“Vampire Academy” by Richelle Mead

Another series of YA vampire books, this time centred around a school of vampires and their part human bodyguards. Rose is a Dhampir, a sort of guardian for her best friend (and vampire royal princess) Lissa. At the start of the book, the girls are in hiding after running away from their school, St Vladimir’s Academy. They soon find themselves cornered and returned back to school, where they are socially ostracised and must find a way to stick together and keep themselves alive.

As is the case with most of these type of books, I enjoyed it as a mildly diverting sunny afternoon read and will probably carry on with the series.

There were, however, a couple of things I found particularly irritating. The first was the names given to the various races, families and even characters at times, which I found incredibly difficult to pronounce, even in my head. Whilst I understand that authors want to make their work original, and particularly in the fantasy arena, it is fun to come up with new words and names, I felt the ones in this book were just a series of letters thrown together at times. The best “made-up” names are often derived from other languages (e.g. latin, greek or norse are common amongst this genre), but the ones this author used were either too much of a mixture of languages, or just plain thrown together letters. Usually when I come across a name I find difficult to pronounce in a book, I substitute it for another word, or read it slightly differently to the spelling as it’s only in my head anyway, but for this book, there were just a few too many names that made this jar every time I read them.

The other irritation was that I often felt there were too many less than subtle hints at what should be clues to some of the events or revelations that happen over the course of the story. I like that authors leave clues and subtle pointers as to what might have happened that will be revealed or foreshadowing events that occur later in the story, but in this book, I often felt there should have been a big pop-up sign hanging over a paragraph saying “Oi! Over here, look here, this is a BIG clue!”

Despite these grumbles (which are actually quite minor really), the book was entertaining enough, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy more, or necessarily encourage anyone to read them, unless you’re already a fan of the genre and desperate to read more.

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