Smith's latest revisits the dark alternate world of Tantalize (2007) with a new set of characters. Despite the efforts of Zachary, her guardian angel, Dallas teenager Miranda joins the ranks of the undead as an "eternal" (vampire), courtesy of the current Dracula, their aristocratic ruler. A year passes, and as Dracula's pursuit of power begins to affect his sanity, Miranda struggles to acclimate to her new regal life in Dracula's castle (in Chicago). Meanwhile, Zachary has been cast from heaven for revealing his angelic nature while trying to save Miranda, so he poses as a human-and Miranda's personal assistant-trying to save her. Smith balances the story's bloody details with frequent touches of humor (when Zachary is taken aback by Miranda's enormous SUV, she replies, "We're eternals.... We are evil. We are not fuel efficient"). The confessional style, alternating between Miranda and Zachary's points of view, is intriguing as a diary-readers should be hooked by this fully formed world, up through the action-packed finale. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Stephanie R. Pearmain
Eternal is narrated by both the protagonist16-year-old Miranda, an insecure teen girl who aspires to dramatic success on the stage even though her talent is mediocre, and her guardian angel (GA), Zachary, who we find out is a gorgeous and perfectly muscled being who has looked after Miranda her whole life. Miranda's best friend, Lucy, is more confident, gregarious, and daring. She also has a thing for scary movies and, coincidentally, the cute guy named Kurt who works at the video store. By page twenty, Miranda and Lucy have agreed to meet Kurt, who turns out to be a vampire, and his friends at eleven P.M. in the local cemetery to have some fun and "a real-life adventure." Zachary watches all of this, knowing Lucy is leading "his girl" into trouble. Realizing Miranda is about to fall into a freshly dug grave and probable death, Zachary breaks the rules of the universe by stretching his wings to shine some heavenly light and attempts to save Miranda from falling. Zachary is then scolded by the archangel Michael, stripped of his wings, and left to wander the earth as a human. After saving Lucy, he delves into drunken behavior with girls that look like Miranda, who he was unable to save, as he wanders aimlessly. Two pages are then dedicated to a blog, "Missing Miranda," set up by Lucy two weeks after the cemetery event. Then the book returns to Miranda's narration, as she wakes up to a male voice calling her "Sugar." This man, who turns out to be Dracula, the leader of the Eternals, announces that he has turned her into a princess of the Eternal aristocracy. She is now to call him "Father" and her new residence is a vast castle in Chicago. Another two pages of the blog tell thereader that it has been a year since Miranda disappeared. Miranda begins to narrate again; she is now well indoctrinated into the world of Eternals where there is a lot of gossip, glitter, and their own group of paparazzi. The world of Eternals is "all about maintaining appearances." Miranda is, of course, now beautiful, rich, and working toward becoming powerful. It just so happens that she needs a personal assistant. Zachary fills the position; his new mission from the angels involves assisting in the take down of the Dracula. The first hundred pages of this novel left me wanting more substance, primarily a stronger plot and more character development. It is well over halfway through the book before Miranda misses anything about her life or family. In fact, she mentions missing her gerbil before anything else. Since there are only about twenty pages of introduction to Miranda before she becomes a vampire, there is not much to draw the reader into liking her character. Likewise, the next 80 to 100 pages contain too much of the glitz, castle, and superficial Miranda, so it becomes a bit tedious. I was hoping for more of her personality. The second half of the book moves a bit faster, as Miranda and Zachary fulfill their destinies. Some of the references to other pieces of literature are fun, and the bantering conversations keep the story moving quickly. This book is recommended as a very light read. Reviewer: Stephanie R. Pearmain
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–This dark romance is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of 17-year-old Miranda and her guardian angel, Zachary, in an alternate America in which vampires and werewolves exist. Early in the novel, Zachary falls from grace as punishment for materializing in his full radiance in a failed attempt to save Miranda from being bitten by a vampire. The tale resumes a year later with the now-vampire Miranda a revered princess living among vampire royalty and feasting regularly on humans. Zachary, meanwhile, has sunk into a life of aimless debauchery and is resigned to never regaining his wings when an archangel suddenly gives him the opportunity to become Miranda’s personal assistant. Determined to save his former ward, with whom he has fallen in love, Zachary takes the job. Miranda finds herself drawn to him, and the murders she has carelessly committed begin to weigh on her conscience. With his help, she is determined to find a way to redeem herself and help him return to grace. The plot is occasionally choppy and frequently grisly, and the dialogue seems forced in places. Neither Miranda nor Zachary is particularly likable, and the ending, while logical, is not one that romance fans will favor. The story lacks the elegance of Stephenie Meyer’s hugely popular novels, but serious vampire buffs will undoubtedly add the novel to their must-read list.–Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD
Plain Miranda ascends to the rank of vampire princess in this imaginative but somewhat underdeveloped horror-comedy. Revisiting the same world in which bloodsuckers and animal shape-shifters exist alongside and in full view of mortals that was the setting of Smith's 2007 novel Tantalize, the locale has changed from Austin to Chicago. Additionally, guardian angels become part of the cast, providing a rather sardonic love interest for this offering's protagonist in the form of Zachary, who falls from grace while attempting to rescue Miranda from a vampire attacker. In order to save her and himself, he infiltrates the house of Dracul, where Miranda now lives as an unwitting accomplice to the head vampire's grisly schemes. Focusing on the aesthetics of the castle and on the A-list monster world that Miranda now inhabits, Smith falters a bit as she increasingly relies on descriptions of the setting and campy dialogue instead of fleshing out her characters. Still, the pace of this entertaining romp is quick and the action plentiful-a painless, if not particularly memorable, read. (Horror. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
"Revisits the dark alternate world of Tantalize with a new set of characters. . . . Readers should be hooked . . . up through the action-packed finale." — Publishers Weekly
Read an Excerpt
I MAY BE HEAVEN-SENT, but I'm not perfect.
