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Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports Series #2)

Hellbent (Cheshire Red Reports Series #2)

4.1 21
by Cherie Priest, Natalie Ross (Performed by)

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Vampire thief Raylene Pendle doesn’t need more complications in her life. Her Seattle home is already overrun by a band of misfits, including Ian Stott, a blind vampire, and Adrian deJesus, an ex-Navy SEAL/drag queen. But Raylene still can’t resist an old pal’s request: seek out and steal a bizarre set of


Vampire thief Raylene Pendle doesn’t need more complications in her life. Her Seattle home is already overrun by a band of misfits, including Ian Stott, a blind vampire, and Adrian deJesus, an ex-Navy SEAL/drag queen. But Raylene still can’t resist an old pal’s request: seek out and steal a bizarre set of artifacts. Also on the hunt is a brilliant but certifiably crazy sorceress determined to stomp anyone who gets in her way. But Raylene’s biggest problem is that the death of Ian’s vaunted patriarch appears to have made him the next target of some blood-sucking sociopaths.  Now Raylene must snatch up the potent relics, solve a murder, and keep Ian safe—all while fending off a psychotic sorceress. But at least she won’t be alone. A girl could do a lot worse for a partner than an ass-kicking drag queen—right?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Cherie Priest’s Bloodshot
“Witty, fast-paced, and fabulous . . . a vastly entertaining read!”—Jeaniene Frost, New York Times bestselling author
“Catapults the kick-ass urban fantasy heroine into the realm of the truly bad-ass.”—Nicole Peeler, author of Tempest's Legacy
“Refreshing and addictive.”—Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
When an urban fantasy features a "vampire superthief" and an "ex-navy SEAL and fabulous drag queen" among its lead characters, it can either be a delightful guilty pleasure or a disaster. In Priest's second Raylene Pendle book (after Bloodshot), the author brings an enjoyable noirish humor to this booming genre. Our undead protagonist boldly breaks down the fourth wall to bring new readers up-to-date (although being reminded that she's just a character in a book may take some readers out of the narrative). In her new outing, Raylene has been hired to retrieve a magical artificat also desired by a powerful witch who will stop at nothing to get it. At the same time, someone is trying to kill Ian, Raylene's blind vampire friend. VERDICT Raylene and her gang of misfits will draw in urban fantasy fans of all stripes as well as fans of Priest's other fantasies. Some language, used to show character traits, is a bit strong and might turn off gentler readers. However, the humor and adventure more than compensate for this minor negative.—Stacey Rottiers Comfort, Dexter Dist. Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews

Without pause for thought, Priest plunges into a sequel (Bloodshot,2011, etc.) featuring Seattle vampire thief Raylene Pendle that aims toward comedy and strikes flab.

Raylene, who steals things to order and lives in a warehouse along with her lodgers, street urchins Domino and Pepper and blind vampire Ian Stott, has a new commission from shady auctioneer Horace Bishop: to steal a box of bacula (penis-bones, ha-ha) derived from such legendary creatures as unicorns, gryphons and werewolves. Said bones, thanks to their enormous magic power, are extremely valuable. However, once she arrives at the indicated location, the bones have departed, likewise their former owner's existence, and his shack is about to be blown to shreds by mega-powerful lightning bolts. Back at home, another problem has emerged. Ian's father has mysteriously died in an Atlanta vampire house, and his brother Max in San Francisco is demanding his presence—since, Raylene suspects, Max secretly wants to bump Ian off and rule the roost. Then Horace calls with an update: The bones' new owner is Elizabeth Creed, a schizophrenic genius ex-NASA astrophysicist and now, evidently, a witch. Pausing only to drag her sidekick, ex–Navy SEAL and drag queen Adrian deJesus, along, Raylene decides to tackle both cases at once. Neither proves particularly sensible, consequential or mettlesome. Along the way, we learn far more about Raylene's OCD and other insecurities than we need to. Pages of dreary banter limp past.

Is Raylene going soft? Well, she's more human and far less distinctive. Unasked, we also get fangs and bats, if not yet any capes or hissing.

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Cheshire Red Reports Series , #2
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.37(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)

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Read an Excerpt


It sounded like a good idea at the time, which is probably going to be on my tombstone—along with a catty footnote about poor impulse control. But when Horace Bishop called me, practically breathless with delight and greed, telling me he was in Portland so we should get together and have a drink or something, I said okay, even though I probably should've said "I'd sooner wear plaid."

I don't wear plaid. Ever.

