An Aurora YA Review: The Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann

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Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Key of Behliseth“On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.” – blurb

The Key of Behliseth is a book about a seemingly ordinary – although wholly unfortunate – fifteen year old boy named Lucky with a past that brings a great deal of complications into his life.

I really enjoyed this book, and I would love to read it again. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves high-fantasy or young adult books. The book is grounded enough in modern life that it can appeal to people who aren’t necessarily avid fantasy readers, but it also has enough fantasy elements and an engaging enough plot that fantasy readers will almost certainly enjoy it, too. The main character, Lucky, is a very realistic hero. When he’s thrown into things that, to him, don’t make much sense, he doesn’t just immediately understand. He’s confused and has questions and is a very realistically flawed character. The story overall is also very interesting. The plot is complex, but represented in such a way that it’s easy and fun for a reader to understand.

One thing that tended to pull me out of the story in the first few chapters was the way Lucky spoke versus the way the narration was phrased. They seemed to be on two different levels. The narration was just phrased more the way an old fantasy book would be, where Lucky was in modern times and spoke with a more contemporary feel. As the story progressed, I got used to it, and it didn’t distract from the story so much that I didn’t enjoy the book.
Cover Artist: Catt Ford – The cover art for this book is beautiful. The blues and golds and blacks really make it appealing to the eye even before a person looks more closely at what the pictures on the cover are. It’s very indicative of what the book will be about and I think it’s a very well done cover, and well suited to the book.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press      All Romance eBook         amazon        Key to Behliseth

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd , 296 pages
Published September 11th 2014 by Harmony Ink Press (first published November 2010)
NOTE: This is a previously published work. The title, author, and/or publisher may have changed.
A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title 2nd Edition
original titleBeyond the Wizard’s Threshold
ISBN 1632162482 (ISBN13: 9781632162489)

 

Cover Reveal for Unicorns and Rainbow Poop by Sam Kadence (contest)

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Need a little wonder in your life?  Check out the new cover for  Sam Kadence’s Unicorns and Rainbow Poop!  There is an excerpt to read and a contest to enter! Now on to  our cover reveal…

Book Name: Unicorns and Rainbow Poop
Author Name: Sam Kadence

Author Bio:

Sam Kadence has always dreamed about being someone else, somewhere else. With very little musical talent, Sam decided the only way to make those dreams come true was to try everything from cosplay at the local anime conventions to writing novels about pretending to run away to become a musician.

Sam has a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, sells textbooks for a living, enjoys taking photographs of Asian Ball Joint Dolls to tell more stories, and has eclectic taste in music from J-pop to rock and country. All of which finds its way into the books eventually.

Author Contact:

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008292783586&fref=ts&ref=br_tf
https://www.facebook.com/SamKadence
@parisbvamp

10722326_10204675409863614_1859204750_oPublisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist:  Aaron Anderson
Sales Links for Dreamspinner Press:  eBook    Paperback

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop Blurb:

Ex-boyband member Dane Karlson is struggling to overcome an eating disorder and a body dismorphic disorder. His fall through a glass table puts him in rehab and on the road to recovery. Then a friend dies. When depression causes him to lose ground, he calls for the only person he trusts–former bandmate Tommy. But Tommy doesn’t know how to help. He begs his friend Sebastian “Bas” Axelrod to aid them through the emotional struggle.

Bas, an openly gay high school student who’s recently lost his grandmother, is trying to survive his last few months of school before escaping to Stanford. Having just lost the only person in his family to care for him, he is victim to the cruelty of the others. His younger brother bullies him, and his parents are suing him for his gran’s inheritance. When Tommy calls, Bas can’t help but run to his side.

Together Dane and Bas find a middle ground, supporting each other through the lows, dancing together during the highs. They build friendships and plan for the prom and graduation, thinking positively as long as they are together.

Categories: YA, Contemporary, m/m

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop Excerpt:

“So I was thinking since you and I both care about Tommy, we have something in common. See, Tommy is stressed, and I thought we could do something nice for him.”

Dane sat but glared at the man suspiciously. “What sort of nice thing?”

Bas motioned to the bags. “We’re going to make him cookies.”

Dane gulped. “I don’t like food.”