I watch my girl slip the oversize Dallas Cowboys T-shirt over her pink bikini panties and turn in for the night.
That sounds perverted, I know. But I've always watched her dress, undress, shower, and bathe.
Then there was that one blessed weekend last August when the air conditioner broke. She spent a full day in bed buck naked, reading Tolkien under the ceiling fan.
It's not like I look look. Not usually.
What's more, it's my job to keep an eye on her 24/7.
I'm Miranda's guardian angel (GA for short). A newbie created after the first atomic blast in 1945.
Miranda is my second assignment and my reason for being. Not that she has clue one. She can't even see me. Nobody can unless I choose to show myself. That's a no-no. We GAs have our limits. Sure, we help out when we can, but not in any way that's clearly detectable . . . or at least traceable (I'm known to push the limits now and then).
Night after night, I watch her sleep. She's restless. Always restless. I'm forever rearranging the sheets so her legs don't get tangled. Otherwise, she'll wake up.
She doesn't get enough rest as it is. She worries about little mistakes. Or what she frets are mistakes. What other people think of her. What will happen next.
All humans do. I wish they could glimpse infinity. It would make glitches like a C in algebra or a nitpicking parent or being ignored by The Guy feel a whole lot less fatal.
I would love to talk to Miranda. To tell her that.
She woke up crying twice last year around the time of her parents' divorce. I don't know what she dreams about. I've heard that older angels can tap into the mind. Sounds tempting, right? But I wouldn't do that. Or at least I can't.
I'm already so here. Miranda deserves her own mental space.
This is her physical space, though. My fave place on terra firma.
Since she's sound asleep, I risk assuming solid form on a denim beanbag chair, taking it in. Four cream-colored walls, two windows, eight-foot ceilings, outdated gold shag. A twin bed, desk set, tall cedar dresser, and hope chest. The blanket her grandma knitted. The stuffed toy penguin from SeaWorld. The poster of the earth that reads: HOME, SWEET HOME.
Here, I can see the little girl she was. The woman she's turning into.
Miranda began wearing bras like the one hanging off the back of her desk chair in fifth grade. She gave up on the third of her fuzzy pink diaries that same year.
One wall is covered by a bookcase. She reads paperbacks mostly. Lots of series titles. One shelf is jammed full of acting and theater books. The library stack on the desk waits to be returned. The college information packet beside it is from the University of North Texas. The cell phone next to her PC hasn't worked since it went through the wash last weekend.
Beside it rest copies of A Tale of Two Cities and Romeo and Juliet. Dickens is assigned reading, but Shakespeare is Miranda's ticket to her dream. Today's date is circled in red on the Narnia calendar. Spring-play auditions are this afternoon. My girl is so shy. I'm surprised she signed up.
Mr. Nesbit is taking a drink of water from the bottle attached to his cage. He's good company, for a gerbil.
I dissolve again so I don't have to wiggle up from the beanbag. It's time to check on Miranda. To breathe in her lemongrass body wash. To study her heart-shaped face. It's something I do almost as often as humans blink.
This time is different. Horrific. I recoil, looking for another explanation. But the ladybug nightlight is still on. The nearly full moon hasn't been eclipsed.
A smoky gray film swirls around Miranda. It clings to her. It twists into long-fingered hands, caressing her cheeks, pawing at her slim neck and shoulders. It lengthens into a translucent sheet, covering her body, sliding up over her head.
It's wrong. It has to be. But I've seen it before.
My girl is sleeping in the shadow of Death.
EITHER MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED or my beanbag is possessed. Or maybe they're the same thing, haunting and possession. I'll have to ask my best friend, Lucy. She'll know. Whichever it may be, I swear the denim lump changes shape as I sleep. This morning it's definitely mushier in the middle than it was last night.
"Miranda!" Mom calls. "You're going to be late for school."
As if I don't know that. I grab my black mesh backpack and try to sneak through the foyer and living-dining room, past the kitchen, calling, "Bye!" only to be intercepted by Mom in front of the pantry.
She's wrapped in a thick white robe, her dark hair twisted in a knot. By now, she's usually dressed and ready to sell cosmetics. "You're not eating breakfast?"
I can smell the turkey bacon and burnt toast. I remind myself that Mom tries.
"I don't want you stuffing your face with cookies at school," Mom goes on. "You know how chocolate - "
"My skin is fine." Not flawless, but I'm by no means the "before shot" in the acne commercial. I make a show of checking my watch. "I have to pick up Lucy and - "
"This came yesterday." Mom holds up a postcard, cutting me off. "From your father."
I suppress a sigh, unable to resist taking a look. Greetings from Alaska! He's on a luxury cruise. It's news to me, but that's no surprise. He quickly became an every-other-holiday dad, not an every-other-holiday-and-every-other-weekend dad. Because of his job. Because he has to travel. Because he's starting over in his new life.
"He didn't write this," I say before realizing I should've kept my mouth shut.
Mom puts her hands on her hips. "It's a woman's handwriting."
She's right. The letters are big and loopy (Wish you were here), nothing like Dad's businesslike, slanted scribble. Mom must've stewed over...