Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Series: The Morganville Vampires
Author: Rachel Caine
Page Count: 239
Published: October 3rd, 2006
 Publisher: NAL
5 Stars ★★★★★

Claire is sixteen years old, and starting her first year of post-secondary education in Morganville. After angering Monica, one of the popular girls in her college dorm, she finds herself battered, bruised, and desperate. 

While going through advertisements for off-campus housing, she stumbles across the Glass House. Shane, Michael, and Eve are looking for a fourth roommate. They reluctantly allow her to stay, but only temporarily...at least, that was their plan.

Monica is out for revenge, and not only does she have her group of human admirers to assist her, but as Claire soon learns, she has connections with vampires as well. But the worst of it is yet to come; Claire will face shocking revelations, brutal attacks, and life-threatening betrayals.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first installment in The Morganville Vampires series, Glass Houses. The synopsis had me prepared for a stereotypical, potentially cliché YA novel, with brooding vampires and spontaneous love affairs. 

While some of the vampires could be described as brooding, it wasn't a common trait amongst every single one of them. I appreciated that Rachel Caine gave each of the vampires their own unique personalities as opposed to the popular "I'm a self-loathing vampire" trope...it made them seem all the more believable. 

As for the non-vampire characters in this book, I really grew to care about some and loathe others. They were realistic; they had their own strengths and beauty, yet they also had their flaws. The characters were diverse and I felt like they complimented each other well and really added to the story.

The plot and pacing were so incredibly refreshing, especially for a YA novel! Chapters didn't drag on and on, yet they didn't fly by either. I was hooked to the story, and to the mystery and danger Claire had to face throughout the book. As for the romantic aspect, I was greatly impressed. There was no "insta-love", and when characters did become interested in each other it was obvious why (and it wasn't just because of looks, money, or paranormal status). In other words, the romance was meaningful.

I recommend this to fans of vampire fiction and YA fiction,  especially fans of Claudia Gray and Melissa de la Cruz. 

The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

Series: Darkangel Trilogy
Author: Meredith Ann Pierce
Page Count: 281
Published: April 15th, 1998
Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company Magic Carpet Books
  4 Stars ★★★★

Aeriel and her mistress, Eoduin, are out one day, away from their village, when the Darkangel kidnaps Eoduin to be his bride. Aeriel hopes to avenge her mistress by killing the vampyre, but she is kidnapped as well, to be his servant.

The Darkangel's castle is dark and depressing, guarded by menacing, chained gargoyles. Aeriel is tasked with tending to the vampyres's thirteen wives, who have now become hideous, soulless wraiths.

The wraiths urge her to kill the vampyre before he chooses a fourteenth and final bride and the magical duarough, living in the caves beneath the castle, helps her devise a plan to lead to his undoing. But will Aeriel have the ruthlessness to truly end the Darkangel's existence? Or will her compassion motivate her to find another way to defeat his evil side?

The first book in this trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce was captivating, magical, and emotional. Despite some wordy descriptions and occasionally confusing dialogue, I was sucked into the story from the first chapter.

I consider this novel to be fantasy, horror, and adventure, a combination of sub-genres I have never come across in the general young adult genre before. It included everything from winged vampires to living water to water witches to talking animals, and it took place in what appeared to be another planet or world. The horror aspect was fulfilled through the wraiths' appearances and over-all condition, along with the vampyre's gothic castle, his unpredictable temper and grisly past times, and the dark tales Aeriel tells to the inhabitants of the castle. As for the adventure, Aeriel's quest to obtain the materials necessary to kill the vampyre is an adventure both excitingly dangerous and breathtakingly beautiful.

I felt like this book was kind of like a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. We have the woman kidnapped and brought to a beast's castle, the cast of unique and/or transformed inhabitants, and the incident of the captive running away and later returning, her compassion for her captor overcoming her fear. For this reason, I recommend this book to fans of fairy-tale retellings.

I also recommend this book to fans of fantasy, horror, and adventure stories, and to adults and teens alike looking for a romance-free novel with paranormal themes.