Search This Blog

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blood Moon by Alyxandra Harvey. London, Bloomsbury, 2012

This is the fifth in Alyxandra Harvey's Drake Chronicles,about the likeable Drake family, vampire couple Liam and Helena and their eight children. The Drake children are human till their sixteenth birthdays, then turn - if they're lucky and don't die in the process. Frankly, I don't know how someone who is technically dead could have sex let alone produce children, but this series has been so entertaining I was happy to suspend disbelief. With luck, cheerful scientist Uncle Geoffrey Drake will be able to work it out and explain it before the end of the series. The Drakes don't kill anyone with the possible exception of Hel-Blar, unlucky vampires who have been infected with something that turns them blue, gives them extra sets of fangs and makes them insane, causing them to attack anything that moves, including each other. Actually, the vampires in the district of Violet Hill, which has as many scary beings as Sunnydale, tend to carry stakes and crossbows as a matter of routine.

If you haven't been following this series but would like to, stop here and read the first four novels, without which this one will make no sense. If you have, you'll know that at the cliffhanger end of Bleeding Hearts Drake daughter Solange attacked her human boyfriend, Kieran. Now she is starting to act even stranger, allowing herself to be persuaded to drink blood from the veins of "bloodslaves", humans who have an addiction to being bitten, who offer their blood freely to vampires, and listening to an inner voice that may not be herself. Much can happen during Blood Moon, an international vampire conference happening in sleepy Violet Hill. These vamps have political disagreements, from whether or not vampires should co-operate with the vampire-hunting organisation Helios-Ra, which stays away from vampires who don't kill anyone, to who should be in charge. The only thing keeping them from going for each other's jugulars is the fact that the penalty is staking.

This series, till now, has had plenty of humour, which is what attracted me to it; as a teacher-librarian who reads a lot of YA fiction, including stacks of paranormal romance, I am relieved to find a series whose author is clearly a Buffy fan and whose characters have wit and charm. This novel still has some humour, mostly in the chapters seen from the viewpoint of Lucy,  Solange's human best friend, who is now at the Helios Ra high school which, believe it or not, has an annual senior prom( Lucy wonders if they wear glittery cargo pants on the night). But on the whole it's becoming darker - much darker. One of the characters is tortured. Solange is not her usual self though she is horrified at what she did to Kieran. Lucy is hit on the head a number of times(and seems to recover rather quickly). And the novel ends on another cliffhanger, with some unexplained matters that had me saying, "Hang on, how did he...?"

I have no doubt that my students who have been following the series will pounce on this with cries of glee and enjoy it very much. I preferred the humour, but at least there are no soppy heroines clinging to their vampire boyfriends, unless the bloodslaves are a sendup of regular paranormal heroines, which, from what I have seen in this author's other books, wouldn't surprise me.

And the good news is that after that cliffhanger is a Drake Chronicles novelette, "Lost Girls," which shows the sixteen year old Helena, who has just met Liam. Helena is a street kid, something I wouldn't have expected, but it does show her as a gutsy young fighter who is a member of a girl gang that hunts vampires who have been killing girls in her town. We also meet the young Scottish bikie Bruno, one day to be the Drakes' security chief; he is just twenty. The book is worth getting for this story alone.

No comments: