A wistful, schooling story about a vampire’s futile attempts to rid her kind of a disease that wipes many out. The story starts with the appearance of Isabella, an annoyance to the protagonist, in the university where Doneele works. Doneele then goes home to find Nikoli, who explains why he and Isabella are there. He is sick and they think that Doneele is able to help him. A few weeks later, Isabella takes and kills one of Doneele’s students. This leads Doneele to banish her for a month. During this month away from Isabella, Doneele is able to test the blood of Nikoli and many other vampires suffering and those not. She discovers that those infected do not have urchin cells –the cell that makes them vampires. After she went out with Aaron—her human lover—to get burgers, she comes home to find Isabella arguing with Emily—a vampire friend. After that, she is summoned by Cain who tells her that her attempts of saving Nikoli were in vain. Doneele is then forced to accept that she must let it go and enjoy the time she has left with Nikoli. Vacationing with Aaron, Doneele is sneak-attacked by Isabella but she is able to kill her and she is forced to turn Aaron into a vampire.
The plot was original and intriguing. Original because Cynthia used the myth of vampires to provide comfort and guidance to everyone who has lost someone in death. Doneele struggles when she is forced to accept that there is nothing she can do to prevent Nikoli from dying and after Nikoli’s death. Intriguing because Cynthia chose the myth of vampires above other things that could have possibly fit, but the myth of vampires fit perfectly. It fits for one reason: the vampires have survived through everything, so they are not used to their closest friends and family dying so suddenly. This relates perfectly to us, even though we, as a species, have lived many centuries, but the deaths of our closest friends and family are never something we can get used to. There is no one way to deal with death.
Entering the world Cynthia Helton had created without much of an exposition or explanation, she avoided plainly introducing every character and establish the conflict, and did this throughout the story. The audience was able to learn the backstory of Doneele and most of her cousins through Doneele’s flashbacks and memories. Naturally, I came to like Doneele because she was the protagonist. I came to dislike Isabella because she was constantly annoying Doneele with her selfish and petty reasons. Even though it was a story about vampires, they still felt human.
The moral of the story was open and fully unplugged. No one is used to death, but when we accept that it is coming, we can enjoy the time we have left with that person. Helton made this clear when Doneele goes to Cain, hoping for answers for the cure of the unknown disease and when she sees Nikoli accepting his inevitable death. Coming back to Doneele’s home, Isabella also grapples with the reality of the death of Nikoli, blaming his death on Doneele’s lack of effort.
Anyone could read this book and take away valuable lessons while enjoying it. It is definitely so much more than a story about vampires. You don’t have to love reading about mythical creatures to enjoy this book, which is why I would recommend it. Concerning age, I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up.
|Dorrance Publishing Co.
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