Razorbill/Penguin, August 23 2011, $18.99
Four Alchemists arrive at the home of Sydney, her parents and her sister Zoe. Sydney assumes they will send her to a reeducation center for her assistance to Rose Hathaway the dhampir (see the Vampire Academy series). Instead they want Zoe, but her dad says his frightened youngest is not ready to protect other humans from vampires. He suggests Sydney instead. Reluctantly they agree so with a warning they will assign teenaged Sydney to protect Moroi vampire Queen Lissa Dragomir's half-sister Jill from an assassin. The plan is to hide the princess at Amberwood Prep, a Palm Springs, California exclusive school for humans while Sydney poses as Jill’s older sister.
Sydney knows this will not be an easy assignment as she has been indoctrinated with the belief that vampires are predatory monsters though her work has her dividing the undead into two sub-species, the evil Strigoi and the Moroi. The safe school includes sleazy Keith who blames Sydney for his troubles and her friend Adrian who helps her though she has a different kind of help in mind. She finds the prep school has unsafe secrets.
The start of a related to the Vampire Academy new series, Bloodlines is an engaging urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine who keeps the exciting story line focused. Sydney accepts a job she does not want to protect her sister and to gain fatherly approval while hoping to get out of trouble with the Alchemist hierarchy. Besides the fun of crossovers like Adrian, Sydney brings freshness with her personality so different from the extroverted VA protagonists. Although this reviewer has a problem with teenage females dieting to size zero to obtain approval from family and friends, readers will enjoy Sydney’s Palm Springs adventures. Harriet Klausner
Jeanne C. Stein
Ace, Aug 30 2011, $7.99
In Mission Beach, SDPD Detective Harris visits Anna Strong over odd anomalies involving two hundred year old DNA found in the fiery death of his late boss Warren Williams. She knows she is the “Chosen One” (see Retribution). However, she needs a little time to accept her destiny and grieve the loss of her mentor and the betrayal of her late lover. However, the battle against Chael the vampire is still on as the ancient one challenges her position as he believes vampires belong at the top of the food chain not roaches scurrying for food.
Anna’s former human lover Drug Enforcement Agent Max asks for her help to end the murderous terror of a rogue vampire. This Undead transports people across the Mexican border, but once stateside he drains the blood from his human cargo. Her partner David has found out some information about his lost weekend that Anna would prefer he not remember. Anna confronts Chael who implies he knows how she can return to being human, her fondest desire. To do so Anna must locate a Navajo shaman living as a hermit on a reservation. Chael also makes Anna realize he knows shapeshifter Daniel Frey has a young son that Anna fears the vampire or something else will target.
This is an enjoyable Anna Strong, Vampire urban fantasy as the heroine’s life keeps getting increasingly complicated. Besides dealing with vampires like Chael, the human trafficker and the late chief’s wife, she also has issues with humans like Harris and David. However, this is nothing compared to what awaits the hero on the Navaho Nation. Harriet Klausner
Roc, Sep 6 2011, $7.99
Blood Lord Lucius orders the “soulless” wraith he raised as an assassin to kill human sunmage Simon DuCaine. Lily goes after Simon, but he defeats her. Instead of killing Lily, Simon lets her live though he is not being altruistic.
He and his Templar knight brother believe Lily is the proof that Lucius broke the City’s treaty signed by the Blood Lords, Beast Kind, the Fae and the Humans. He pleads with his captive to testify against the master who raised her. He is attracted to the “Nightseeking whore” who glides like a shadow between worlds. She believes joining him in the light is impossible though she is falling in love with the mage who showed her mercy though she knows he condemned her as being like his sister Edwina.
The Shadow Kin political fantasy is a fabulous tale as the world of Scott comes vividly alive through the competing machinations between the prime groups. Blood Lords and the Beast Kind rule the Night World; while Fae and human mages guard the rest of the Half Light City. Fast-paced from the onset, fans will relish this strong thriller though the romance never quite gels with the pasts of the two protagonists except when they curse at each other. Harriet Klausner