1) Infiltrate rival vampire cult and assassinate leader
2) Get rid of demon houseguest
3) Ditch the hot mage stalker
4) Betray family
Sabina is the illegitimate granddaughter of Lavinia, one of the Dominae who rule over all vampires. In violation of the treaty between the Dominae and the Hekate Council, rulers of mages, her mother had a love affair with a mage and Sabina was the result. Due to her mixed blood she isn't accepted among her own kind, and she has been told from birth that her father's family wanted nothing to do with her. Unaccepted in either world, the only occupation she can have is assassin for the Dominae, which she performs loyally in hopes of someday gaining some measure of respect from her grandmother. When she's sent to infiltrate a rival vampiric organization, she becomes embroiled in supernatural politics, gets in touch with her mage half, and learns that very little she was taught is actually true.
The series consists of five novels and two novellas:
- Red-Headed Stepchild (novel, 2009)
- The Mage in Black (novel, 2010)
- Green-Eyed Demon (novel, 2011)
- Violet Tendencies (novella, 2011)
- Silver-Tongued Devil (novel, 2012)
- Blue-Blooded Vamp (novel, 2012)
- Rusted Veins (novella, 2013)
This novel series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Baleful Polymorph: While trying to banish Giguhl, the at-this-point untrained-in-magic Sabina accidentally traps the demon in the form of a hairless cat.
- Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Sabina on the cover of Red-Headed Stepchild (shown).
- Chekhov's Gun: In Red-Headed Stepchild Adam Lazarus summons Giguhl to test whether Sabina is really the long-lost twin sister of the leader of the Hekate Council by having the demon attack her with an apple wood stake. She survives being staked because she's half-mage. It saves her life in the book's final battle when Lavinia tries to kill her.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Sabina's handgun is loaded with bullets containing apple cider to kill vampires. Meanwhile Vinca has a can of pepper spray loaded with cider instead.
- The Descendants of Cain: The vampires believe that they are descended from a love affair between Cain and Lilith. All vampires are redheads, which is a relic of the Mark of Cain.
- Dhampyr: Sabina is half-vampire, half-mage, as marked by her streaky red-and-black hair. So is her twin sister. Clovis, meanwhile, is half-demon, and redheaded humans are Uneven Hybrids with a vampiric ancestor.
- Eating the Eye Candy: Discussed. In the first book Vinca is observed watching one of The Lord of the Rings films and acts a little embarrassed to be watching a "silly mortal movie". Sabina tells her not to be embarrassed: "That elf is hot."
- Exotic Equipment: In his true form, Giguhl the demon has a forked member.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Vampires are said to descend from a mating between the biblical Cain and Lilith, Adam's first wife in Hebrew Mythology, and are vulnerable to apples due to their indirect connection to the Original Sin. The mages descend from the Greek goddess Hekate. Demons and various types of fey also exist.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With the exception of book two, Color-Adjective Noun for the full-length novels.
- Intimate Marks: The mages all have a birthmark of an eight-pointed star, a symbol of the goddess Hekate, somewhere on their bodies. At one point in Red-Headed Stepchild Sabina accidentally walks in on mage Adam Lazarus as he's getting out of the shower and discovers that his is between his belly button and his groin. For her part, Sabina's is on her left shoulderblade.
- Kiss of the Vampire: Scenes involving vampires feeding on other vampires have very strong BDSM overtones, with being fed on described by Sabina as being the ultimate submissive act. Clovis even once refers to having "vein-fucked" her.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are immortal, reproduce sexually rather than by biting humans, and they all have red hair that darkens as they age. (Humans with red hair have a trace of vampire blood.) They also spontaneously combust when attacked with apples and apple wood.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Played with. While vampires can mainly only be killed permanently with apples or apple wood, that's not to say they can't be hurt in other ways. For instance, Sabina demonstrates a few times that young vampires can be incapacitated via a Neck Snap.
- Pants-Positive Safety: Sabina typically carries her sidearm stuck through her belt (though in back rather than on the side as shown in the page picture).
- Politically Incorrect Villain: When Sabina takes one of Clovis' men hostage, he tells her to go ahead and kill him because he deserves it for getting beaten by a girl.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Adam Lazarus explains to Sabina that use of magic inherently disturbs the natural order, and even small castings have unforeseeable effects elsewhere in the world (usually imperceptible effects, but it has an effect). Large castings have been known to cause natural disasters.
- Separated at Birth: Sabina and her identical twin sister Maisie. The Dominae got Sabina, the mages got Maisie, and Sabina was never told Maisie existed.
- Spiked Blood: If a vampire feeds on a drug addict, they can wind up addicted to the same substance due to experiencing the effects of the drug in the persons blood in question. Potheads are apparently "a fun snack" though.
- Title Drop: Sabina uses the title of Red-Headed Stepchild in its idiomatic form once in her narration.
- Uneven Hybrid: Humans with red hair have a trace of vampire blood.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Sabina's sole motivation for most of her life has been to earn at least the respect of her grandmother Lavinia, the ruler of all vampires and her only living family member. By the end of Red-Headed Stepchild, she's determined that not only does her grandmother not give half a hump whether she lives or dies, but that the Dominae in general is not worthy of her devotion.
- What Measure Is a Non-Super?: Ordinary humans aren't given much thought in this series, mainly serving as food for vampires.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: A few times Sabina has mentioned going hunting in bad parts of town and draining muggers and at least one attempted rapist.
- Your Vampires Suck: Apparently the vampires themselves spread the idea that they're vulnerable to crucifixesnote and garlicnote .