I don't wear orange, either—not that there's anything inherently wrong with it. Really, it's more of a coloring thing. I'm a solid winter—blue-black hair and so fair I'm practically translucent; it comes with being undead. Orange always makes me look like I'm having liver problems, so I skip it—just like deep down I suspected I ought to skip that date with Horace, but what was I going to do? He already knew where I lived (roughly), and he already knew my price scale (more or less), and he was practically my agent. Or my pimp.

Anyway, Horace was vibrating—talking so fast I could hardly understand him. And what was he doing on the West Coast? He promised to tell me in person, and since he was flying back to New York from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, it wasn't terribly far out of his way to bounce into town for a conspiratorial adult beverage.

I waited for him at a bar on Capitol Hill. I don't live in that neighborhood anymore, but that's the point. He knows I live in Seattle, but the less specific his knowledge is, the happier I am. The truth is, I kind of trust him. I mean, if I were wounded and bloody and practically dying in New York City and I had no place else to go, I could probably fling myself onto his couch and generally assume that he wouldn't stake me in my sleep. After all, I've earned him a metric assload of money over the years. And money has to mean something, doesn't it?

Yes, I totally laughed a little, just now.

I know good and well he might sell me out for the next best offer that presented itself, but I'd like to think he'd hesitate. Just for a second or two, if for no other reason than the fact that I'm very, very good at my job—and that I'm excessively vindictive. Even if he could reliably replace me, he couldn't assume I wouldn't track him down later and peel his toenails off.

Maybe I'd better give you some context for this contentious relationship, before you start thinking I'm completely unhinged for hanging out with this asshole.

Horace is a director of acquisitions for a prominent NYC auction house that will go unnamed here, for the sake of discretion. Basically, it's his job to scout for expensive objects for museums, private collectors, and other assorted people and institutions with more money than common sense. He deals in everything from paintings to gemstones, archaeological finds to vintage paperwork. And sometimes, his clients want a piece that is not, shall we say, strictly for sale. But for the right price, Horace will find it anyway, and he'll acquire it, and he'll pass it along. Usually, this process requires me—somewhere right in the middle, doing all the dirty work and collecting a hefty finder's fee.

So you can see where I get off calling him my agent. Or pimp.

I'm a thief, though I shine it up with an assortment of euphemisms. I'm in antiquities acquisitions. I'm a collection consultant. I'm in the security analysis business. But the bottom line is that I freelance, and if you have to ask how much I charge, you can't afford me.

Horace can afford me, and he pays up front in cash—or after the job, depending on the circumstances. He's one of the only people on earth who gets away with paying me on delivery. We've built up some trust on that front, at least. It's a sacred deal between us: I always produce, and he always pays. We have yet to let each other down, and I know of few married couples who could say the same. So you see, it's not like we hate each other. It's like . . . our love is very specific. And limited. And confrontational.

Even so, I'll confess to feeling a tiny thrill of novelty at the prospect of setting eyes on him again. It'd been several years since we'd been in the same room, due to nothing more enormous than the physical distance between us—though it also serves to keep both of our asses covered from a plausible deniability standpoint. If something ever happens and he's caught, or (God forbid) I'm caught, there's virtually no physical evidence to tie us to one another.

This imparted a slightly illicit feel to the meeting.

And anyway, hell. He'd be more normal company than I'd been enjoying for the previous few months. If you're familiar with my previous adventure, then you already know some of my story. But in case you aren't, here are the CliffsNotes.

One: I'm a vampire. In the words of the immortal Bauhaus (you see what I did there?) "Undead undead undead." I don't turn into anything cool (or anything uncool either, for that matter), I don't fly, and I don't have a funny accent. I do drink blood, move really fast, look really pale, and have permanently dilated pupils—which makes me look a little like one of those creepy paintings of big-eyed kids from the seventies.

Two: I'm often mistaken for a man. Not because I'm particularly dude-like, but because international intelligence officials find it difficult to believe that a thief as accomplished and sneaky as yours truly could possibly be a woman. Far be it from me to remove any heads from asses on this point.

Three: I live in downtown Seattle, in the old quarter called Pioneer Square. Which is a fancy way of saying I live in the decrepit industrial ghetto, except that's not really fair. It's the kind of place where you can go a couple of blocks in any direction and land in a different neighborhood entirely—a tourist district waning out near Elliott Bay, the old merchant and fishing district on the port end of the coastline, or of course the blocks of decaying warehouses and factories that haven't seen any action since the Depression.

Four: I used to have a warehouse in this same quarter where I stashed all my orphaned goodies, collected over the years. It got raided by the feds. So I abandoned it and bought another one, about six blocks away because I'm a creature of habit. This new base of operations is much nicer than the old one; I renovated it from top to bottom before giving up on my condo (which was also raided—long story, see previous adventure) and moving into one of the top-floor lofts.

