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Alyxandra Harvey

The Drake Chronicles (book 3)

Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1-4088-0706-4

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Out For Blood is the third in the Drake Chronicles. Volumes one (My Love Lies Bleeding) and two (Blood Feud) have both been reviewed here.  Although there is an overarching story to the series, each volume focuses on a different Drake sibling’s romance.

In this instance, the focus is Quinn Drake. He’s the fourth Drake son, twin to Connor. And like all six of his brothers, and his sister, he became a vampire when he turned 16. In the earlier novels, his mother Helena kind of accidentally became the vampire queen while protecting her only daughter, Solange, from assassins. At least some of the assassins promptly turned their attention to Helena, and one of the early events in Out for Blood is the resulting low key and semi-secret coronation ceremony. It’s at this ceremony that Quinn first lays eyes on Hunter Wild.

Hunter is the latest in a long line of vampire hunters and doing very well at the Helios-Ra Academy – essentially, a high school for vampire slayers. She’s open to the recent truces that have been developed between some vampires and the Helios-Ra, but the grandfather who raised her believes that the only good vampire is a staked vampire. Which is going to prove inconvenient when Quinn seems irresistible to Hunter.

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Nalini Singh

A Psy-Changeling novel

Gollancz

ISBN: 978-0-5750-9566-3

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, an alpha male pack leader dominated by emotion but tempered by power. Sascha Duncan is a cardinal Psy, a woman with enormous Psy potential but hiding her fracturing nature in a world that does not permit her to show her feelings in any way. Thrown together in a business deal at a crucial point in Sascha’s struggle against her splintering psyche, Lucas and Sascha are drawn to each other in every way. As Sascha attempts to disguise her disintegrating emotional state, something that will get her “rehabilitated” by her race were she to be discovered, Lucas seeks to discover the Psy serial killer stalking his people, and both will find a great deal more than either could anticipate.

Having read and quite enjoyed Singh’s later Guild Hunter series this year, I had high expectations of this, the first book of her Psy-Changeling series. However, I had also thought I was slightly glutted on the paranormal romance genre and had put off reading this for some months. I’m glad I finally picked it up!

Singh’s world building is perhaps one of the best things about her writing – she makes the paranormal seem normal while still being fascinating, and it is always completely central to the plot and characterisation. The female protagonist, Sascha, is particularly interesting – she’s strong while being seemingly flawed, and the way Singh draws this out is engaging and powerful. I was fascinated by the relationships, the characters and the world itself, and can’t wait to read the next book. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of Patricia Briggs – Singh has a similar depth of storytelling and characterisation and has created a fascinating world in this series.

Mia James

Gollancz

ISBN: 978-0-575-09553-3

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

By Midnight
is yet another entry in the “teenage vampire” canon, which must surely now almost be large enough to be called a genre in itself. Fortunately, this particular novel is one of the more superior entries, and if some of its’ influences show pretty clearly, at least they’re more Buffy than Twilight (for a change).

April Dunne is less than happy about her forced move to Highgate in London. She’s spent her teenage years to date in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her father was an investigative reporter. Now he’s lost his job, and the only one he could find was back in London. He and her mother won’t let April stay in Edinburgh and stay with a friend while finishing school; so she’s been dragged down to Highgate, and forced to start again at Ravenwood. Ravenwood is the school of her nightmares; it’s for kids who are very very bright – or very very rich. And April isn’t either. April just knows she’ll struggle to fit in.

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Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods series

Atom (2010)

Blue Bloods, Book 1

ISBN: 9781905654741

Masquerade, Book 2

ISBN: 9781905654772

Revelations, Book 3

ISBN: 9781905654789

The Van Alen Legacy, Book 4

ISBN: 9781905654796

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

In Melissa de la Cruz’s world, vampires are the “Blue Bloods” of high society. Reincarnated by a blood creation process, only 400 vampires exist, not always at the same time, and they are part of a complex Heaven and fallen angels scenario from millennia past. Two are even archangels, who descended by choice to watch over those who fell. Cruz has at the heart of her story the young Blue Bloods of this generation, who are maturing, recovering their memories of previous lives, and re-discovering their powers. Mimi and Jack Force, rich, gorgeous and powerful, are two of the next generation Blue Bloods, but there are others, and some of them, like Schuyler Van Alen, are different to those who came before.

