Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 – review

Author: Steven A. Roman

First published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Goth girl Pandora Zwieback has a major problem: she's just discovered that her New York City hometown is the stalking ground for every monster and ghoul out to raise a little hell (literally!) . . . BUT she's apparently the only one who can see them. That means she can't tell her friends or family about the dangers around them--not unless she wants to spend the rest of her life locked up in a psychiatric ward.

But before Pan has a chance to make sense of her increasingly weird life, she finds herself in the middle of a war among rival vampire clans. Elegant Gothic Lolitas from Japan on one side, silk-suited London vamps on the other, leather-clad hunters from Eastern Europe in the middle, and all after the same prize: a mysterious crate recently delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan's father.

What is the terrifying secret of Item #179? How do its contents tie into an incident from the blood-drenched past of Pan's new friend, a 400-year-old, shape-shifting monster hunter named Annie? And, more important, will Pan survive long enough to get any answers?

The review: Blood Feud is a young adult book that does the all-important job of translating well to an adult audience. It draws a portrait of heroine Pandora Zwieback who, at the head of the book, has been moved out of New York and into small town America by her mother.

We are shown a troubled teen, a teen who sees monsters, who has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic and who is off her meds. What Pan discovers – as she is moved back to New York (laying low after she punched out the daughter of the town’s founding family) – is that she is not a paranoid schizophrenic, she is actually a seer who can see behind the façade worn by the monsters cohabiting our world. This new world is shown to her by Annie, a shapeshifter and monster hunter. Just as well as her father has accidentally bought a lot that has attracted the attention of several vampire clans.

The vampires in this are turned humans but their original source is a fallen angel, Zaqiel, this neatly explains why a vampire who walked into a hallowed space would burst into flames (unless, of course, they happened to be wearing magically enhanced body armour). They are also UV sensitive. At least one of the clans have a dhampyr as one of their agents.

The story is well paced, deliberately taking time to build Pandora’s character and racing at the end to an apocalyptic crescendo that ends with a definite cliff-hanger. Roman’s writing is wonderfully crisp drawing us into a hidden world that is great fun. Definitely recommended for the target audience (and us readers who are that little bit older). 7.5 out of 10.

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