Heather Brewer's five volume Chronicles of Vladimir Tod tracked its vampire hero through five school years of biting and other acts of mayhem. Now Vlad's cousin Joss Mcmillan, who appeared in the series, takes center stage in an offshoot epic that promises to attract readers not afraid to listen to a different paranormal drummer. Joss is a Slayer with uncommon, indeed unique powers, but he will need every talent in his arsenal to survive a recent infestation of vampires. Chronicles with claws.
Launching a companion series to the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Brewer rewinds the clock to deliver the back-story of a supporting character. After a vampire murders his younger sister, sensitive outsider Joss McMillan is invited by his reclusive uncle Abraham to join the secretive Slayer Society, an organization dedicated to killing the undead. Three years later, Joss, now 13, is summoned to upstate New York to begin the final phase of his training, in preparation for his becoming a full-fledged Slayer. Pushed to his limits, Joss conquers every challenge that Abraham and the other Slayers present to him, surrendering himself to his unforgiving and dangerous destiny. But as Slayers are killed, evidence points toward a traitor in their midst; forced to fight for his life, Joss must overcome his biggest weakness—empathy for his enemies. Action-packed and suspenseful, Joss's story works equally well as the start of a new series and as an expansion of the Vladimir Tod storyline, offering fans a sympathetic portrait of a slayer's rise to vengeance. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Readers who still have an appetite for vampire lore, and a willingness to enter what looks to be like another fairly well-written series, will appreciate Joss as a character who is both sensitive and brave, as well as smart." — VOYA
VOYA - Francesca Goldsmith
When Joss was ten, he saw his beloved five-year-old sister victimized by a vampire. Three years later, Joss, unwittingly but according to the plans of others, begins his apprenticeship as a Slayer, member of a tribe of humans trained to find and annihilate "hives" of vampires. The training is toughnot only rigorous, but fraught with events that are set up by his trainers to stump him and those which come from the presence of real vampires. Joss feels he has only one ally in all this physical painwhich includes day-long barefoot runs on a forest trail, followed by chopping tree trunks into logs for hours moreand psychological torment wrought by his grief over his sister, as well as his current alienation from the Slayers who train him. That ally is the "nursemaid" Slayer, a kindly fellow who cooks the Slayers's breakfasts and patches their injuries. Of course, nothing is as it first seems to Joss: the reader understands better than he that his sister's death was not his fault, but other discoveries are made by character and reader together: why the Slayers are being so particularly brutal when training Joss, how vampires operate (in this particular version), and the reality that Joss has inner strengths he did not know about, as well as family who love him. Readers who still have an appetite for vampire lore, and a willingness to enter what looks to be like another fairly well-written series, will appreciate Joss as a character who is both sensitive and brave, as well as smart but able to be tricked by adults who can be smarter still. Reviewer: Francesca Goldsmith
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—After Joss McMillan, 13, witnesses his little sister's murder at the hands of a vampire, he vows to get revenge. It isn't until his uncle reveals that their family is part of the Slayer Society, a secret group that hunts vampires, that Joss really gets his chance. Although most potential slayers have to wait until they turn 18 to join, the existence of a rather large group of hard-to-kill vampires and a secret prophecy lead the Slayer Society to start Joss's training immediately. What follows is a summer of brutal training. Several seasoned Slayers are slaughtered, and Joss and his uncle are determined to expose the traitor among them. If Joss can survive his training, a traitor bent on killing the Slayers, and a blossoming friendship with a girl, he may just become one of the youngest and most powerful Slayers in recent history. The first title (Dial, 2011) in a new series by Heather Brewer is told from the perspective of the Slayer who has become Vladimir Tod's ("The Chronicles Vladimir Tod" series, also written by Brewer) mortal enemy. While fans of the first series will definitely seek out this title, listeners do not have to be familiar with those books. Alexander Cendese easily captures Joss's teen angst and the juxtaposition of his determination to avenge his sister and his lack of confidence in himself and his abilities. Cendese also lends a variety of accents and tones to the secondary characters, creating an interesting and easy to follow story. For high school and public libraries, especially those where the Vladimir Tod series is popular.—Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, West Springfield, MA