“You won’t be eating it. Tommy will. He canceled a class to come here. Did he tell you? He was taking a theater class at the community college back in Minnesota. Had to withdraw to be here. And with college, you know that means giving up any money paid. Not that money matters much to you guys. Though as young as you all are, I hope you’re well invested.”

Bas shrugged at him and began taking things out of the bags. Flour, eggs, sugar—both white and brown—food coloring, butter, vanilla, and lemons.

“I didn’t know,” Dane said quietly. He’d thought Tommy would be the least affected by his problems. Of course he’d been wrong about that too. Couldn’t he do anything right? “I don’t know anything about cooking.”

“That’s okay. I got this recipe online. It’s pretty easy. We’re making unicorn poop cookies.”

“What?”

“They are sugar cookies with food coloring in them to make them all rainbow-like. Unicorns are good luck and all that. Supposed to be the embodiment of goodness and purity.” Bas picked up his tablet, tapped the screen, and flipped it so Dane could see. The cookies really did look like a big pile of rainbow poop.

“Looks tasty,” Dane grumbled.

“We shall see, right? Think you can measure for me?” He pulled out a couple of cookie sheets and turned on one of the many ovens. “I got permission to use the kitchen here, but we can’t get too rowdy or they’ll kick me out.” He winked at Dane. “I’m pretty sure the orderlies outside are to make sure I’m not burning the place down.”

Dane got up and moved around the counter to stare at the list of ingredients. Bas plugged in a big mixer and took the mixing bowl out of it, bringing it to the counter for them to fill.

“This is really for Tommy?”

“Sure. We can send some to Ru and Adam too if you’d like. I heard they are only an hour or so away.”

“I don’t want Ru to know I’m here,” Dane said immediately. He didn’t need to mess up anyone else’s life.

“No worries. We need tell them nothing other than that they are from you.”

RainbowBadgeTour Dates: October 6, 2014

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Andrew Q. Gordon, Amanda C. Stone, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, BFD Book Blog, My Fiction Nook, The Hat Party, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Foxylutely Book Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Cathy Brockman Romances, Fallen Angel Reviews, Rebecca Cohen Writes, The Blogger Girls, Cate Ashwood, A_TiffyFit’s Reading Corner, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Smoocher’s Voice, Will Parkinson, Love Bytes, Multitasking Mommas, Twinsie Talk, Iyana Jenna

Contest: Rafflecopter Prize: $20 Amazon Gift Card. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Use the Rafflecopter link provided to enter and for all additional contest details.

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Cover Reveal for Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann! (contest)

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Book Name: Key of Behliseth (The Sunchild Chronicles)
Author Name: Lou Hoffmann

DEC2013LAPTOP - HoffmannAuthor Bio: Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing as more and more fascinating tales are told in written form. She reads factual things—books about physics and stars and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. Through all that time she’s written stories of her own, but she’s come to be a published author only as a johnnie-come-lately. Lou loves other kinds of beauty as well, including music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, rivers and seas. Proud to be a bisexual woman, she’s seen the world change and change back and change more in dozens of ways, and she has great hope for the freedom to love in the world the youth of today will create in the future. You can find Lou on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lou.hoffmann, or twitter @Lou_Hoffmann.

Author Contact:  Twitter   @Lou_Hoffmann

Key of BehlisethTitle:  Key of Behliseth (The SunChild Chronicles) by Lou Hoffmann
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (Dreamspinner Press YA imprint)
Buy Links:          Dreamspinner eBook  Dreamspinner Paper 

Note: Use this code for a discount at DSP:Code: SUNCHILD
20% off – preorders
15% off – first 2 weeks after release

Blurb:
On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.
Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

Excerpt (larger text to the side):

 

KOB excerpt graphic when something is trueThurlock gazed evenly at him. His cheek twitched; probably a tic, but to Lucky it looked like pain, a wince repeated over and over again. It made Thurlock’s next words seem important, maybe even urgent.

“I have erred. I’ve hurt you and that was never my intent. I assure you neither I nor Han are serial killers or anything else that’s ugly—we’re not like any of the predators you’ve probably met in the last few years.” Lucky didn’t have to decide whether to try to deny he’d had such thoughts, because Thurlock kept talking. “You can leave, if you want, with your key. If you go, I’ll watch over you as best I can, and—”

“Watch over me?”

