Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-novelist Atwater-Rhodes writes astonishingly well--considering that she completed the manuscript for this vampire novel when she was only 13 years old (she's now 15). Even compared with many adult authors, she's skillful at building atmosphere, insightful in creating characters and imaginative in varying and expanding on vampire lore. The sophisticated structure flashes between a 300-year-old vampire named Risika and her previous, human existence as one Rachel Weatere. The weaknesses in this venture, however, point to the author's youth. Risika's world-weary profundities have the ring of easy, adolescent cynicism (e.g., while visiting a favorite animal at a zoo, Risika says, "[Humans] even cage themselves, though their bars are made of society, not steel"). Characters wander in and out of the story; a climactic showdown between Risika and her archenemy depends more on telling than on showing; and an 11th-hour surprise, though neatly planted, strains the narrative logic. But with the popularity of books such as Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss and TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, this precocious debut will likely find fans. Ages 12-up. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Risika is Rachel, or, rather, was Rachel. That is, three hundred years ago she was Rachel, before Ather came to change her into someone of the night, the blackness, a vampire. This book, written by the author at the astonishing age of thirteen, is a hauntingly human and realistic vision of what that might actually be like. Changed in the 1600s by vampires who have come to seek revenge on her twin brother, Risika tells her story and reveals the dark torture of being such a creature, immortal, but surprisingly vulnerable and full of insight into her own growing vampire nature. The vampires prowl the human world on a shadowy level, combing streets and bars in search of victims, looking normal except to those who can sense their auras. After a series of confrontations, she takes revenge on Aubrey, the cruel and vicious one who sent her to this fate, and learns that although at one time it may have been possible to choose a different path, she must live with her vampire nature in all its complexity. Although clearly not for everyone, this is a literary work from a young author who surely bears watching. 2000, Random House/Dell Laurel-Leaf, Ages 12 up, $8.95 and $4.99. Reviewer: Nancy PartridgeChildren's Literature
VOYA - Kevin Beach
The author of this slight vampire tale was only thirteen years old when she penned it, and it is a remarkable accomplishment for such a tender age. Atwater-Rhodes has thoroughly considered her own imaginary "whys" and "hows" of vampirism, and realistically communicates adolescent passion and angst through the teen heroine of the story. The setting alternates between the present day, featuring creature of the night Risika, and the colonial-era America of Risika's pre-vampiric days as the girl Rachel. Unfortunately, Rachel's colonial family is barely introduced before she is transformed and removed from them. Her twin brother's psychic powers and the reason why the two of them are targeted by a vampire in the first place could have been better explained. The present day three-hundred-year-old but eternally youthful and powerful Risika still harbors the resentment of the loss of her soul and the apparent death of her brother. She seeks vengeance upon the two vampires who conspired to condemn her. The main character does not show much sophistication for such a long life, and there is no indication as to what she did during those intervening centuries. The plot moves from one confrontation with Risika's nemesis to the next with some excitement but little literary atmosphere. Readers used to the ethereal erotic essence of Anne Rice's characters will be disappointed, but the Fear Street/Goosebumps crowd will enjoy the rapid pace and the sense of power the heroine describes as she shape-changes, astral projects, and hunts. The book will strike a chord with young readers close in age to the author. She promises future dark stories about more night creatures, and has certainly made an impressive debut that shows the promise of a gifted writer in the making. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9).
Written by a gifted thirteen-year-old, this vampire novel travels from the present to the past in alternating chapters. In 1701, Rachel Weatere attempts to defend her brother from supernatural fiends and ends up becoming a victim of a vampire, Ather, who then makes Rachel one of them. As Rachel becomes a vampire, she fights against the need for blood and the urge to kill. Her name is changed to Risika and upon awakening as one of the undead, Risika begins a battle with Aubrey, one of Ather's vampire kin. Although Ather praises Risika's strength, Aubrey scoffs at her weaknesses and silly morals. In their last battle, Aubrey leaves Risika with a huge scar along her collarbone as well as a deep hatred of him. Aubrey's feelings about Risika's inferiority do not change for 300 years even though he and Risika have drifted apart. In the present, the two meet again when Risika intrudes on Aubrey's territory. Now he is ready to teach her a lesson that may involve danger to the only thing that she loves in the world - Tora, a caged tiger at the zoo. Atwater-Rhodes uses William Blake's poem The Tiger with great effect to introduce this tale of strong-willed desires and mental turmoil. In swift prose, the author has deftly created a spunky and almost fearless protagonist who constantly struggles with her vampiric nature and her humanity. The vampire clubs, black roses, and hidden lairs also make for a delightfully eerie setting. Fans of Anne Rice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel will find much to enjoy in this first novel. (Editor's Note: The follow-up to this book has been published in hardcover: Demon in My View. Delacorte. isbn 0-385-32720-X. $9.95.) KLIATT Codes:JSRecommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Dell/Laurel-Leaf, 147p, 18cm, $4.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Ginger Armstrong; Principal Lib. Assoc., Chesterfield Cty P.L., Chester, VA, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Risika is a vampire of great strength and power, yet she hates and fears Aubrey, who was one of the vampires responsible for her transformation. The novel jumps between the present day, and 300 years ago when Risika was a mortal young woman named Rachel. While thinking that she is defending her twin brother from the evil beings, Rachel herself is taken and transformed into "one of them." Risika still remembers her former life and the morals she held as a human, yet has come to an understanding of her new life as a vampire and tries to find a balance between the two. She believes that Aubrey was responsible for the murder of her twin brother, and her need for vengeance is strong. But is it strong enough to defeat Aubrey? The story is well written and very descriptive, and has in-depth character development. Risika has passionate feelings, strengths, and weaknesses. Taking on the characteristics of a tiger, an animal she admires and respects, she finds the wherewithal to defeat her greatest enemy, self-doubt. This first novel by an author with great ability and promise is sure to be popular.-Kendra Nan Skellen, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes writes about vampires. Not the cheesy I-vant-to-bite-your-throat types, but interesting, complicated immortal souls, with good and bad tendencies and involved family histories.
Read an Excerpt
A minute or an hour later, I woke for a moment in a dark place. There was no light and no sound, only pain and the thick, warm liquid that was being forced past my lips.
I swallowed again and again before my head cleared. The liquid was bittersweet, and as I drank I had an impression of power and . . . not life or death, but time. And strength and eternity . . .
Finally I realized what I had been drinking. I pushed away the wrist that someone was holding to my lips, but I was weak, and it was so tempting.
"Temptation." The voice was in my ears and my head, and I recognized it as Ather's.
Once again I pushed away the wrist, though my body screamed at me for doing so. Ather was insistent, but so was I. I somehow managed to turn my head away, despite the pain that shot through me with each beat of my heart. I could hear my own pulse in my ears, and it quickened until I could hardly breathe past it, but still I pushed away the blood. I believed for that second, in my immortal soul, and would not abandon it -- not willingly.
Suddenly Ather was gone. I was alone.
I could feel the blood in my veins, entering my body, soul, and mind. I could not get my breath; my head pounded and my heart raced. Then they both slowed.
I heard my own heart stop.
I felt my breath still.
My vision faded, and the blackness filled my mind.
From the Hardcover edition.