Blood Ties Tutussaq A. Stauffer book review
book review

Book Review: Blood Ties

BLOOD TIES by Tutussaq A. Stauffer is about a vampire entangled in a generations-long revenge saga. Check out what Andrea Marks-Joseph has to say in her book review of this indie fantasy romance.

Blood Ties

by Tutussaq A. Stauffer

Genre: Fantasy / Romance

Available: Kindle Vella

Length: 24 Episodes

Reviewed by Andrea Marks-Joseph

A young woman awakes from sudden death to discover that she’s a vampire entangled in a generations-long revenge saga

When we first meet our protagonist, Arienne, she is in the hospital, dying. She’s suffering from a sudden, mysterious illness and certain she’s not going to survive it. Although this is quite a solemn tone to open the story with, it is the lowest moment of the book. Arienne’s death is not what this story is about. Blood Ties is about vampires. 

This fantasy romance is about Arienne uncovering an entire world of underground vampires with their own regulations, hierarchies, and secret sagas going back generations. Our protagonist dies soon after the story starts, as she predicted, and then suddenly wakes up in her coffin, ravenous for blood. “She had to find something to eat. No…someONE.” That’s when things get remarkably interesting. And from then on, this thrilling ride does not stop. 

One of Arienne’s first lessons in acclimating to vampire life is that she must change her name and disappear from her city, because there are vampire hunters looking for someone who looks like her. Someone’s placed “a sizable bounty” on her head. This news takes her to Paris, which becomes the main location for her adventures. She changes her name to Colette. At first the plot seems to be falling into place a little too conveniently: The first person she meets is the one who can help her, and knows the exact person who can help with the next thing. But it’s fun in the process and does not continue throughout the whole story. Blood Ties is fast-paced and non-stop. It’s a high-stakes fantasy world of family drama and falling in love.

Blood Ties is the movie you’re watching on TV that makes you immediately start talking to the screen. You’re constantly engaged. In the same way Colette’s hunger for blood rises within her, responses ignite within you on instinct. I found myself asking urgent questions aloud and reacting with shock as if it was all playing out in front of me. Then Colette finds that not only is she a vampire, but “a newly awakened elite.” This means she holds a great amount of history and potential power, if she can harness it and gain the support of significant members of the immortal community.

Alongside Colette, we learn about blood banquets and seductive feeding rituals; vampiric politics plays a key role in Colette’s life, survival, and the potential for any future she’s able to create. We are introduced to vampire protocols around medical treatment, legal disputes, elite bloodlines, and court procedures. Later, we discover a beautiful but frightening challenge known as The Danse Macabre —“equal parts a waltz, and a fight” —in which adversaries battle through simultaneous dance and weaponized fighting, using choreographed movements set to music. The Danse Macabre is a fight to the death, for which Colette trains physically and prepares mentally to compete against an elder who has never been defeated in this “two-day affair, the dance with death… they’d attack one another while keeping time to the music.” Colette constantly finds herself navigating the generations-old rules to free herself, avenge her loved ones, and build a fulfilling life.

“Family could be so stubborn. So unpredictable. The blood ties she had were fragile at best, and were becoming thinner and thinner as the days went on.” 

Blood Ties is a story about mothers, daughters, and feuding sisters. The drama never stops because these women—some of them conniving, others graciously kind—are imaginative with their planning and highly motivated to change the vampire world to suit their desires. One of the most notable and unique aspects of this story is that the Blood Ties universe is led by women. Women of all ages reign and educate while dominating and dictating the prospects of those around them.

This book’s cast is almost entirely female, and there are so many sapphic characters that, in general, where romance is mentioned, it’s always about a woman with another woman. Colette’s love interest, Nora, is flirty and welcoming, but we also learn that she has an overbearing, meddling mother who has betrothed her to someone else: a condescending, judgmental man. When Nora comes out to her mom as only interested in women, her mother’s harsh retaliation can initially be seen as homophobic, but it becomes clear that it’s more about controlling Nora’s future, an extension of her mother’s commitment to the elitist legacy. This is something to be aware of though, in terms of preparing for the experience of reading the terrible treatment and parental punishment Nora is subjected to because of who she loves. When Nora and Colette are able to find safety in each other, and begin a romantic relationship, the “I love yous” feel quite rushed, but the bond they share is well established, so it’s easy to lean into the romance and passionate connection between them. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the way author Tutussaq A. Stauffer describes details as soon we arrive at a new location or meet a new character—simple and brief, but clearly providing everything we need to imagine being right where the characters are. I especially adored being told the exact outfit each character is wearing in their scenes, and the architecture of the surrounding area. This book is a joy to read! The writing is precise and absorbing. One of my favorite phrases is: “The borrowed blood in her veins ran cold.” I also appreciated the captivating, relevant chapter titles, like “Clipping a Rose at the Stem”, “A Clash of Virtues” and “Interview with a Vampiress.”

I would recommend readers be aware of storylines including parental death; foster care; and a young woman being drugged, kidnapped, and held captive. 

I’d be extremely interested to see whether we get a Blood Ties sequel, as the ending is so satisfying and true to the protagonist’s wishes that it feels perfectly concluded. But there is enough lore hinted at and still to uncover that an inciting incident could easily unravel the neat and comfortable ending. 

Blood Ties would be great fun to read along with friends, as there’s so much happening that you’ll audibly react to and want to talk about. It’s great for fans of the Peacock show Vampire Academy and would absolutely appeal to anyone who is looking for sapphic vampire media. I’d gladly recommend this book to those who love twisty fantasy drama.

Thank you for reading Andrea Marks-Joseph’s book review of Blood Ties by Tutussaq A. Stauffer! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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