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Book review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

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While we're waiting for Twilight Eclipse, here are some more teen vampire adventures to fill the dark void...

Kiss Of Death by Rachel Caine

This Monday sees the release of Rachel Caine's Kiss of Death,  the eagerly-awaited eighth instalment of her 'Morganville' Vampire series. The series has sold over 100,000 copies in the UK alone, which is not surprising given the current influx of 'fanpires' that have emerged in the wake of the Twilight phenomenon. Kiss of Death sees teenagers Clare, Eve, Shane and Michael return for their biggest adventure yet; a road trip taking them out of their shared house in Morganville.  A town which just happens to be run by vampires.

Caine's prose reads a little like fanfiction in itself. I found the repeat mentions of tacos, ice cream and cookies were too numerous to strike appropriate fear in my heart; creatures of the night are supposed to relish human blood, gosh darn it.  The plot is emotionally-charged, and romantic exchanges between characters can be sickly sweet at times.  The author's use of ellipsis to show when characters are searching for a word is also overdone, crossing over into the narrative on the majority of pages:  ...It felt... breathtakingly good...Her dad was... normal...They just...drove away.

...Is this...necessary, I find myself wondering?

As with many young adult fantasy novels, Twilight is an unavoidable comparison.  Kiss of Death has its compulsory dead boyfriend, though he somewhat refreshingly lacks sparkles.  There are no werewolves, but there are Good Vampires and Bad Vampires, and Caine shows effectively that people are not so easily categorised.

I'm not going to write Kiss of Death off as another vampire book that sucks (!) because that would be a misrepresentation.  For a novel that opens with the protagonist doing laundry, there are some genuine moments of real tension.  The comedic moments provide harsh relief from some pretty gritty plot twists.  You find yourself growing increasingly nervous for the central characters, who are both likeable and engaging.

If you have already read books one through seven of the Morganville Vampire series, you'll be sure to enjoy this new addition.  Caine is no Anne Rice, but Kiss of Death offers an easy summer read and her books look suitably gothy on a bookshelf alongside others of the same canon.

Caine will be touring the UK 28 May - 24 June to promote her series.  And as news would have it, she is currently negotiating a deal with Charles Amitage (Red Dwarf) regarding a film adaptation.  If that's not enough to appease your vampiric thirst, Twilight 'Eclipse' hits cinemas in July.

3 stars

Kiss Of Death is released in the UK on 3rd of May 2010


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