“—and I’ll never again force you or trick you into coming here. You never need come back, if you wish it that way. Or—” Thurlock shifted his gaze, and though he didn’t move, his gray eyes closed in on Lucky’s until it felt as if they stood nose to nose. “—or you can open your eyes, and look into mine, and let yourself see with that part of you that you trust even though you don’t understand it, the part that knows when something is important, when something is true.”

hoffman KOB SCC banner (corrected) colorTour Dates: 8/12/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Amanda C. Stone, Havan Fellows, MM Good Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Velvet Panic, Love Bytes, The Hat Party, Angel Martinez, Fallen Angel Reviews, Iyana Jenna, Will Parkinson, The Novel Approach, Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Smoocher’s Voice, Cate Ashwood, Charli Green

Contest:  Ebook copy of Key to Behliseth by Lou Hoffman.  Use the Rafflecopter link provided for the entry form and for additional contest details.  YA contest, age appropriate.

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Review: Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Necromancy and You coverAlter (Al) Skelton is just like  any other 15 year old who is obsessed with death.  He has a purple and black bedroom full of skulls, walls decorated with Day of the Dead posters and a vent where he hides all his copies of Raising the Dead from Cemetery Comics.  Shortly after his 15th birthday, Al sends away for a copy of  Necromancy and You with a coupon out of the back of his Raising the Dead comic along with the box tops from three boxes of Count Chocula cereal. The book he receives in the mail is so much more than he expected.  Instead of a paperback, Al gets a heavy leather bound book addressed to him and immediately his life starts to change dramatically.

From the moment Al starts to read the book, he realizes something is weird.  The spells in the book are working for him as a disastrous incident in his science lab demonstrated.  Al can raise the dead.  Now he’s a boy with a plan and the ability to raise the dead.  That plan? To raise his dead father and get his family back together.  But so many obstacles block his path.  The man his mother is dating is hateful and abusing, too bad he is also Al’s psychiatrist. An evil group called the Coalition operates a school for Necromancers and they will do everything in their power to bring Al into their fold. Suddenly Al’s world is full of ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and talking dead frogs.  What’s a young budding necromancer to do when danger is all around him in a world turned more dark and scary than usual?

Missouri Dalton has created an instant classic for older teens and adults alike with Necromancy and You, the second story in the Guidebook series.  Never have I been so enthralled by a young 15 year old like Al Skelton.  As created by Dalton, Al is a brilliant, depressed social outcast, who lives for his Raising the Dead comics and memories of his old family life.  His father died five years before when Al was 10, an event that happened while his dad was away on business so Al never got to say goodbye. Since then, his mother has turned cold and distant, spending all her time either at work or with her  new boyfriend, a sadistic man who also happens to be Al’s psychiatrist.  With his present life a nightmare, Al would like nothing better than his family back together again, happy and whole, an impossibility considering his dad is dead.  If this description starts to conjure up visions of Harry Potter, then yes, there are similarities.  But for me, I find Al Skelton far more interesting and quite a bit darker.  He is also far more sarcastic and self aware than Harry seemed to be.  But I guess that comes with being a Necromancer. albeit a budding one as well as being a bit of a smartmouth.

Dalton’s narrative is so clever, so enthralling and her main character so charismatic and appealing that the reader is pulled in instantly, immediately hooked on Dalton’s world building and Al’s life. Oh the life of a teenager at 15, it’s such a tough one.  Hormones are raging, poised between child and adult, the world can be a harsh place, especially if that teenager is just a little different from everyone else.  Dalton takes this truism and gives us a darker version.  Al doesn’t just think everyone is out to get him, they really are.  Lonely, upset and missing his father and the way his family used to be? That should sound familiar to any number of kids these days. And if the normal world is scary place for them, what would happen if you then find out that vampires, ghouls, zombies and ghosts are real and you are not quite human?

Lucky for us, we get to find out as Al goes from normal teen to powerful Necromancer and beyond.  This is how it all starts:

When the package arrived, that clear crisp morning on the twenty-third of October, I knew it would be a good day. The package was green, vibrant and shiny, tied with black string. The address label was white with black letters that spelled my name.

