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About Blood Mark by J.P. McLean
What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive?
Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.
After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:
The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.
Blood Mark Review
I was compensated by the publisher for writing this review. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and are based on my honest personal experience reading the book. Nor did the publisher in any way shape or form ever pressure me to give a positive review.
Blood Mark follows our female protagonist Jane Walker who was abandoned at birth and grew up being mistreated due to her unusual birthmarks. Now that she’s an adult, she is traversing Vancouver’s harsh underbelly with her friend Sadie. Even as an adult, Jane’s life is still made more difficult by the intricate, blood-red birthmarks across her body and the terrifying nightmares that haunt her at night.
Things start (maybe? possibly?) turning better as Jane meets a man who loves her despite her birthmarks. The birthmarks that have long been a source of embarrassment for her begin to disappear, suggesting a prospective change. However, the disappearing birthmarks also correspond with a terrifying change in her nightmares, which transforms them into visions of imminent danger for others. Jane enters a high-stakes race against time to outsmart this lethal foe after realizing that her birthmarks act as a barrier to keep her safe from a persistent killer.
One notable feature that immediately caught my attention was the brevity of the chapters. Each section was succinct and fast-paced, which undeniably lent an energetic rhythm to the overall reading experience. However, the speed of chapter switches, combined with the frequent shifts between different POVs occasionally disrupted the narrative flow.
Just to be transparent, I do feel like my negative experiences with the POVs of the book are exacerbated by the fact that I’ve never really been a fan of multiple POVs in books anyway (especially when it involves romance). So for this specific comment take it with a grain of salt, it may vary between readers.
In terms of the romance, I think it’s decent. It was well paced and the interactions are realistic. But for me, the toggling between POVs slightly undercuts the allure of the romantic tension. I think that’s also one of the reasons why the chemistry wasn’t as strong as I would have wanted, even though it was never bad to read either.
For our heroine, I really liked Jane Walker! As an underdog main character, Jane embodies the trope of overcoming adversity and emerging stronger. Her journey from vulnerability to resilience adds depth to the narrative, a progression I loved as a reader who appreciates the underdog storyline. The unique aspect of Jane’s birthmark, an intrinsic part of her character, adds an intriguing layer to her identity, a familiar yet enticing trope that resonates within the urban fantasy genre.
Overall despite the noted POV challenges, I find this urban fantasy paranormal book to be a worthwhile read, particularly for those well-acquainted with their reading preferences and who appreciate the brisk cadence of dual POVs.
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About the Author of Blood Mark
JP (Jo-Anne) McLean is a bestselling author of urban fantasy and supernatural thrillers. She is a 2021 finalist for the Chanticleer Paranormal Award for Supernatural Fiction, and the Wishing Shelf Book award for Adult Fiction. Her work has won a Readers’ Favorite Award, a Gold Literary Titan medal, and honourable mentions from the Whistler Independent Book Awards and the Victoria Writers’ Society. Reviewers call her work addictive, smart, and fun.
JP holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, is a certified scuba diver, an avid gardener, and a voracious reader. She had a successful career in Human Resources before turning her attention to writing.
Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP has lived in various parts of North America, from Mexico and Arizona to Alberta and Ontario. JP now lives with her husband on Denman Island, which is nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. You can reach her through her website at jpmcleanauthor.com.