Blue Bloods, the first book of the series, introduces us to a world of the super rich elite, peopled by vampires who call themselves Blue Bloods. While these vampires do require human (Red Blood) blood, they generally don’t terrorise or kill them, living hidden in plain sight as the rich and famous of their world. Schuyler Van Alen is part of this world, but feels isolated from it – her family’s fortunes have waned over the decades, which means while Schuyler is still schooled at the elite Duchesne school, she doesn’t command the respect of her wealthier peers and doesn’t try to fit in. When a student is killed however, Schuyler finds out she is more a part of the elite crowd than she could ever have imagined. With an unknown threat to all the young vampires, Schuyler finds herself at the heart of the hunt for the murderer, and on the front line of danger.

This first book sets up a somewhat different vampire scenario. The vaguely defined incarnation process is fairly mystical and while it makes sense in terms of how Cruz discusses it, the actual mechanics are pretty hazy, and Cruz often strays from her premise in terms of characterisation, which can be frustrating. And while this premise is distinct from the usual angsty teen vamp fare, the set up for the series itself is not unique – the Vampire Beach series by Alex Duval is a very similar set up, with vampires that exist as the top echelon of society, who quite happily live in the sun and who co-exist relatively peacefully with humans. Read the rest of this entry »

Carrie Jones

Bloomsbury (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-0740-8

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Zara White’s stepfather died in front of her, and she isn’t coping very well. In desperation, her mother sends Zara to her (step)grandmother in Maine, with the hopes the change of scenery will help. But strange things are happening in Bedford and a weird man is stalking her – is he connected to her dad’s death? What does he want from Zara, and who among her new friends is actually on her side?

Another addition to the ever-growing pantheon of young adult paranormal romance novels, Jones takes pixies and shapeshifters and brings them into the “real” world, but not always in a traditional manner. She has written pixies in a way I’ve not come across and although she has made them somewhat vampiric in nature (combined with some conventional fairy-style lore), this has created an unusual and engaging story.

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Claudia Gray

An Evernight novel

HarperCollins (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-7322-8969-0

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

After the destruction of Evernight Academy, born-vampire Bianca has taken refuge with boyfriend Lucas and the Black Cross. But Bianca’s nature is becoming harder to ignore, and when the vampire hunters find out her secret, nowhere is safe. Pursued by vampires on one side and hounded by Black Cross on the other, Bianca and Lucas try to live a semi-normal life together, until Charity, insane and obsessed, uncovers them. Nowhere is safe, and suddenly Bianca’s unusual physiology is causing even more problems. Can she and Lucas ever be together?

I missed book two of this series, but managed to pick up the missing pieces fairly easily. I remember loving Evernight, particularly for the very clever setup of the story; however, while the author is still trying to keep the story entertaining in Hourglass, with world-building that sets it apart from most of the other teen paranormals, for me, it dragged a little. Gray seemed to be trying too hard to cram a whole heap of action into the story, which felt forced – I would have preferred a little less stuff happening for a cleaner, more committed story.

This series is an entertaining read, and is one of the better additions to the genre, but I hope the author tightens up her storytelling in the next instalment.

Carrie Jones

Bloomsbury

ISBN: 978-1-4088-0741-5

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Captivate is the second in a series (Need was the first), and as the story ends on a cliffhanger, there will certainly be at least one more in the series. This is a novel which is difficult to read if you haven’t read the first one – although the story makes sense, there are other aspects of the novel that don’t work well without the initial introductions. Most notably, the characters and their relationships struggle to ring true or to fully engage the reader.