Alter Skelton

215 Bridge Lane

Verity, IL 34055

It was a package I’d been waiting for seven weeks and three days. Waiting ever since I mailed in the coupon out of the back of Raising the Dead along with the box tops from three boxes of Count Chocula cereal. The ad had caught my attention immediately, gleaming on the slightly thicker glossy paper of the back cover, in bright green and black and white.

Learn to control the forces of life and death! This book will change your life!

I knew in a heartbeat I would do anything to get my hands on it. So despite my normal tendency toward not eating breakfast, I ate it. I also started to act less strange around my mother to decrease suspicion. And now, on a Saturday morning, I had my book.

I took the parcel immediately to my room. My mother was out shopping, so I had a good couple hours to peruse the book before shoving it behind the vent cover where I kept my issues of Raising the Dead and the pornographic magazine Tommy had foisted on me after his mother started cleaning his room again.

And then later on, once Al is safely in his room:

I cleared the detritus off of my bed, mostly clothes, and unwrapped the parcel.

The book was heavy, and as I tore away the paper, I noticed it was not the paperback copy I’d expected from the photo in the back of the comic. The cover, by the feel, was leather, black. On the very front there was incised decoration: bright green lines indented as a border around a white skull that felt and looked like bone. Over the skull, in silver lettering, was the title.

Necromancy and You!

Underneath the skull was a secondary title. From A to Zombie

There was no author listed. On the interior page was a notation.

A Stone House publication copyright 1344. Do not redistribute. Books sold without covers are considered stripped books; the house nor the author receives payment. Please refrain from purchasing stripped books.

And on the next page.

Welcome, young master! You have chosen to take the first step in a wonderful journey! Herein are the methods, practices, and rules of the way of Necromancy! Please read the entire first chapter thoroughly before proceeding to the Practical Applications to ensure safety!

Well. Safety was important. One wouldn’t want to raise anyone on accident or anything. No need to get the neighborhood riled with corpses walking about. Or skeletons. Or both.

No, secrecy was key here.

The neighbors were too nosy as it was. Then again, so was my mother.

And from the moment Al opens the book and begins to read, his journey (and ours) has started.  There is no going back, not that he would want to of course, at least in the beginning. Al has a unique voice, it’s quirky, it self effacing and it definitely belongs to a teenager.  It has just that right amount of young perspective and cluelessness while still sounding aware and confident.  How I love this boy.  Al is also remarkably resilient and he has to be. Because before him are so many unpleasant truths about his world and horrifying events to cope with that the ability to take such things in stride is necessary for his survival.

Along his journey he also meets a cadre of remarkable personalities and creatures, some friend, some foe, and some just well….we just don’t know where they stand.  But all of them are exquisitely created.  They team with life or unlife (!) as the case may be.  Some are personalities that we have met already in Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01), including that m/m couple of foster vampire Duncan and 17 year old Louis.  They loom large in Al’s future but more than that I won’t say.  You will have to discover the details for yourself.  All the characters involved are memorable, some charming, some chilling and several downright evil.  But no matter what side they fall on, good or bad, they are all believable and realistic right down to the smallest detail.

Dalton moves her narrative along at a swift and smooth pace and you will want to scamper along with her, wanting to rush to see where the plot is taking Al and you next.  But slow down, don’t miss any of the details, even the ones that seem so insignificant.  There is so much layering here, of plot twists, relationship dynamics, family dynamics, young love (more on that later), the trials and tribulations of growing up….you name it and Missouri Dalton has incorporated it into her story.  But  Dalton does so effortlessly, her narrative never feeling jumbled up or dense.  Really, this is an outstanding book in a remarkable  series.

