Tag Archives: vampires

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Published in 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: won in a giveaway (paperback).

Genre: YA paranormal/horror.

My rating:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

Coldest Girl in Coldtown has been on my TBR list for two years, I think. I won it in a Halloween giveaway during my first year of blogging, and I’ve been putting off reading it because I was scared it would be too scary for me (you know I’m a chicken when it comes to horror, right?). But then I put it on my winter tbr list – and managed to read it because I love crossing items off lists. Whatever works, right?

I really liked this book, which… is both a surprise and pretty predictable, depending on how you look at it. It’s a horror story alright, nothing light about it, but it’s also a book about vampires and it has a romance in it.

Tana is a great, smart heroine who kicks some ass but isn’t perfect at the same time. Her gut reaction to vampires is horror, which is good, but there’s also attraction, which is understandable. She’s not one of those swoony heroines who fall for the vampire boys – okay, so she does fall for the vampire boy, but her feelings are lust mixed with curiosity and a hefty amount of shame. Her childhood was really colourful (her mom bit her when she was infected) and she still carries the consequences of that. Her love for her sister, Pearl, is also great, she’d do anything for her. I liked her a lot because she was such a complex character.

The romance was slow enough for me to really get behind it. First of all, it’s not love at first sight at all – we don’t know what the guy is thinking, anyway, because he’s half crazy, and Tana is afraid of him as much as she wants to kiss him. I liked how they shared their history with each other and how Tana began to trust him, even if he’s a predator who’s likely to drink all her blood. It’s a twisted attraction – and I was glad it was presented as such, not overly romanticised, as is often the case with vampire romances.

I also liked the fact that there are no vegetarian vampires in this story. By this I mean to say that vampires are, for once, crazy, blood-thirsty monsters. Are they insanely beautiful? Sure. Do they have luscious hair and gorgeous lips? Yep. But there’s no sugar-coating the fact that they need to drink blood to survive and that they often kill while feeding because biting a human makes him or her go Cold, which is the stage before vampirism, and making more vampires will mean more strain on the blood supply.

My only real complaint would be the amount of backstory – the switching chapters made me feel like the story wasn’t as tense as it could have been. I mean, yeah, the “past” segments add color and information (mostly on Tana’s character), but they were sometimes too long and I felt like skipping them to get to the good parts again.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a good story, made even better by the fact that it’s a standalone and not a part of a stretched-out series. It’s a horror story but mild enough even for me (so all you fellow chickens out there can be sure it isn’t very horrible after all). I’m really glad I gave it a try, not only because it was collecting dust on my bookshelf, but because I’m starting to really like Holly Black (I’d previously read and reviewed her novel White Cat, which IS part of a series I really need to continue). I’ll be reading more of her work for sure.

Have you read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? What did you think?

Have you read any more of Black’s novels? How about other vampire stories? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness
Published in 2011 by Headline.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: paranormal fantasy.

My rating:

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft.

Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist.

Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

srcek

I first read A Discovery of Witches several years ago – probably when the paperback was first published. And I liked it a lot! I bought the second book of the trilogy and then got stuck about a quarter way in and never finished reading it. Since I’m making an effort to finish more series, and since I already own 2 out of 3 books, I decided to give it another go.

First of all, I have to say I loved the worldbuilding in this one. The magical creatures (witches, vampires, and daemons) have very interesting histories and they seemed very well thought out. The historical aspect of the novel is also stunning, which isn’t surprising given that Harkness teaches history. I’m totally helpless when it comes to history (I blame bad school teachers), so I have no idea if the history stuff is factual, but it sure as hell sounds impressive.

I took a half star/heart from my rating this time around *le gasp*. Maybe it was because I already knew the story but I kept noticing things that didn’t bother me as much when I first read it. Mostly, I’m talking about Matthew and his antiquated views of what women should or should not be doing with their lives. His overbearing attitude to Diana (both before and after they become a couple) was horrible and I hated that it was explained away with “oh, he’s like that because he’s a vampire and also 1500 years old, so don’t bother trying to change him.”

To her credit, Diana does try to change him – she just has little to no success with it. Her initial reaction to meeting a vampire was also refreshingly normal (she kind of freaks out and tries to escape) compared to most other vampire novels.

I liked Diana a lot, despite her questionable taste in men. She’s very good at controlling every aspect of her life – until she isn’t. But she doesn’t crumble and cry when things go to shit but makes the best of her situation. She’s fiercely loyal and quick to love, which are both traits I admire in characters.

