My stepdaughter gave me Vampire Academy (RazorBill) by Richelle Mead for Christmas this year. The Vampire Academy is one of her favourite series, one she said she liked better than Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. As a teen, and into my early 20s, I read a lot of vampire books, some of which are still my favourites and I always recommend when people mention this genre.

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I read Vampire Academy in a day or so. I quite enjoyed it. One of the things I like the most about vampire books is the author’s view of vampires themselves – what they are, what they can and can’t do, their humanity. Each author offers a different look at the creatures, and Mead’s version is quite interesting. In Vampire Academy there are two types of vampires – Moroi, a mortal vampire with gifts of harnessing the Earth’s magic and who drink blood, but don’t kill their feeders (humans volunteer to give their blood, getting a high from the experience, something I have read before) and the Strigoi, immortal vampires who kill their victims.

I liked that the main characters in this book – Moroi princess Lissa Dragomir and Rose, a Dhampir, a blend of vampire and human, sworn to protect the Moroi – are girls, strong girls who do what have to be done to protect each other. I borrowed Book 2 and 3 from the library, and read the second in the series in a day. My stepdaughter told me Book 2 is not her favourite of the six-part series, but she still liked it. I liked it as well, and immediately picked up Book 3. I got about 35 pages in and stopped reading it. I was liking it, but I didn’t care enough to continue, which is not to say I won’t pick it up again.

It also put me in a book slump. Book slumps, for me, often occur when I finish a fabulous book and then nothing else after seems that great. In this case, I just felt I needed a great book to get me interested in reading again.

I picked up two different books, started them, and then put them down. Nothing seemed to hold my interest.

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Then I picked up Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, which HarperCollins (Epic Reads) sent me. That was it. I was over the book slump. What a great book. It reminded me of The Jewel by Amy Ewing and the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard in that the characters are young girls, often royalty, being manipulated by the people who are actually in charge so they can stay in charge – forgetting about the people who need and want their protection. In this case, three young queens, triplets, are taken from their mother (I have a feeling about the mother) and forced to live with a group of people who have their abilities – poisoner, naturalist and elemental ­ and who grow up learning to harness their powers until their 16th birthdays when they try to kill each other. Only one girl can become queen.

Terrible. It’s a terrible story really. You want to stand up and ask why is this necessary any more? Can’t they rule together? Who thought this was a good idea? Times are changing, and this should change, too. Instead, you get pulled into each queen’s story, and their life – which really is quite awful.

Spoiler alert

The ending, which is really not the ending – I see a sequel in the works – took me completely by surprise. I didn’t see that coming.

Recommended vampire books:

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Of Saints and Shadows, Christopher Golden

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A Terrible Beauty, Nancy Baker

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Tanya Huff’s series featuring the bastard child of King Henry and a former Toronto police offer turned private detective

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