Posted by: Vanessa Barneveld | April 9, 2010

Pennsylvania,Transylvania… What’s the Diff?

The vampire craze is so not dead. Well, it may be floundering in the editorial offices according to some. Seems to me readers are still asking for more, more, more fanged fables in bookstores. They want comedic, serious vamps, sexy vamps. In Beth Fantaskey‘s (Fantastic name, huh? Bet she’s never heard that one before!) JESSICA’S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE, a YA out now, you’ll find a vampire character with plenty of light and shade.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Packwood is the adopted daughter of vegan anthropologists. The family carves out a quiet, meatless, animal-cruelty-free farm in Pennsylvania. It might be a home where birthday cakes are made of soy and unsweetened applesauce but it’s a loving home.

Sure isn’t an environment fit for a princess, as our hero, Romanian exchange student and prince, Lucius Vladescu laments.

Yep, a prince. A vampire prince. Lucius has travelled to small-town America, a place he finds both fascinating and abhorrent, to claim Jessica as his bride. It seems Jessica descends from vampire royalty herself. She’d been whisked out of Romania by the Packwoods as infant. Now, through Lucius, she learns her real name is Antanasia Dragomir and she will transform into a vampire. A pact between her ancestors and Lucius’s clearly states the two must marry to bring peace to their clans. Despite his apparent lunacy, Lucius enjoys the full support of Jessica’s parents.

At first, Jessica doesn’t want to accept her destiny. She’s crushing on a sweet jock named Jake and the gorgeous, pompous and uber confident Lucius infuriates her with his mere presence. Lucius is persistent, but he doesn’t like being made to look foolish, so he backs off. Then Faith Crosse, the school goddess, sinks her canines into Lucius just when Jessica warms to the idea of being a princess. Lucius’s princess. Can she win him back and in turn avert a vampire war?

JESSICA’S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE is a fast, enjoyable read with a nice balance between comedy and drama. It doesn’t get too bogged down in vampire lore. Beth Fantaskey borrows only a few of the usual bloodsucker staples (eg. stake + heart = death) and puts her own spin on the genre. I adored Lucius. He’s showy but endearing. His incredulous comments about America in correspondence with his cruel uncle Vasile were side-splitting. If you want a break from dark, dark vamp stories, give this one a go.

To celebrate our one-year blogiversary, I have a review copy of Beth Fantaskey’s novel to give away, thanks to our generous Penguin friends. For your chance to win, all you need to do is tell me how you’d react if you discovered you’re really a vampire princess-to-be. Would it totally suck? The winner will be unveiled next week.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side



  1. Wow, Vanessa, one year? How time flies! Congratulations on the success of We Love YA. It’s such a bright, interesting place to hang out on the net. This book actually sounds really cute – must check it out. Love the fated lovers theme! That’s a great review – makes me eager to sink my teeth into the story. Groan!

  2. Fangs for stopping by, Anna. Bwah-ha-ha…groan!

    I got some funny looks from other passengers on the train when I laughed out loud reading JESSICA’S GUIDE.

    It does seem like we had the launch party a blink of an eye. Thank you for being a regular visitor to the blog. It’s always fun to see you here, adding to the brightness!

  3. Aw man, I wish I could win this one- looks like I’ve just got my new No. 1 on ‘must read ‘ list!
    Thanks Vanessa!

  4. Hi, Ellie! You’ll like this one. It’s a lot of fun. Oops, I’m rhyming. It must be early.

  5. Hi Vanessa. Happy birthday! I’m throwing a couple of streamers in your general direction and waving a glittery balloon.

    It’s fantastic that the blog is now a year old. It’s always great fun dropping by here. I have to say I just devoured your description of Dating on the Dark Side. It sounds gorgeous. I’d love to see what Beth F has done with Lucius. He sounds fascinating and I love the thread of humor you’ve picked up on.

    What to do if I discovered I was a vampire princess? Scare any kids who gave me a hard time in school? No, surely I’m more mature… I suppose I’d have to find the bits that were the most fun, at least initially, and make the most of them. Strange, I’ve just started a new story and my heroine has just discovered she’s a princess. She’s not impressed…But she will be, eventually.

    Happy birthday. Enjoy the celebrations!

  6. Happy blog birthday, Vanessa! This books sounds excellent, is it on sale in Australia?
    I ask because I was telling one of my teen daughter’s friends about the “historical Gossip Girl” books you reviewed. You mean LUXE she said? Apparently she was desperately trying to find them (and very impressed I knew about them!)
    She’s an avid reader, just the kind of girl you might want visiting this blog so I have told her all about it.
    I love your review of DATING ON THE DARK SIDE, as this young friend is a True Blood fan I’ll tell her to think about what she would do if she woke up a vampire princess and fly on over here! (I like old style movie vampires that can fly like bats!)

  7. mmm-mmmmm! Soy and unsweetened applesauce birthday cake! My taste buds are going crazy here, Vanessa!

    Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side sounds like a brilliant read! I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled!

    Hey and Happy Blogiversary – in the spirit of vegan vampirism, are you celebrating with a tofu and tapioca cake?


  8. Hi, Annie! Waving a sparkling balloon straight at you now and eating gelati. Thanks for being here today and supporting the blog on our b’day.

    I’m with you—I’d be seeking out all the fun bits, like getting my hands on some haute couture. A visit to the blood bank maybe…

    Looking forward to reading your new princess story!

  9. Glad you could make it, Kandy! Thanks so much for being a wonderful WLYA buddy.

    Yes, you can in fact buy JESSICA’S GUIDE here. You should find it in the new-release section. I hope your younger friend finds the Luxe series–it’s fab.

    I wish I could sprout wings and fly like the old-school vamps, too. Though this shorty is not keen on shrinking any shorter!

  10. Mmm, tapioca and tofu! I actually love them both but haven’t thought of combining them, Sharon. I’ll remember the soy cake for your next birthday.

    Thanks so much for joining the party. You always light up a cyber room!

  11. Love the site, so excited to be apart of watching it this last year.

    Sounds just dreamy. How would I respond. Well who doesn’t want to be a princess? The vampire thing would take a bit of getting used to though. But the perks would be taking risks to a whole new level. I’m sure if you were really angry, biting someone would be great therapy too.

  12. Thanks for being a regular at We Love YA, Cindy!

    I wouldn’t mind being a princess. I agree that the added dimension of fangs would be a concern, though. It’d make front-page news on if you did bite someone while on official duty!

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