Reviewed November 13, 2011.
Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2011. 386 pages.
I normally am not much of a fan of vampire books. In fact, I enjoyed the Twilight series because it didn't read like a vampire book at all. I almost quit on this book after the first two chapters, but I like Sarah Beth Durst's writing so much, I decided to persevere. I was glad I did!
In the world of Drink, Slay, Love vampires are not sparkly and nice. They have the traditional features of not having reflections, hating holy water, and combusting if they are exposed to sunlight. Pearl and her Family do hide from humans in their mansion with underground catacombs. But at night they go out and feed. It turns out that vampire venom causes wounds to heal quickly and also causes humans to forget. So they can prey on the same humans often, and no one is the wiser.
Pearl's Family has been selected to host an upcoming Fealty Ceremony for the King of New England, so they need to prepare a large feast. But soon after they get the news, Pearl gets stabbed by a unicorn.
Her Family doesn't believe her. Of course unicorns don't exist. They think some slayer came after her. But then Pearl discovers that now she can walk around in daylight. Her family is appalled, but they think of a way they can use this turn of events.
"You will solve a problem for us," Mother said. She began to smile too. This was more alarming than Daddy's smile. Pearl wasn't sure she had ever seen Mother's face curve into a smile. It looked unnatural, as if the porcelain-doll face had cracked. Her eyes didn't change. Only her lips curved.
"Oh?" Pearl said. "Wonderful."
"For the Fealty Ceremony, we need to supply enough humans for the king and his guards to quench their thirst. However, obtaining the dozen humans needed with our current hunting grounds is problematic at best and extremely risky at worst," Daddy said. "One or two at a time can always be managed, but that many at once . . ."
Mother chimed in, "Our hope is that with this new development, new opportunities will present themselves."
"You want me to find the king's dinner in daylight?" Pearl guessed.
"Precisely," Mother said.
Daddy smiled. "We want you to attend high school."
However, Pearl is changing. Could she be developing a conscience? And she's actually beginning to make friends. Can she really give them up for the king's feast? But if she doesn't, her Family will kill her.
I ended up enjoying this book very much indeed. I did laugh when an element came up that I've found in Sarah Beth Durst's other books, Ice and Enchanted Ivy. It's an element I really enjoy, though. This time there's a rather major plot point involved, so I won't give it away. People who are up on unicorn terminology (for example those who have read Diana Peterfreund's Rampant) may suspect, but they'll still enjoy it when all is revealed.
Sarah Beth Durst knows how to write fun books. Enchanted Ivy was good-hearted fun playing off the gargoyles of Princeton. This book has good-hearted fun playing off all the traditional vampire (and unicorn) tropes. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it was a vampire story.