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Move Over, Anne Rice
Anne Rice may be the current queen of goth, but a rising newcomer named Amelia Atwater-Rhodes could soon accede to the throne. And that accomplishment will be all the more remarkable when you consider that this young author's first book, In the Forests of the Night, was written when she was only 13 years old. Now, at the ripe old age of 15, she has penned the sequel and proven her talent. Between the vampiric theme and the age of both the author and the characters, Atwater-Rhodes's books are a shoo-in with the teenage and young-adult crowds. And for those who think their tastes tend to run a bit "older," this prodigy's work shouldn't be tossed aside. It might provide a few pleasant surprises.
Jessica Allodola, much like the author who created her, is a high school student and published novelist. But Jessica's literary bent remains unknown, since her highly popular vampire tales are published under the pseudonym Ash Night. It's just as well: Jessica's classmates tend to shun her, poke fun at her, and talk about her behind her back, even while they're buying her books in droves. There is something about Jessica that just naturally makes people want to turn away. It's not her looks -- her dark hair, green eyes, and lithe body make an attractive package. No, it's something else, something indefinable but palpable.
For the most part, Jessica has come to terms with her lot in life. Though she tends to be defensively antagonistic at times, in general she just keeps to herself. Even her adoptive mother can't break the barriers Jessica has built around herself. But then two new students show up at her high school, and interest in Jessica is suddenly running high. The first new student is Caryn Rashida, a young woman whose interest in Jessica isn't quite what it seems. The second new student is far more disturbing, at least to Jessica. His name is Alex Remington, and he's devilishly handsome and so charming that all the girls seem to be swooning. But he has his eye set on Jessica, who finds him very attractive but disturbingly similar to one of the main characters in her novel, a young vampire named Aubrey.
As Alex and Jessica cross paths with a frequency that is more than coincidental, Jessica begins to note other similarities between Alex and Aubrey; certain traits that only she is aware of because they are included in her latest manuscript, a manuscript no one has read but her. She begins to wonder if the story in her vampire novel is somehow coming true. As Jessica explores the ever-blurring lines between fiction and reality, things take a decidedly violent and dark turn. When Jessica finally learns the real truth, she will be forced to make some difficult decisions that may well end her life.
Atwater-Rhodes has crafted a fantasy world that may not be totally original, but it does have all the necessary appeal for this young author's audience. And there is enough creativity here to whet the appetites of older readers as well. Atwater-Rhodes's writing is strong and well crafted, her story and characters engaging. There is no doubt that this is a remarkable young talent who will bear watching in the future. If her writing matures as she does, this novelist will likely have a career as long-lived as some of her eternally gifted characters.