Lively feminist conceits dressed in too-familiar vampire garb.




Teenage love must overcome immortal evil in DeKelb-Rittenhouse’s (Faerie Rings: The Book of Forests, 2009) young-adult vampire novel.

Teenager Lauren Whitfield has a lot on her plate—getting good grades, working on her creative writing, and hiding her crush on her best friend, Kayla Price. Her life becomes much more complicated, and much more dangerous, when she and Kayla begin working at the too-good-to-be-true vintage clothing store Deja Nous. The amazing clothing in the store pales in comparison to the gorgeous owner, Elizabeth Valiant, and both Lauren and Kayla become enthralled with their beautiful boss. Yet just as Lauren begins to bloom as a young woman under Elizabeth’s tutelage, she and Kayla also begin to wither. The girls are constantly exhausted, plagued by bad dreams, and have trouble eating anything but rare meat. Lauren is horrified when she finally learns the cause of her ailments: Elizabeth is a centuries-old vampire, and she is grooming Lauren and Kayla to become her next immortal lovers. Lauren must find a way to free herself from Elizabeth’s thrall and thwart her intentions before it’s too late. It’s encouraging to have lesbian main characters as well as positive portrayals of bisexuality in YA fiction. The implicit and explicit feminist calls to arms and defenses of the “inconvenient” women of history and fiction are also refreshing. As a vampire tale, however, the novel does almost nothing new. Elizabeth is the lesbian vampire vixen, a stereotypical role as old as Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 novella, Carmilla, which Dekelb-Rittenhouse references in the novel. The conventional signs of a vampire attack and seduction are portrayed with almost mechanical efficiency: animal transformation, alluring characters who only appear at night, mesmerism, neck wounds, exhaustion, dreamlike visions, increased sensuality, cravings for blood and raw meat, etc. Finally, Lauren’s confrontation with Elizabeth and the conclusion itself feel rushed.

Lively feminist conceits dressed in too-familiar vampire garb.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984531844

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Tiny Satchel Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2015

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A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences.


From the Twilight series , Vol. 5

A long-awaited Twilight (2005) companion novel told from vampire Edward’s point of view.

Edward Cullen, a 104-year-old vampire (and eternal 17-year-old), finds his world turned upside down when new girl Bella Swan’s addictive scent drives a primal hunger, launching the classic story of vampire-meets-girl, vampire-wants-to-eat-girl, vampire-falls-in-love-with-girl. Edward’s broody inner monologue allows readers to follow every beat of his falling in love. The glacial pace and already familiar plot points mean that instead of surprise twists, characterization reigns. Meyer doesn’t shy away from making Edward far less sympathetic than Bella’s view of him (and his mind reading confirms that Bella’s view of him isn’t universal). Bella benefits from being seen without the curtain of self-deprecation from the original book, as Edward analyzes her every action for clues to her personality. The deeper, richer characterization of the leads comes at the expense of the secondary cast, who (with a few exceptions) alternate primarily along gender lines, between dimwitted buffoons and jealous mean girls. Once the vampiric threat from James’ storyline kicks off, vampire maneuvering and strategizing show off the interplay of the Cullens’ powers in a fresh way. After the action of the climax starts in earnest, though, it leans more into summary and monologue to get to the well-known ending. Aside from the Quileutes and the occasional background character, the cast defaults to White.

A love letter to fans who will forgive (and even revel in) its excesses and indulgences. (Paranormal romance. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-70704-6

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...


From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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