In book one, Zara and her friends captured the evil pixies – including Zara’s father – and trapped them in a house deep in the woods, ringed about by iron and magic.  But they continue to see more and more pixies, and soon a new Pixie King arrives, planning to claim the territory previously ruled by Zara’s father. Is he telling the truth when he says not all pixies are evil?  Are the teenagers doing the right thing by keeping sentient creatures prisoner?  What will happen if the pixies ever get free?  And Zara lives with the constant fear that she, half pixie, will go pixie and become evil. Could anything ever convince her to agree to the change? Well, maybe. If something threatens Nick, who she loves madly, or her family, or her friends. Then she’d at least think about it.

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Alyxandra Harvey

Drake Chronicles, Book 2

Bloomsbury (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-0705-7

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Blood Feud is the second volume of the Drake Chronicles. Since the Drakes are a large family – seven boys and one girl in the immediate family alone – and each of the two volumes so far have focused on a different Drake, it’s entirely possible that this could be an extended series. That’s not a bad thing; these are good novels likely to be enjoyed by their young adult target audience. This second novel, however, may be a little less attractive to an older audience than the first one, My Love Lies Bleeding, was.

As the novel opens, Logan Drake’s mother Helena has become a vampire Queen. She didn’t particularly want the job, but it sort of happened in the course of saving her daughter Solange (the full story is detailed in My Love Lies Bleeding). Not everyone wanted her to get the job either, and an assassination attempt occurs early in the preparations for her coronation. Many dignitaries are coming to the coronation. One is Isabeau St Croix, there to represent the Hounds, a reclusive vampire tribe. Isabeau survived the French revolution only to be turned into a vampire, and left in her grave for 200 years until rescued by the Hounds. Now she is one of their Princesses, and sent to Court to negotiate an alliance with the new Queen.

Within moments of arrival Isabeau finds herself negotiating a very informal alliance with Logan Drake. The two of them are instantly and strongly drawn to each other. And it seems that at least one of those with an eye to executing the new Queen is the vampire who turned Isabeau, someone she’d dearly like to meet in a dark alley. So Logan and Isabeau team up to gain revenge and protect their loved ones.

As with the first novel in the series, this is well written. Harvey has thought through the background to her vampires, and added an original twist (that some vampires can be born, due to specific genetic traits, but the children don’t become vampires proper until they reach puberty). Her prose is simple and enjoyable, and she has a good eye for writing action scenes. She also touches on events in the earlier novel without going over them in any detail; new readers won’t be confused and returning readers won’t be bored.

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Nalini Singh

Book 2, Guild Hunter Series

Gollancz (2010)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09474

Reviewed by Mitenae

Elena has been awake for three days after spending a year in a coma and is still getting used to the idea she has wings. Raphael is having to get used to the fact – whether he likes it or not – that she is not his toy, plaything or possession. True love doesn’t work that way.

Elena has two months to learn how to use her wings, for Lijiuan is holding a ball and Raphael won’t have them being seen as weak. Only they stumble across a mangled but still alive vampire with a branded chest. And the only way to identify him is by the ring he won from Illium in a poker game.

An angel is challenging and whoever it is, is willing to pit one archangel against another to gain it.

Nalini Singh has managed to not only continue a good series, but to make it even better than the first novel. The world is great, the writing fantastic and the characters are nicely balanced between strong and feminine.

This book is not just for those into paranormal romance, but also for those who have shied away from it and the many clichéd novels currently about. Nalini Singh is proving to be a writer capable of breathing life into, for me at least, a predictable sub-genre.

Nalini Singh

Book 1, Guild Hunter Series

Gollancz (2009)

ISBN: 978-0- 575-09572

Reviewed by Mitenae

Archangel Raphael wants the best, even if the mere mention of his wanting her for a job scares the shit out of Elena Devereax, the best guild hunter there is. Upon meeting him, Elena is forced to walk a fine line between not being manipulated and not being killed by Raphael for her defiance.

Elena learns that she is to track not a vampire nor a human and not even an angel, but an archangel. Raphael won’t tell her why nor will he allow her to tell anyone else about the job. Not even when he begins to fall for her and it threatens to make him mortal.

Nalini Singh is on of those rare writers who is able to take what is the current fad and twist it just that little bit, not only making it her own, but making her work a clear standout above everything else.

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