Five: The other two top-floor lofts are occupied by other people. On one corner I have Pepper and Domino, last name unimportant since I don't think they've ever told me what it is. Domino is a fourteen-year-old jackass who drives me up a goddamn wall, but his little sister Pepper is about eight years old and as cute as a bunny in a sweater. They're sort of my pet people. This is to say, they squatted at my other warehouse so long, I eventually figured out that I'd inadvertently adopted them. At the other corner of the floor lives Ian Stott, who serves as a buffer between me and the kids. He's a vampire, too, and he's blind. He's also preposterously good looking, and we have a very awkward but not entirely unpleasant relationship. We're friends who make out every now and again. And now he lives with me.

I didn't plan this family-style arrangement. I didn't even want it, but things just happened this way and then I didn't know what to do, so I ran with it. I fear change. But it turns out that I'm not quite as good at saying no as I've always considered myself to be.

Besides, Ian used to have a ghoul who helped him find his way around—I jokingly referred to him as the "Seeing Eye ghoul"—but then he got killed, and it wasn't really my fault but I still felt responsible. Despite being blind, Ian's a total badass in his own right, as I learned the scary way. But he still needs help buying clothes, writing checks, and locating stuff.

Sometimes I pawn him off on Domino and Pepper. Domino doesn't much mind it—and Christ knows the little shithead needs to learn some responsibility before it's too damn late—but Pepper took to it like a duck to water. She loves feeling useful, and she loves helping Ian go through his clothes, sort his socks, and learn his way along the stinking, damp alleyways that make up most of our neighborhood map.

Then, of course, there's the fabulous number six thing you ought to know about: The only other member of my circle is either a first-rate ex-Navy SEAL named Adrian deJesus or a divine drag queen called Sister Rose, depending on the wardrobe and the wig.

Oh yeah. Thing number seven: I digress. A lot.

So those are the only people I see on a regular basis, and they are fairly new additions to my life, so I'm still getting used to all the socializing.

Horace Bishop, on the other hand, I've known for over a decade.

And believe it or not, he's more ordinary than all those yahoos I just listed above. I think. But like I already confessed, it's been a while since we've had a chance to sit down for a face-to-face.

I checked my watch.

He wasn't late, but also wasn't as early as I would've preferred. This is unfair, I realize. Just because I'm a crazy person who has to be twenty minutes early for everything doesn't mean other people must live by the same standard. But knowing this didn't stop me from glancing down at my watch again, then reaching for my cell phone to make sure that my watch wasn't wrong, because sometimes it is, okay?

But the watch wasn't wrong. Not according to my phone.

The bar was starting to fill up with the usual Cap Hill mix of gays in couples and strays, twenty-something hipsters, and homeless people who hadn't yet been pegged as such and asked to leave. When the lone waitress gave me a look that told me to place an order or get out, I asked for a cup of water I wasn't going to drink and a glass of red wine that I planned to down.

I didn't like the pressing nearness of all the people, and if I'd had any idea the joint would be so very hopping, I would've certainly picked someplace else—even though I'd originally chosen it precisely because I suspected Horace would hate it. Call me antagonistic, but his natural habitat is more "minimalist, with a splash of snobbery" than "Pacific Northwest logger wannabes and their strung-out beards." By "beards," of course, I mean their fake girlfriends. And also their Castro fanboy face-lawns.

But given my druthers (and what precisely does that mean, anyway? I've always wondered) I would've liked something equally lowbrow and gauche, but less densely populated.

Too late to change my mind.

And just when I was thinking the little scumbag was going to be late, purely to torture me—as if I ever did anything to him—the door opened with a digital chime that almost no one else heard over the shouted orders for beer or fruity drinks and the busker somebody'd ill-advisedly brought indoors and given a microphone.

I heard the chime. I craned my neck to look around the ass of the single serving girl, and there he was. All five-foot-six of him, impeccably dressed in a pin-striped Brooks Brothers suit and a pink tie, because yes, he is that secure in his masculinity.

For a long time I thought he was gay. Then gradually, over the years, I realized that he's not attracted to anything on earth except money. And maybe himself.

He saw me and his freshly threaded eyebrows lifted in a chola arch of . . . something. It wasn't surprise, obviously. And it probably wasn't delight, though it might've been amusement, or maybe curiosity. I haven't changed any since last he saw me. For that matter, I haven't changed since 1921.

