A hearty, riveting vampire tale with a wonderfully motley cast.

TWIN TORN

An amnesiac tries to stop a powerful vampire from performing a world-ending ceremony in this debut fantasy/thriller.

A year ago, Ash suddenly found himself on Ellis Island, unable to remember anything, including his real name. Now, all he knows is that he has an uncontrollable thirst for blood and has been killing someone on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, militarized vampires leave their realm of Pandoria for New York via a portal. They’re on a reconnaissance mission for Queen Chanovalle Remseldorne, but their objective quickly changes when the slave Kayala escapes captivity with help from Ash. The vampires fear the queen’s retaliation because Kayala is her “pet.” This unfortunately results in the vampires’ abduction of high school sophomore Inalia Edwards. The crime is accidental: She’s a dead ringer for Kayala. The vampires outfit Inalia with a collar and leash and take her to their realm as the queen’s personal slave. Later, seeing a missing person report, Kayala surmises Inalia is her twin and decides to rescue her. She and Ash travel to Pandoria only to learn that Inalia is an unwitting participant in a ritual, part of an apparent prophecy that will cause Armageddon. Vibrant characters populate Rogers’ swiftly paced tale. Kayala, for example, evidently kills certain troublesome Pandoria citizens. And the cast of characters even includes a werewolf and a dragon. This cross-genre narrative is dark but entertaining, comprising action sequences, fantastic elements, and vampires’ blood-drenched homicides. There are also abundant backstories to explain Ash’s lost memory and the queen’s power-hungry scheme, which she keeps largely to herself. These elucidating scenes never slow down the book’s momentum, though some intriguing characters, like the werewolf, get considerably less of the spotlight. Nonetheless, the author has plenty of rich material to expand this novel into a series.

A hearty, riveting vampire tale with a wonderfully motley cast. (author bio)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73571-610-7

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Venerated Sage

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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

MIDNIGHT SUN

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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A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic.

LORE

To get revenge for her family’s murder seven years ago, Lore must reenter a deadly contest from her past.

Leaving the conflict of gods and their hunters behind, Lore thought she had forged a new life. However, the Agon has begun again and brought with it an injured Athena, who promises her revenge on the one who ordered her family killed—in exchange for an oath binding their fates together. Lore must hunt down the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, with the catch that she only has eight days. Also, failure means the deaths of both Lore and Athena. Depictions of graphic violence and discussions of sexual assault are frequent, creating a tale as violent and unforgiving as its source material, albeit narrated through a feminist lens. Much like the heroes of ancient epics, Lore is a morally ambiguous but ultimately likable character, struggling to eliminate the monsters of her world while not falling into the brutality of her youth. She is contrasted with the idealistic Castor, her childhood friend and love interest, with whom she has plenty of chemistry. Bracken builds a rich world around a skeleton of ancient Greek mythology that is perfect to read on a dull weekend and sure to delight readers. Most main characters are cued as White; there are two men of color, both gay.

A gripping revenge story with enough twists to avoid becoming formulaic. (cast of characters) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7820-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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