There are some things that should be noted. Necromancy and You as well as the Guidebook series are categorized as a YA book, a category I do agree with one limitation.  I don’t feel it is appropriate for anyone under the age of 15 (Al’s age).  While a kiss between the hero and heroine is the sexiest this gets, there are mild suggestive comments for the sexual activities of a few other couples.  Nothing explicit, nothing even major, but its there.  My limitations pertaining to age is more along the lines of the traumatic events that occur.  Al is hurt numerous times and while we are spared the details, it happens and younger children might be upset. People die and there are other potentially violent  scenes.  They are necessary for the book and work beautifully within the narrative.  Most of the violence is “off stage” as it were, but the emotional impact is huge.  These events are as beautifully constructed as the rest of the story so yes, you will feel them just as Al does.  This is an emotionally moving, heartfelt and heartrending story.  It has the power to bring tears to your eyes even as they are rolling down our hero’s face.

In addition to giving us an intrepid young man, Dalton gives us an equally resourceful heroine. This is a minor romance happening within the storyline.  Al is straight and there is a slight romance starting here.  One that I suspect will grow over the course of the series, along with that of our m/m couple Louis and Duncan.  Again, like every other teenage, young love finds a way, no matter your sexual preference.  But this series is geared towards suspense and mystery of the supernatural kind.  The romances that occur are secondary to the main focus of the series,  a battle brewing against good and evil, that eternal conflict with surprising elements to each side.  I wanted to order print copies immediately and go running along crowded sidewalks, passing them out and yelling at them to  “read this book”!!!!!  Teenagers, young adults, old adults, and everyone in between needs to read this book, invest themselves in the series.

As you may have guessed, I enthusiastically recommend this book and this series.  I will leave you with a few thoughts from Al himself:

I just couldn’t take normal life seriously.

“Mr. Skelton, are you paying attention?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good, then you can complete the problem on the board.”

Do. Not. Kill.

That should not be anyone’s daily mantra.

While it may not be ours, I love that it is Al’s.  Run, fly, do whatever you have to do, but get this book!

Here is the Guidebook stories in the order they were written:

Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01)

Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02)

Book Details:

ebook, 206 pages
Published July 3rd 2013 by Prizm Books
ISBN1610404939 (ISBN13: 9781610404938)
edition languageEnglish
series Guidebook 

Review: Vampirism and You (Guidebooks #01) by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Vampirism and You coverLouis Von Graves has had an unusual childhood.  His family name is Krekowski but his parents named him Louis Von Graves. It’s almost as though they knew what would happen to him.  You see, Louis’ family are indentured servants to vampires, specifically, The Countess and have been for more generations than can be remembered.  When he was younger, Louis’ name was picked out of a hat filled with the names of children from all the servants.  Why? So that the chosen one would be turned on his 17th birthday and become a vampire, a child of the Countess. It doesn’t matter what the child wants, its wham, bite, death, and you’re a vampire.

So here he is, 17 and a new vampire.  He has been taken away from his family and friends in England and given over to a foster sire who will teach him how to be a vampire and all the rules and regulations that go along with it.  But no one told him he would have to go to America, and no one told him he would have to go to school.  With a bunch of american high school kids no less.  So what is a sullen, pouting, teenager to do when his world has been turned upside down, he has powers he doesn’t know what to do with and a overwhelming desire to drink his classmates blood?  Why be given a guidebook of course.

But the book, Vampirism and You (A Beginner’s Guide to the Change) that his foster-vampire sire Duncan gives him can’t prepare him for everything.  A new vampire appears at the house he shares with Duncan and while Eli appears to be friendly, Duncan hates him and tells Louis to stay away from Eli at all costs. And while Louis wants to eat the girls around him, he doesn’t want to date them.  Does that make him a gay vampire?  Louis isn’t sure what the answer is but increasingly all the questions about his sexuality seem to have Duncan as their focus.

But soon Louis learns that life is not all vampire fun and games.  There is great intrigue,  and evil court politics to contend with. Plus Louis is having nightmares that keep getting more vivid all the time and the answers seem to lie in his past.  Louis must contend with unexpected evil, horny cheerleaders, and the possibility he just might be gay all at the same time.  Hopefully the guidebook can help him, now only if he could remember to read his homework!

I have found a new addiction and it’s not one book or even two.  It’s a new series from Missouri Dalton and Torquere Press’s YA Press, Prizm Books.  The Guidebooks series revolves around a group of supernatural guidebooks, each a part of a series for a group of supernatural practitioners and/or supernatural beings.  Whether it be necromancers or vampires or something more, each book is delivered or given to a teenager as they come of age (whether it is being turned or coming into their powers).  The first book in the series, Vampirism and You (A Beginner’s Guide to the Change) is given to one Louis Van Graves shortly after he is turned on his 17th birthday.