The waitress slapped a glass of wine on a cocktail napkin directly under my chin, then vanished. I picked it up and lifted it in a half-assed toast in Horace's direction. He gave a weird half bow and a wave back, then grimaced as he realized the crowd he was going to have to wade through in order to join me. He immediately assumed the position of a tightrope walker shimmying above a pit of alligators and began to squeeze his way across the room, doing everything short of removing a hankie from a pocket to cover his mouth and nose—mostly, I suspect, because he didn't have a hankie.

With a laser frown and a flip of his double-jointed wrist, he whipped out the unoccupied chair across from me and said, "Honestly?" as if I'd just told him I'd bought a pair of pasties and planned to take up table dancing.

I smiled at him despite myself and said, "I swear to God, if I'd known about the busker, I would've picked someplace else." Which was perfectly true. I'm petty, but I have my limits.

"So you say," he accused, snapping his fingers and—like magic—summoning the waitress, whom I probably couldn't have flagged down again with a boomerang. He put in an order for a Manhattan, neat, and took a deep breath . . . then appeared to think better of it. He exhaled swiftly and, with a shake that might've been a shudder, he said, "Ray-baby!"

"Don't call me that," I told him, but not with any weight behind it. I don't really mind, usually. I especially don't mind when I can barely hear it. The busker was leaning on the lyrics of "Yellow" like each word was a hook he was pulling out of his eye. "And it's good to see you, you irascible bastard."

"Back at you, princess," he said with a grin, which squinched at the busker's manhandling of the chorus. "But really. Here?"

I shrugged, like this was no big deal. "Well, you said you wanted to talk business, and it really doesn't get much more private than a dump like this, now does it?"

