A Shade of Vampire review

A Shade of Vampire
By Bella Forrest
Published December 2012

GoodReads Summary:

On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.
A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.
She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.
Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.
Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.
Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

Ericka's Take:

I was particularly nervous about reviewing this book because the author offered to do a mini interview after I was finished reading it.  What if I did not like the book and then she read my review?!  Who am I to tell someone their book sucks?!

Fortunately, I do not have to do that.

I tried not to let the fact that she will read this color my review.  Honestly, I genuinely enjoyed the book, though I do have a few pieces of constructive criticism.  We will get there though, let's start with my likes. 

I really like that this is a different twist.  Yes, there is still the whole girl-meets-ancient-undead-cue-googly-eyes thing going on.  However, the whole abduction thing is new, and the fact that not all of these vampires are "nice" is refreshing.  I think the author does a good job playing into the vampire's lack of humanity, and I would love to see her amp that up even more.  She mentions several times that Derek (king vampire hottie) fears losing what little humanity he has left.  Derek shows some signs of falling prey to immortality, as it were, but I would like to see even more.

Another part I enjoyed about the book is the format.  The chapters bounce back and forth between Derek and Sofia, which allows us to see both perspectives.  Often we see teen vamp lit from the perspective of the simpering female only, without really delving into what the guy is going through.    

I am very intrigued by Sofia, the main character.  And I guess here is where I will start getting into my constructive criticism...  (Sorry!)  As you can see in the interview below, the author intended Sofia to be extremely empathetic.  This is a good character trait for her, because it allows her to have a deeper understanding of Derek and what he is going through.  However, Sofia does not often show the "terror" suggested in the summary above.  During her abduction and first few days at the Shade, she seems to handle it all quite swimmingly, and she comes across (in my opinion) as a bit disconnected from it all, despite all of her supposed empathetic prowess.  Later in the book, one of the "evil" vampires leaves her a "present", and it is there that Sofia finally breaks down and begins to absorb what is happening to her and what could happen should she lose Derek's protection.  I appreciated that, because sometimes she seemed more the preternatural vampire than Derek.  The author mentions that this particular character trait will come into play much further in the second book, so I am curious to see where that goes.

And now might be a good time to mention that, despite any criticism, I definitely want to read the next book.

Two nights in a row...  I went up to my bedroom, sat on my bed, turned on my ipad, and opened up ibooks with the anticipation of reading more about this story...  Only to then remember I finished it already.  DARN IT!  And perhaps that is another criticism - it is pretty short.  At 147 pages, I think it only ended up being 90-some on my ipad, and I flew through it.  However, I think that really shows that this is a well-written and interesting story. 

One other thing I feel the urge to mention:  language.  Oh, no, not bad language...  but I wish the author had given Derek an older voice.  He was supposed to be asleep for 400 years, and while it is fun that Sofia is showing him the ropes of the new millennium, I feel like it would have helped his character (and his lack of humanity) by utilizing older speech patterns.  

Sofia also uses interesting internal monologue language, which might cause your average pre-teen to need a dictionary once in awhile.  I applaud that, of course, but there was a moment that really stuck out to me as incongruous to Sofia:  she says "freaking liar".  That term, so now, so young, seems so out of place with the way she has been "speaking" (in her head).  Because the book is so smooth and consistent with the language patterns, that little bit really made me pause, so I had to say something.  Yet, it is probably one of the only places in the story where you think, "Oh, yeah, she IS just 17." 

Anyway, I really did enjoy this book, and I think the author did a nice job of not using today's modern vampire too much.  Yes, Derek is that brooding vampire with a heart of gold and the weight of Big Problems on his shoulders, but other vampires are kind of mean and aloof and completely ego-centric...  more like vampires should be!  I would love to see her develop that more and really flesh out the nasty undead world that she seems to be leaning towards.  

I think this is definitely worth a read and I really enjoyed it.  A Shade of Vampire has more bite (HA!  I could not resist!) than a lot of other vampire novels and it is most certainly better-written than the majority of them.  I want to see where the story goes, and I look forward to book 2!

p.s. The author recently unveiled the newer cover to the book (which you can see above).  I like it stylistically, but Sophia is described in the book as being a red-head, so I think I would have preferred that to be reflected in the cover.  Actually, though, the cover looks more like what I would imagine Sophia to be than a red-head...  thoughts?

Interview with author Bella Forrest!
Ericka's QuestionBella's Response
A Shade of Vampire definitely has a different spin than most "teen vampire lit".  How did you come up with the idea of the Shade?

The idea came to me pretty spontaneously. I wanted to create a cool world that was fresh and had never been done before. The Shade just formed in my head during a brainstorming session. I love tall trees, so that's where the redwoods came from :)

One of the lead characters has a very specific (and rare?) disorder, which is revealed towards the end of the book.  Where did the inspiration come from to make this part of your character?
I can't go into much detail in answering this question without revealing spoilers for the next book, but basically I wanted Sofia to be a very empathic, perceptive character and I realized this disorder would fit well with her nature.

What are your plans for expanding the series?

I'm currently working on the sequel to A Shade of Vampire. At the moment I'm not sure exactly how many books will be in this series.
The jacket of the book mentions that you have been creating stories since you were small.  Did you ever have formal training?  What advice would you give to someone who wanted to begin writing?

Other than creative writing classes at school, I did not have formal training.
I don't believe there are any real rules for writing fiction. I advise people to just get into the habit of writing as much as they can.

And, just for fun, what is your favorite cereal and why?

Probably muesli. It's healthy and filling!

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