Here we are back again for another book review. Today’s choice: Book one in the Night World series: Secret Vampire by L.J. Smith.
The book debuted 1996. I think I read this around 1997-ish? Unlike Smith’s earlier series, The Vampire Diaries, the premise of the Night World is that of a hidden supernatural community made up of vampires, witches, werewolves, and shapeshifters, who live among humans without their knowledge. As with all similar style stories, the main law that governs the creatures of the Night World mandates that they cannot reveal their existence to the humans. The Night World also takes it a step further and forbids any supernatural creatures from falling in love with humans too.
Therein, my readers lie the tension that makes these books so great!
Each of the ten novels follows a female lead who discovers she has a soulmate who is part of the Night World.
Cue ensuing danger and a love that survives beyond all things such as written law, good vs. evil, hell, even death can’t keep some soulmates away!
In Secret Vampire, we are introduced to our first female character, a human girl named Poppy North. Poor poppy, who is a rather happy-go-lucky, tom-boy-ish (yet still pretty in an elf-like way) teenager, discovers right off the bat she is dying of pancreatic cancer.
Pretty heavy, right?
Lucky for her, her best friend, and secret vampire, James Rasmussen is also her soulmate. Betcha didn’t see that coming (okay, some slight sass, forgive me. I don't care if it’s cliché, it's a good story, so pfffft to you).
With the knowledge that the person he loves more than anyone in the world is going to be taken from him, James reveals his true nature to little Poppy, thereby defying the most extreme law of his people and knowing if found out, they could be put to death (which for Poppy, isn't much of a gamble anyway. Still, imagine dying—twice!)
As I said, poor Poppy.
Thankfully, our fanged, not so white knight, in dark armor, James, is nothing if not efficient. He has all bases covered for her 'transition' and other than Poppy’s annoying twin brother, everything should be smooth sailing…well, as smooth a sailing as bringing over a new vampire can be.
Which of course is when James’s reckless cousin Ash Redfern hits town for a visit. Given the boys are the same age, who else would he stay with? Certainly not his aunt and uncle?
Cue the dilemma.
Make note here readers, Ash is a pretty important player in this series. He gets his own redemption story in book two and makes an appearance in a lot of the other books. From a backstory perspective, he even comes from the first vampire bloodline.
See! Pretty important character.
Not only is Ash important, and brash, and selfish, and…well, the list goes on. But he also has a nose for trouble especially ferreting it out when its none of his business.
So, what happens when a devilishly handsome, somewhat spoilt and entitled teenager who is way too aware of his own looks and charisma (and breeding) comes across a newly—and illegally—turned vampire, that his cousin may or may not be responsible for?
Well that, my readers, you’re going to have to find out for yourself.
Some might say that Secret Vampire isn’t the most original of stories, especially given other genre-pushing supernatural novels you find these days…but you know what? It doesn’t matter. Smith has an amazing talent for drawing you into the characters world within the first few sentences and before you know it, your cheering the hero along. People think this kind of simplicity is easy to create, believe me, it’s not. To draw a reader in, to have them connect with your character and keep reading…that’s true talent and one Smith has in spades. This entire series hits the perfect notes of tension and release, all balanced on a knife’s edge that threatens to cut you in at any moment while never actually doing so.
So yeah. Night World: Secret Vampire. Check it out.
That’s it from me.
Until next time, folks.