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Hellbent 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cari-Bella More than 1 year ago
I read Hellbent while I was at the AP English Literature Reading in Louisville, KY. For 9 days, I spent 8am - 5pm reading essay question 3 of the AP Lit test. One would think that I wouldn't want to read anything after reading essays all day, but I did. This is my first book by Priest to read and I think I will read more. I didn't love Hellbent, but it was entertaining enough for me to keep reading. The protagonist, Raylene, is smart, witty, sassy, and scarred. Since I didn't read the first book in this series, I missed some of her back story. That didn't stop me from understanding and enjoying this book, though. I enjoyed the action scenes and many of the scenes with Raylene and the cast of characters she meets in her adventures. I didn't quite understand what motivated Raylene in a few of the scenes, and that did frustrate me a bit. She seemed closed off and wary in the opening scenes of the novel, but then she invites a relative stranger to live with her in her secret home. While she does have a history of taking in a few "strays," I didn't exactly see why she took in this latest guest. I see why Priest included it as a plot device, but I didn't buy that Raylene would do that. Maybe if I had read the first book in the series, I would be more understanding. Priest includes several conflicts to keep the plot moving and most of them were fun adventures. The one constant conflict involves penis bones. Yep, penis bones. When I first read that, I snorted out loud in the essay reading room. People around me frowned at me. But, how can you not snort at a book that includes penis bones? Obviously, these are not human penis bones. They are the bones of other mystical creatures - werewolves and the like. These bones help magnify the magical power of the user. Odd, but I went with it. At the very least, it was original. I haven't read other books about magical penis bones. (As a side note, when I was in graduate school, I often dreamed about the lofty literature I would read and discuss. Never did I ever think I'd be writing about a book that has penis bones as a central plot element. Kind of fun, isn't it?) Most of the conflicts were resolved satisfactorily. The ending of the novel clearly sets up the next installment in the series. I may go back to read the first book in the series, Bloodshot, but I'm not in a hurry. 2 1/2 stars out of 5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
7hir7een More than 1 year ago
Hellbent is another fun, witty joyride from Cherie Priest. Raylene Pendle makes a massively entertaining vampiric narrator with sticky-fingered tendencies. If you like a good urban fantasy adventure with some different vampires than you’re used to and a healthy dose of sarcasm and humor, this is right up your alley. However, if your sense of humor doesn’t match up with Priest’s writing, you will probably want to skip this one. Pendle’s personality stays consistent through the book. If you enjoyed the first novel and its narration, then you won’t want to miss this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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JBronder More than 1 year ago
Raylene¿s little family is growing, including their problems. Ian¿s house just lost the leader, Ian father. Now Ian¿s brother Max is trying to get him to come back to the house and run it or publicly announces that he doesn¿t want the position. Unfortunately, if he shows up he will be killed because of his blindness. Then Horace calls Raylene with a job. A box of interesting artifacts that have a lot of magical powers has been discovered but Horace couldn¿t get them. When Raylene goes on the hunt, she is almost killed by a witch with the power to call lightning. The witch believes that, with the artifacts, she can undo mistakes in her past. Raylene also has Adrian to work with since she promised him that she would find his missing sister, Isabelle. When an opportunity comes up to go to Atlanta, to find out what happened to Ian¿s father, Adrien is all on board to come along and help Raylene and try to find his sister. I really like this series. For a vampire that hates to be around people, Ray is getting an odd assortment in her little family. There is a lot of action and I have to laugh as how Ray seems to be played by Adrian but goes along with it. I will admit that I was not impressed with the ending. Don¿t get me wrong, I think that was a great ending, it was just way to blunt. I felt that there should have been a little more explanation or follow up with what happens afterwards. This book was great. If you like science fiction and vampires, you would like this book. I can¿t wait to read the next one in this series. I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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mcummings More than 1 year ago
(Originally reviewed for FantasyGuide) Hellbent was my first foray into the world's of Cherie Priest. I've heard wonderful things about her steampunk series, the Clockwork Century, but of her vampire series, beginning with Bloodshot, I'd heard very little. Let me put that to rest. If you're just looking for all that glitters, this isn't the spot. Nor is Priest's take on vampires entirely horrific, though. What she is is blunt and snarky and very engaging. You can almost forget that Ray (Raylene) is a vampire, except maybe when she's rescuing a kitten that's tracked through a crime scene because its paws smell so good, what with all that fresh blood. Ray is a thief. A very, very good thief, who's hired to track down some magical artifacts and relive their current owner of them. The maniac witch that's threatening to bring down heaven and hell with them is just a complication in the plan, right? The other major plot threads of the novel center around blind Ian (another vampire) and his former House, and Adrian's (a human) search for what happened to his sister. While a lot of the historical details to these plots is left unsaid, enough context was given (and even an outright "This is what happened before" blurt) that you didn't feel lost if you hadn't read the first book. It also didn't feel like Priest overly did the recap, as most of it was up front early on, letting the story progress on its own from there. Hellbent was a splendid mix of action and comedy, and of course magic, vampires, ghouls, and some tasty, bloody kitten paws. Probably a few too many jokes about the objects Ray is hired to steal (I'd hate to be the one to reveal that spoiler), but other than that a solid, fun read.
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
This book involves Raylene's efforts to acquire rare penis bones (bacula) worth millions and her infiltration of a notorious Atlanta Vampire House in order to somehow leverage information she obtains from Atlanta to extricate her blind vampire house-mate, Ian, from his original San Francisco House. Neither story line is thematically related and neither leads to a climactic confrontation. Nonetheless, both stories are entertaining. The bacula story line provides entertaining dialogue and action featuring Raylene and her drag queen/x-navy seal friend, Adrian deJesus. Further, Raylene's attempts to acquire the bones leads to the addition of a new cast member, Elizabeth Creed, a 50ish schizophrenic astrophysicist capable of casting catastrophic magical curses with the bones. The second story line involving vampire house politics provides entertaining interactions between Raylene and Adrian, who pose as a vampire master and her human ghoul. Plus, suspenseful scenes ensue between Raylene and various vampires. Further, a new vampire is added to Raylene's household. Overall, this book was enjoyable and expanded Raylene's world; but, it's not as comprehensively entertaining as the first book. I recommend this book and series to all urban fantasy fans and all readers who enjoy fanciful noir stories of the supernatural.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Izoralee More than 1 year ago
Not to sound like a fangirl but my goodness, the ending left me eager for more of this series! I really like the voice of the narrator and the pace of the story. Both pulled me in and allowed me to enjoy the storyline while not bogging me down with tangents or dragging out the action to the last chapter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Vampire thief Raylene Pendle is hired to steal magical bones. To Raylene this is an easy job until she meets up with a certifiable witch wanting the same artifacts. The insane hag shoots lightning at her. Raylene dodges the sorcery attack. Residing with Raylene in her Seattle home is the blind vampire Ian Stott and the former Navy SEAL turned drag queen Adrian deJesus. When Ian's sire dies, unknown adversaries attack the blind vampire. Besides battling a psychopath witch over some bones and investigating the murder of Ian's sire, Raylene with Adrian at her side must keep the sightless vamp safe while also keeping the various vampire houses from ripping open the throats of her and her two housemates. The second Raylene Pendle urban fantasy noir (see Bloodshot) is a jocular thriller told mostly in the first person by the roguish protagonist, whose asides as a bloodsucking thief and discerning politically incorrect analysis of the houses vampire make for a fun tale. The fast-paced story line grips the reader who will find Pendle's peril enjoyable but also realize the overarching conspiratorial theme fails to move forward. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago