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.