What a spectacular idea for a series!  And with Missouri Dalton, an author I have come to throughly enjoy, as it’s creator, the series has really taken flight into the realm of classic storytelling.  Louis Van Graves is that typical teenager at  17 years of age who has been made to do something he never wanted to do.  Of course, we aren’t talking woodshop here. Louis has been made into a vampire through no true choice of his own.  Not only was his name picked out of a hat but he also was promised something huge by the Countess if he agreed to be turned.   In exchange for his mortal life, the Countess agrees to let his sister live a normal life and his family leave her employ to become “normal” once more after centuries as indentured servants.  But that meant that Louis had to become the sacrificial lamb for his sister and family, something none of them even tried to stop.  So Louis’ feelings here are more than the normal sullen, pouting teenager.  In Dalton’s hands, we have a young intelligent man, separated forever from his family, forced by love to become something he never wanted and removed to the American Midwest, a foreign place in everyway, including culture no matter that we both speak “English”.  Louis is profoundly hurt, not that he would ever let on and he is trying to figure out what it all means. Just as any teenager is trying to do but in extreme circumstances. The character of Louis manages to come across as not only a believable teenager going through the appropriate stages of emotional growth but also as a realistic young vampire trying to figure out his newly dead and supposedly long lasting status.  Such a dichotomy, to walk the halls of high school, navigating the social cliques of that age but having to walk hallways full of newly categorized food.

Louis has to contend with not only relocation and new status as a vampire but a foster sire as well.  Duncan (another marvelous character) has taken control of Louis as the Countess is not “terribly maternally”.   This is Louis’ first introduction to Duncan his foster sire.  Louis has been shipped off in a coffin, wearing clothes more suitable to a 18th pirate than a teenage boy:

Then again — the hearse went over a particularly large pothole, knocking my head into the lid of the coffin. It didn’t budge so much as a centimeter, seeing how I was locked in. Apparently her ladyship thought I might try to make a run for it. How right she was. The hearse quite suddenly rumbled to a stop. I heard the doors open and close. And then my coffin was being lifted and carried. An odd sensation I’ll admit.

There was the sound of doors — sliding doors, sucking sounding, like at the market. Footsteps echoed outside the coffin, not wood floors, tile probably.

They didn’t take me to a morgue did they?

Another ten minutes of jostling and my coffin was set down — not far down, probably on a raised surface. There was a jingle of keys and click of one turning in a lock before the lid was pushed open. I rolled over and sat up, and was met with the speculative look of a man much better dressed than myself. His dark hair was slicked back neatly, and his striped blue button-down shirt was tucked into pressed black slacks.

“Hello, Captain,” he said, blue eyes hiding laughter rather unsuccessfully.

“Bite me.”

“I may take you up on that.” Without a word, he slid his arms under my legs and armpits and lifted me out of the coffin, setting me down on my feet.

“Bloody hell!” I glared, “I didn’t ask for help.”

“Uh huh.” He picked up a clipboard from a table next to my coffin, which itself was on a metal table in the gray-tiled room with gray walls and flickering overhead 6 lights. There were three other tables, two of which held open coffins.

“I see you’ve come to us from Countess Von Graves.”

“Yes.” So the Von Graves name came from her ladyship — it’s still ridiculous.

“She’s marked you as a flight risk — well, first things first, a change of clothes.” He jerked his thumb at the door. “Follow me.” Not having any other choice, I followed. The next room was carpeted, narrow, and long. A table ran along the length of the left side of the room, mirrors covered the right-hand wall — not that I could see myself in them anymore — and there was a door at the very end. The table had a myriad of things. Boxes filled with odds and ends, files, clothes, and a couple of coolers. He grabbed jeans and a plain black T-shirt from the table and tossed them to me. Of course it was black. Never mind that I looked much better in other colors. “Put these on.” He turned around, I suppose to give me privacy, and I stripped down as quickly as I could and redressed in the fresh clothes. Much better.

