Review Blog

Jan 11 2010

The Society of S by Susan Hubbard

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Walker Books, 2009. ISBN 9781406314977.
(Ages: Secondary) Ari lives alone with her widowed father in a Victorian house set away from the town. There she is home schooled in the morning, and left to her studies in the afternoon when her father retreats to the basement to continue his work with blood samples. When their housekeeper suggest that Ari is too isolated, she is given permission to take the girl into her home, where she meets her two children, Kathleen, a girl of Ari's age, and Michael, several years older. Through these two Ari learns more of the outside world. Both teens are stretching the boundaries imposed by their family, and when Kathleen takes Ari to her meetings with her friends, where they play at being vampires, Ari feels odd. One night, after Ari goes home because she feels ill, she is shocked to find that Kathleen has been murdered, and when the police interview Ari and her father, she realises that suspicion is falling on them.
Eventually Ari's father explains that yes, he is a vampire, and suggests that she too, may be headed that way. The Green Cross van that comes to the house every week, brings blood for him, as he and his group, do not kill for blood, taking vitamin supplements and blood from the mortuary. She wants her mother, and goes off to search for her, pursuing the vague clues left by others in the household. Her quest leads her to Florida, where she finds that things are not as they have been described.
Full of Gothic romance and horror, The Society of S will have wide appeal to those lower secondary girls taken up with the idea of vampires and lonely teenage girls growing up without a mother. Odd house servants, strange happenings, a father with heroic looks, a mother no one mentions, suspicions about a dead cat and then a murder along with blood samples brought to the door, all have an airing in this scary tale. But it is not the vampire tale of old. When Ari's father finally tells her who and what she is, the stress all the time is about controlling the urges and taking precautions against killing. The vampires in this story must choose.
Fran Knight

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