The plot is also sufficiently intriguing that I got sucked into the story again and managed to finish this 700-page beast in a matter of days. I’ll try not to wait too long before I tackle the sequel this time so I don’t forget what’s happened in this book.

srcek

Have you read A Discovery of Witches? What did you think?

Do you have any favourite books that feature history this strongly?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Tough Travels: Vampires

tough travelsSo I’m participating in this week’s Tough Travels meme again – hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, this is one great way to explore Fantasyland and create lists, YAY! Don’t forget to go and check out what other participating bloggers have put on their lists – my tbr expands every week because of them! :)

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This week, we’re arming ourselves with garlic, wooden stakes, crosses, and holy water, because we’re hunting VAMPIRES! Dangerous creatures to be sure – what with the blood-drinking, inhuman strength and speed, and their nasty habit of turning unsuspecting citizens into monsters.

I have a difficult relationship with vampires, so this post will be a ramble rather than a list as such (but the individual vampires are highlighted if you want to just skim to the bottom). Also: sorry for all the parentheses, I can’t seem to help myself.

dracula

See, creepy decrepit thingy. SO SCARY.

I was about ten when I started reading the Slovenian translation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and got so scared I couldn’t keep reading. Then my brother (who’s two years my junior) saw me being all creeped out and jumped out at me from behind my bunk bed (we still shared the room then), making me scream in fear, which sealed the deal. Dracula was the single most scary thing I’d read and it probably cemented my dislike of horror. THEN I WATCHED THE DAMNED MOVIE (the Keanu Reeves one, it’s probably not even that scary, but it was to me), and I remember a scene with vampires crawling over the ceiling in horrible, insect-like motions and OH MY GOD vampires are scary.

interview-with-vampire-kirsten-dunst

Child vampires. SO SCARY.

Then I watched Interview with the Vampire, which as you know isn’t really a horror movie but more of a romance (and I know it’s also a book but holy hell, I never want to read that), but at that point I was too young to swoon over Brad Pitt (or Tom Cruise), which left me with the horrifying memory of a child vampire (Kirsten Dunst) and some kids that Tom Cruise ate. WHAT WERE MY PARENTS THINKING, letting me watch this?

Anyway, you get the picture. Vampires were bad.

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edward-cullen

Sparkly. Not too scary.

And then I happened upon the genre of paranormal fantasy, starting with Twilight, probably, where the Cullen family sparkled and drank only Bambi blood (and mountain lions, don’t forget those). To make you understand just how much of a chicken I am: I watched the movie before I read the first book and I was so scared for a while there because I thought I was watching a horror movie o_O. Not that Edward’s stalker behaviour isn’t scary.

But Twilight got old fast and I liked the genre, which started something which we might as well call the great vampire binge of my early twenties. Here, I’ll get into list-making mode to tell you about my favourite vampire romance series (I obviously read a whole lot more than just these but there’s no use in listing them all):

  • Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole – there’s a whole jumble of supernatural creatures here (valkyries!), but it starts off with vampires. They’re everything that a romance hero should be, except they’re, you know, dead.
  • The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward – this is a cool series if you can handle your characters with extraordinarily stupid names. Seriously, Vishous, Phury, and Zsadist are actual character names. What.
  • Half Moon Hollow series by Molly Harper – well, this is a new addition to the list but Molly Harper is hilarious (I read her werewolf series before and I highly recommend it).
  • The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – this is more complex. I only read book one but I liked it and intend to return to the series eventually.
  • True Blood (which I only watched as a TV show, I never read the books) – I didn’t watch all of it because I can only handle so much gore and blood, but it was fun for a while.
  • The Vampire Diaries (ditto) – all the angst.

I still have a problem with vampires in romancesthough, namely because THEY ARE DEAD and because they’re usually cradle-snatchers. I always ask myself what a 200-year-old creature would want with a twenty-something human, and then force myself to stop thinking about touching 200-year-old skin because it creeps me out. But fangs don’t bother me too much so there’s something positive.

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So here it is, my bipolar relationship with the undead. Honorable mention goes to Silas from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, whom I remember as a kindly father figure to Bod (he’s a vampire, right?). I’m sure I forgot about a bunch of other blood-drinkers, but I’m looking forward to reading your lists this week! :)

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Which vampires did I miss? Who else would you put on this list?

Do you love or hate vampires? Do they scare you or would you gladly step into their cold embrace? :)