August 19, 2012

Bleeding Hearts

by Alyxandra Harvey
Bloomsbury US
304 pp.
Ages 14-17

Bleeding Hearts, the fourth book in Alyxandra Harvey's vampire series The Drake Chronicles, introduces a new character to Violet Hill - Christabel, Lucy's cousin who has come to stay with them while her mom is in rehab for alcoholism. Lucy appreciates her cousin's company (even if Christabel is content to just read), especially when she's barely seen her best friend Solange, a newly-turned vampire, in over a month. Even Solange's boyfriend, Kieran, a Helios Ra vampire hunter, is concerned about Solange's odd behaviour.  Luckily, Lucy is still dating Solange's brother, Nicholas Drake, and is training with Hunter Wild, a student at the Helios Ra Academy and girlfriend of Quinn Drake, Nicholas' older brother, so she knows what's going on around Violet Hill.

And what's going on around Violet Hill is that it's no longer a quiet and safe community.  The dark, blue-skinned Hel Blar continue their nasty attacks, although many seem to be wearing copper collars and responding to a whistle summons now.  But, with a Blood Moon gathering scheduled, vampires, including a few articulate light-skinned Hel Blar, from around the world are converging on Violet Hill.

Although Lucy's parents have imposed an incredibly early curfew on the girls if they are unescorted, to keep them safe from the increased Hel Blar attacks, Christabel knows nothing of the paranormal activity and is convinced that she's street-wise enough to take care of herself. That's how she first encounters Connor Drake, Quinn's more modest twin, as she sneaks out for a walk.  There's obviously some subtle chemistry between them, but Christabel doesn't know he's a vampire.  That is, until she is kidnapped by the light-skinned Hel Blar, called Na-Foir, who believe she is Lucy and she can't explain away all the weirdness she sees.  Luckily, Connor has become familiar with Christabel's scent (how romantic!) and gets involved in her rescue, but not before he has to reveal his vampire-ness to her, negotiate with a Wendat and a pirate Na-Foir, and fight more nasty Hel Blar.

The requisite romance, Christabel and Connor's, will please teen readers of The Drake Chronicles, especially as both characters demonstrate an endearing modesty and the awkwardness of the first serious relationship.  But, by introducing Aidan and Saga as representatives of the new sub-species (I'm not sure if that is correct taxonomically), the Na-Foir, and Christabel who leaps from the naive human to something which you will need to read the book to learn, Alyxandra Harvey has enriched the series.  The impending Blood Moon gathering (and Book #5 in the series) is sure to create more conflicts from the developments in Bleeding Hearts, particularly as there may be every reason to believe that not all the romantic pairings will survive.

Alas, if there ever was a single-word sentence to end a book that could leave the reader dangling over a crevasse of trepidation, Bleeding Hearts has it.  Luckily, Blood Moon was released in June.

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