Monday, November 29, 2010

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

On Solange's sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that's not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black - agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father's killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon - her human best friend Lucy - who is willing to defend Solange's right to a normal life, whether she's being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange's eternal life - Lucy and Solange's brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black - in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover's heart.

Even fans of the genre who've seen it all will find a fresh read with kick-butt characters and family dynamics that ring true for all brothers and sisters - vampire or otherwise. (from Fantastic Fiction)

My, oh my, it can't be another vampire book, can it? Well, it is. Normally I should be sick of vampires by now, but when I find a well-written and interesting book, well vampires become very interesting creatures again. Hearts at Stake tries its hand at some original vampire lore. In this novel, people can be turned into vampires, but they can also be born, which is the case with Solange. She and her seven brothers were human until their sixteenth birthdays (always the catalyst for supernatural events) when they undergo the bloodchange and become vampires. Soon they start craving blood, sleep all day and can't be out in the sunlight, like traditional vampires. Solange is on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday and is dreading the change because it can be very dangerous.

Meanwhile, royal intrigue abounds, because Solange is part of a vampire dynasty and as the first female vamp to be born in centuries, she's right in line to be princess. There's also the vampire hunters that are looking for the Drakes and suitors from all over the world that would come with being Solange's husband.

There's a lot of stuff happening in Hearts at Stake, which keeps the story fresh and action-packed. There's never a dull moment for Solange and Lucy, between whom points-of-view switch every chapter. Each also has a new romance; there's Lucy and Solange's brother Nicholas and Solange and vampire-hunter Kieran Black. I though Lucy and Nicholas's relationship was a little more convincing as it got more page time, but I think Kieran and Solange should be interesting in the next two books.

Since there was so much going on, things got a little confusing at time but I still thoroughly enjoyed Hearts at Stake. I can't wait to read the sequel, Blood Feud.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2009/Walker Books for Young Readers/256 pages

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