This is yet another urban fantasy vamp tale – but worth a serious look because Rachel Caine is also the author of the very successful and nicely plotted Weather Warden series.
Morganville is a small college town filled with unusual characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad come out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows – one that will spill out into the bright light of day.
For Claire Danvers, high school was hell, but college may be murder. It was bad enough that she got on the wrong side of Monica, the meanest of the school’s mean girls, but now she’s got three new roommates, who all have secrets of their own. And the biggest secret of all isn’t really a secret, except from Claire: Morganville is run by vampires, and they are hungry for fresh blood…
This tale is definitely aimed at the YA market. However, that doesn’t preclude many books from being an equally enjoyable read for those of us who a lot longer in the tooth – in a completely non-vampire way, of course. Authors such as Juliet Marillier and Trudi Canavan are often parked on the YA bookshop shelves, which doesn’t prevent me being a solid fan of both. The style and tone of this book did come across as rather young as it is written in Claire’s viewpoint and I did skim the sections where she is obsessing about the boy in her life. It isn’t a criticism, so much as an observation – I’m not, after all, the target audience this book is written for – and I was prepared to go with the flow as I found the storyline sufficiently intriguing.
One aspect I very much applaud is that Caine’s young protagonist is a highly gifted student who has been fast-tracked to college several years early. It makes a refreshing change to have an academically gifted heroine who is being seriously hazed for it, rather than the normal fashionably dumb girl very into clothes and/or shoes. It gives this fantasy a sharper, grittier edge to see school life through the eyes of this neglected minority, who after all have the potential and ability to shape our future society – and who are all too often singled out by their less able classmates.
The other aspect that sets this tale apart is Caine’s excellent pacing and atmosphere – this book hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. The initial action was all the more shocking for being committed by a gang of girls, and as Claire becomes ever more mired in Morganville’s dark side, a real sense of menace and danger is created. There is nothing remotely sexy or fun about Caine’s vampires in this book – they are lethal predators and those living alongside them are quite rightly absolutely terrified and cowed by them.
The plot twists were engrossing and the cast of characters well drawn, with several enjoyable surprises along the way. By the time we came to the cliffhanger ending, I was sufficiently hooked to want to get hold of the sequel and discover what happens next.