was cause he’d heard of the humans since his mother was one. He’s seen them before. Vedikus also knew that humans ended up inside the labyrinth for various reasons; some thanks to their own people much like Aldora had. Some got inside willingly for adventure and most of the times paid with their life. But Vedikus knew Aldora was a victim who may never get out of this maze again. At any case, his mind was made up about her. He was going to keep her whether she liked it or not. She’d be his mate and have his…uh, little minotaurs :P which would be the beginning of their own Bathyr tribe. He knew his brothers were also looking for their own human mates so Vedikus was glad he’d already found his own.
As for Aldora, she now knew the creature who has been talking to her from behind the maze. He had a more human-like feature and build, though he was a bull. A part human, part Minotaur being. He was tall and well-muscled with horns and a pair of hoofs to complete his looks. His nostrils would relive steam instead of just air and his body was very warm to the touch. His skin, though human-like, was quite tough and webbed with scars from his many battles big and small. Vedikus, as he called himself, appoints himself as her protector the moment they met. Though Aldora tried to run from him at first, soon she knew if she’s to survive this scary place full of monsters she’ll need Vedikus’s protection. She also knew it came at a cost. She’ll be his chosen mate.
Soon Vedikus begins explaining his plans to Aldora. They need to journey to his home, where he and his brothers live. His home was a long way from the border; the journey is full of many perils. One of them is the fact that any human who is exposed to the labyrinth’s environment for too long gets poisoned by it. If he/she is too exposed they can become what I can only call zombies. In the first few hours (then days), Aldora could feel that she was losing any sense of smell and taste. Then her skin began losing any feeling too. Vedikus becomes worried though he knew of the remedy. Their perilous journey is well-narrated by the author, which revolves around a few places where they had to travel to to get the remedy for Aldora. And in the process, Aldora also begins to get a grip about her ‘new’ reality. The fact that this is going to be her home from now on where it’s basically the survival of the fittest, and the smartest too. If you’re not equipped both mentally and physically to survive, you won’t. Vedikus was much much more stronger than any human and his endurance level was also way higher. But he knew that Aldora was much delicate in nature and way more vulnerable since they are indeed attacked by various creatures who wanted a piece of Aldora for their own.
The book is basically the process of Vedikus and Aldora’s journey towards his home. There were odd happenings in between that’d simply leave more questions than answers in your mind, like that zombie village where humans once lived. They became so because they never had the cure. Vedikus makes certain that Aldora got hers since she was already on her way to losing those senses and he knew he was running out of time. There was a temple in the middle of that zombie land that was protected by a human-looking child like figure that Aldora soon figure out was nothing of the sort. It was just the façade of whatever it really was. We never get to know what that thing was though I thought we may later on. This part of the story was especially confusing, but this was also where Aldora gets her remedy, plus their first mating.
At this point, I was getting a bit restless. I can tell you that many things about this story rather went over my head. I had trouble imagining places and characters and the whole of it. I tried my best to go with the flow, but even then at some point my brain has had enough and I had to put it down for a week or so. After a break, I enjoyed the rest of the story. I’m not gonna tell you I loved it 100% cause there indeed were stuff that bothered me. See if I can point them out in the following:
1. The story has loads of killing going on since the beginning. I mean we met Vedikus while he was on a rampage. I had trouble envisioning the blood and the gore and the nastiness of the whole thing. The amount of ‘creatures’ Vedikus was killing around the border left and right was crazy. Would they stink? I think Vedikus mentioned something like that...I can’t quite remember. Not sure if anything magical will happen to spare others off the smell. I’m just a human who thinks like one and it grossed me out rather bad.
2. That brings me to the next point, hygiene of the protagonists. Especially of our hero. They didn’t have many opportunities to bathe and even the one time I read bathing, it was Aldora. I don’t remember Vedikus really thoroughly cleaning himself. Not even after one of his rampages. I mean I don’t know, again human brain processing like one. I can’t imagine...er, the situation (even after they had sex) unless there was magic at play and everything cleaned itself? :/
3. This also brings me to the last point, their mating process. I’ve read quite a few reviews down voting this story as ‘rapey’. All I’ll say is that it’s a matter of your taste and your perspective. Whether you think the sex scenes worked despite the circumstances in a particular story and/or the genre you’re reading. When you read dark erotic books with warning about dubious consent and scream ‘rape’ it’d sound rather ridiculous. Though this book isn’t anything like that I can’t say I enjoyed the sex scenes much, although I thought they definitely could’ve been hotter. One of the things was Aldora constantly claiming Vedikus’s, uh, ‘manbits’ being of extreme proportions like a bull. :| I’ll leave it at that............There was a lot to take in for me, quite literally! LOL
Still, in a really weird way I liked the world-building of Minotaur: Blooded. It’s like something I’ve never read before. The labyrinth was a crazy, multi-dimensional place depending on where you’re at in it. It’s either full of a kind of despair or a type of harshness that’s not always comfortable to read. I didn’t read a place where I’d like to be living in (unless there’s a part of it that’s different than what was portrayed). Even the place Vedikus lives in is a craggy, rocky mountain type area that Aldora had a tough time climbing. As for our H and h, I do think he came to care for her in his own way (which btw may not be like a human since he’s part beast so beware of that). For Aldora, I think she simply accepted him as her protector. She was in a perverse way very attracted to his ‘beastly bits’, for the lack of better word there. :P And by that I mean the characteristics that makes him a part Minotaur. I don’t know if that was love but they seemed to be happy with their arrangement. For me that was enough.
Now I’ll wait for the stories of Vedikus’s brothers. The next book would be out on 2019, though no idea when. I hope it’s not too far away because I’m intrigued to read more. 4 stars.