Review Blog

Jan 30 2012

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

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Penguin, 2012. ISBN 9780143566113.
(Ages: 15+) Recommended. In the sequel to Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Jessica and Lucius are married (read about the wedding here) and living in his castle in Romania. But life is not necessarily 'happily ever after'. Now known as Princess Antanasia, Jessica is bewildered by the language, customs and expectations of her new family and is increasingly worried that she will not be able to fulfil her role as princess and future queen of the vampire clans. After all she is still a teenager, raised by her vegetarian, animal loving adoptive parents in Pennsylvania, that finds herself the co-ruler of a traditional, feudal and very conservative society. When Lucius is arrested and imprisoned for his alleged role in the murder of his uncle, it is up to Jessica to clear his name. Increasingly plagued and debilitated by vivid hallucinations and dreams, and not knowing whom to trust, she enlists the aid of her American best friend Mindy and Lucius's Italian, peace-loving surfie cousin, Raniero, to help find the real culprit.
The story is told in alternating chapters with Jessica, Lucius, Raniero and Mindy sharing the narrative. I particularly enjoyed Lucius and Raniero's droll correspondence, and the intrepid Mindy with her trusty suitcase full of styling products. The atmosphere is supplied by huge castles, secret tunnels, forbidding pine forests, cemeteries at midnight and the warring vampire families strident calls for revenge.
Jessica's Guide to dating on the dark side is a very popular book amongst our students, and I must admit I enjoyed that book very much - a fresh twist on the vampire/romance genre. This new book does not disappoint and is a very satisfying sequel. Whilst there are secrets to expose and a murder mystery to unravel, this is really a story about the importance of love and friendship, believing in yourself and learning to appreciate people for whom they are; all while trying to prevent the fragile peace between two vampire families descending into a literal blood bath!
A very enjoyable read with darkness, danger and a sly sense of humour that also hits all the right romance buttons.
Great fun for teenage girls.
Alicia Papp

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