Hello bloggers, writers, friends and readers,
As you know I’ve been pretty much engrossed in the world of Wattpad for some time now, much to the chagrin of my poor neglected WordPress blog and so recently I decided that the best way to combat this was to combine the two. Why not bring some of the wonders of Wattpad over here and review some of my favourite stories?
I’ve lost count recently of how many times I’ve been told by my readers that they had become disillusioned with vampire fiction, mostly due to those sparkly fangsters and the subsequent saturation of the market that followed with writers churning out glossy vamp slush in a bid to emulate Meyer’s success. Many readers have said how refreshing it has been to finally read vamp stories that have a bit of bite about them (sorry, couldn’t resist). But I have to admit, this leaves me feeling slightly dismayed, because when you start to say how refreshing you find stories that focus on the original idea of vampires as dark works of horror, you realise that maybe something has gone very awry with people’s perception of vampire fiction.
Readers are expecting glitter, romance and a touch of piano-playing. They’re no longing anticipating blood, gore and a touch of the heebie-jeebies.
Well, in answer to that, I give you Bleeder, the first novel in the Blood Magic Saga by Canadian author Monica Keubler. Monica, by day the managing editor of horror magazine Rue Morgue and by night the mighty dark goddess of the pen, knows a thing or two about blood, gore and the heebie-jeebies. In fact, she’s an expert on all three and what’s more is that she’s definitely not scared to prove that horror does have a place in the Young Adult market. Yeah, teens like horror, who knew? And whether you’re a teen or an adult who loves YA, I will guarantee that Bleeder will restore your faith in vampire fiction.
Readers, meet Mildred Millhattan. Or Mills to her friend, of which she doesn’t have many admittedly. Mills is a slightly awkward, almost-sixteen year old, who might be invisible to most of her classmates, but actually turns out to be part of an underground world that isn’t just invisible to her peers, it’s unbelievable too. It’s a world of myth, fantasy, sorcery and the supernatural and Mills is about to be thrown right into the middle of it in spectacular and bloodied fashion.
Pulled out of school abruptly by her parents one day during an algebra exam, Mills is taken to a remote cabin in the Nevada desert and discovers that not only have they lied to her about this spontaneous road trip, but they’ve been lying to her for her whole life. Heartbroken and lost, Mills is struggling to deal with her world crashing down around her ears when strangers descend on the cabin and life suddenly gets a hell of a lot darker.
Now is is where it gets really interesting. Forget what you think you know about vampires in YA novels. Think unrelentingly cruel. Think brutality to the point you will grimace. Think monsters with long nails, sunken cheekbones and an insatiable desire for blood. Think about the stuff of nightmares who keep their victims shackled in caged cells so they can feed on them…again and again and again. And we haven’t even touched on the King of the Nosferatu himself yet. Over seven feet tall, burning red eyes and draped in a cape decorated with human bones, YA hasn’t ever seen the like of this type of monster before, trust me.
Locked up in her torture chamber, Mills discovers that not only is her blood – the blood of a sorcerer – a much-desired delicacy, she is about to become a bleeder to the King himself. And if you thought the vampires were unrelenting, then Monica herself is (thankfully) unrelenting in her description of Mills’ torment as she is fed upon by the King until she’s nothing but a glorified pin-cushion who is starting to give up the fight. It’s beautifully gruesome, horribly cruel and wonderfully captivating because she dares to go where others who write YA often fear to tread.
Just when we start to think Mills has lost all hope, she acquires a new visitor to her cell, a vampire unlike all the others she has had the misfortune to meet so far.
Keel is the skinny teenage son of the King, who is yet to go through his transformation into Nosferatu but who is still a vampire nevertheless. Drawn to Mills’ cell out of boyish curiosity, Keel begins to secretly visit Mills and the two form an uneasy relationship, and surprisingly the vampire prince becomes Mills’ only chink of light in an unfathomable darkness.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Keel is about to become your archetypal YA hero. When we first meet Keel, there’s a touch of immaturity and arrogance about him (well he is destined to be King one day) and he definitely doesn’t know the meaning of personal space, in fact his matter-of-fact insistence on feeding from Mills borders on downright sinister. But as the story progress we get to see his rebellious nature and his strength and we come to realise that while he is undoubtedly a vampire, there’s far more to Keel than we are first led to believe.
Together they discover that their growing bond has less to do with two natural enemies who happen to harbour a strange fascination for each other, but something far deeper than either of them could ever imagine, something that will change both their worlds forever and set them apart from their own kind in a way that leaves them struggling to work out where they do really belong.
All in all, Monica gives us a captivating discourse on friendship, loneliness and trust, all set against the most wickedly dark backdrop. It’s a world painted vividly in all its gruesome splendour, with characters who constantly surprise the reader and leave us wondering just who can be counted on and who cannot. The history between the Nosferatu and the sorcerers is detailed and interesting which allows for a really fresh take on the vampire myth, while sticking to the more traditional roots of the vampire as the monster. The relationship between our main protagonists is addictive and it’s very hard not to root for these two fabulously intriguing characters.
Bleeder is truly a compelling read and whether you’re a teen looking for something a little darker, a little grittier and a little bloodier than the norm, or you’re an adult who loves reading YA but prefers a horror twist, then this is absolutely the book for you.
Five out of five blood-splattered stars!
Please do go check out Bleeder here on Wattpad: