Hearts at Stake
Walker Books for Young Readers
December 22, 2009
Amazon info/buy page
Solange's life is miserable not only because she's the only girl in a family with seven overprotective brothers, but she's also the only girl (in nearly 800 years) in her family of vampires.
And her sixteenth birthday when she'll turn from a mortal to a vampire is coming up. Along with the stress she would otherwise feel with that transition coming up, there's a legend attached to Solange that she will be queen and pheromones she's emitting that are attracting ever male vampire anywhere to her.
The lovesick, often cheesy males are a problem, but the attention they're likely to attract from vampire hunters could be even more of a problem.
All of this is not to forget that the current queen hates Solange for the threat she presents--no matter Solange doesn't want to be queen at all.
Solange's brothers are being even more overprotective than usual, but at least Solange has her best friend Lucy to help keep her sane. Lucy and her family aren't vampires but they know about Solange's family and Lucy looks more like a vampire than Solange usually (with a her red velvet dresses, etc).
Soon, with Lucy staying at Solange's home while her parents are on a retreat danger threatens and it's up to the girls, the brothers and a few others to save Solange!
This was a massively enjoyable book and I am so, so glad it is a series. I loved that there girls in this book were strong characters and weren't easily pushed around. There were vampire hunters like in some other teen vampire books and the danger that comes with them but a lot of the story was focused on Solange and Lucy (and some boys for them!) and their friendship and relationships. The family relationships were strong, too and also an integral part of the story.
This was not simply a love story that focused only on two characters and the progression of their romantic relationship, but instead had romantic relationships woven into the plot. (There was a romantic relationship that I'm almost desperately hoping shows up in one of the later books in the series, too so I would say the method worked.)
The hierarchy of the vampire culture in The Drake Chronicles first book was set up very well and I'm really looking forward to seeing how new characters are pulled into this world (the second book of the series, at least, involves some different characters).
There was enough similarity in the vampire lore to make reading Hearts at Stake fun and enjoyable but enough that was unique to make it still very interesting and worthwhile.
I loved that so many characters were used in this book--but not in a superfluous way. They added to the story and were brought back later to be involved in some other way.
I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in this series (and the others as well.) This was a great change of pace from the other teen vampire books that are so focused on the romance between two characters, having both the familial relationship and the friendship between Lucy and Solange was great.
Book 1: Hearts at Stake
Book 2: Blood Feud (out now-review soon I hope)
Book 3: Out for Blood (out December 21, 2010)