“All done.”

He turned to me and grinned. “Good.” Walking farther into the room, he dug through the clutter on the table to retrieve a small metal vial and a bracelet that had an obvious setting for the tiny vial at the front. He stepped back to me. “Now, the Countess marked your file, but I prefer to just ask. Are you a flight risk?”

“No,” I snapped.

“So yes then.” He nodded. “You get a tracking device.” He held up the vial and bracelet. The bracelet he snapped around my wrist before I could blink. Then, he bit down on his lip, drawing blood, and dripped one drop into the vial, closed it, and slid it onto the bracelet with a click.

And with that, Louis’ education begins.

I love how beautifully  Dalton incorporates the typical teenage feelings and moods into a 17 year old newly formed vampire with it’s own newly acquired needs.  Louis has not just regular teenage hormones to contend with but the hyped up sexuality of a vampire.  Quite overwhelming to someone who has never dated.  Louis must traverse not only the pitfalls and crevasses of an american high school but those of vampire society, each with its own dangers.

Missouri Dalton never loses track of the age of her main character or of her core audience no matter how dire the circumstances of Louis’ life or unlife becomes. Louis’ has a singular voice, so typically teenage but full of personality.  He is alternately sarcastic and hopeful, wry and hurt, little sparks of youthful arrogance appearing when you least expect to do along with equal amounts of hidden humility.  So engaging, that you become involved in Louis’ plight immediately as the true precarious nature of his status becomes known.  And that leads us into the darker sections of this novel.

Yes, there are plenty of funny situations here but there are also just as many dire ones as well as the book continues, these are vampires after all.  There are references to some horrific events, none of which are described or actually referred to in terms that I think might be warranted.   There is a “blood rape” where one is bitten against their wishes.  That is described but not in overly vivid terms.  Dalton doesn’t need them in order for us to see and feel the horror of the event.  And there is more, also either in the past or not described.  But they do occur.

This is also a book about a teenager finding out not only he is gay and coming to terms with his sexuality.  But it’s also about being a sexual person.  OK, think of teenagers and their hormones and then multiply that.  And Louis’ has to come to grips with all of that and more.  It’s funny, it’s painful and at one point horrific.  And at alls times, it also feels very real.  There are no explicit sexual scenes here, just the wants and emotions associated with sexuality.  Louis’ emotions are those we can easily understand with dealing with growing up and becoming a sexual being.  It’s confusing, confounding, and can overwhelm our senses. Plus with Louis there is something more going on.  The vampires or at least a contingent of them are dark, evil beings and have been so for centuries.  And they want Louis.  Not a good thing, trust me.

Missouri Dalton has also populated this book and her series with one memorable being after  another, each a fully fleshed out (for the most part) character with real feelings and emotions backing up their actions.  Her settings too ring with authenticity from high school plays and social dynamics to the Courts of Vampire Society that feel as real as the high school gymnasium.  Not a hint of a jumbled narrative to be seen here.

My only issue is a slight one and that would be the ending.  A few loose ends still frayed and lagging in the wind.  They are tied up neatly in the beginning of Necromancy and You (Guidebooks #02) but still those bits here keep this from a perfect 5 star rating.  This is a YA story but definitely geared towards the older crowd.  I am thinking 15 to Adult, nothing younger.  There are some very dark issues here that have to be addressed, not just youthful hormones. I can’t say anything further because I won’t spoil this book.  But if you have a sensitive child, read the story for yourself first before giving it to them.  Always a good idea at any rate.

I have to admit I read Necromancy and You first, and then came back to pick this one up.  How do they fare?  Well, I found this story to be a little darker but both are just outstanding and I will be recommending this series as one of the Best of 2013.  Whether you are 15 or 50, this story and this series is for you.  Memorable characters, thrilling narrative, great dialog…really  it has it all.  Start at the beginning  and work your way through.  What a marvelous journey it is going to be.

Book/Series Covers by LC Chase.  Each cover is the cover of the Guidebook given to the teenager in the story.  This a great idea and the covers work perfectly in every way.

Book Details:

ebook, 199 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Prizm Books
ISBN1610404297 (ISBN13: 9781610404297)
edition language English