From the Publisher
"Jessica evolves nicely with each new shocking revelation, becoming, over the course of the novel, an intriguing and strong protagonist . . . romance buffs will find the ultimate pairing of Lucius and Jessica absolutely irresistible, and it's downright swoonworthy once their elaborate courting ritual begins in earnest."— The Bulletin
"A romance involving a high school girl and a handsome vampire may sound a little too familiar, yet this first novel quickly bursts ahead of the pack of Twilight-wannabes . . . The romance sizzles, the plot develops ingeniously and suspensefully, and the satire sings."— Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Fantaskey sustains a wholly believable contemporary teen world against a backdrop of vampire romance—Jessica and her friends look and talk like real teens, and her wry sense of humor is delightful, especially when describing an archrival who has her eye on Lucius. Girls obsessed with vampires and romance will welcome this clever, amusing take on teen vamps in love."— Booklist
"Fantaskey’s fast-paced story is full of plot twists and turns that keep readers guessing until the very end. The story is highly entertaining with plenty of action, drama, romance, as well as self-discovery."
— School Library Journal
"Fantaskey's novel is far more than a romantic fantasy . . . Jessica is a witty, spunky protagonist with authentic insecurities and inner conflicts."VOYA, 5Q, 4P, (highest rating)
A romance involving a high school girl and a handsome vampire may sound a little too familiar, yet this first novel quickly bursts ahead of the pack of Twilight-wannabes. Down-to-earth mathlete Jessica Packwood is completely horrified when, a few months shy of her 18th birthday, a Romanian named Lucius Vladescu shows up on her doorstep, claiming that he and she are vampire royalty betrothed to each other since infancy-what's worse, her adoptive parents verify the betrothal story and explain that her birth parents identified themselves as vampires, too. Fantaskey makes this premise work by playing up its absurdities without laughing at them, endowing Jessica with a coolly ironic sensibility and Lucius with old-world snobberies that Jessica's girlfriends find irresistible. Jessica's laidback parents serve as foils for imperious Lucius ("Can I ever again be happy in our soaring Gothic castle after walking the halls of Woodrow Wilson High School, a literal ode to linoleum?" he asks sarcastically); a scene at a steakhouse where the vegan Packwoods meet the carnivorous Vladescus is first-rate comedy. The romance sizzles, the plot develops ingeniously and suspensefully, and the satire sings. Ages 14-up. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Meredith Strmac
The protagonist of this teenage novel is Jessica, a typical high school senior with researchers as parents, a best friend to confide in, and a crush on her cute neighbor. She narrates readers through her daily life and all the qualms that come along with it. On her first day of school, a tall, dark, and handsome stranger seems to be following Jessica around. This would not typically bother a teenage girl, but readers soon learn that Jessica is not, in fact, normal. The stranger, Lucius, has a secret for Jessica, one that her parents kept from her when they adopted her as a baby. Her identity crisis comes full circle when Lucius reveals himself as her betrothed, an act that her birth parents committed before their deaths. Jessica must make a drastic decision; does she continue her normal way of life in rural Pennsylvania, or follow this mysterious stranger back to Romania, her rightful home? Although the book seems to drag on until the last 25 pages or so, the sci-fi elements with a twist of romance will help capture and keep the reader's attention as Jessica continues on her journey. Reviewer: Meredith Strmac
VOYA - Courtney Huse Wika
When Lucius Vladescu arrives to collect his long-lost, betrothed Romanian vampire princess, Anastasia Dragomir, he finds in her place American teen Jessica Packwood. Jessica is a mathlete and member of 4-H, raised by vegan, anthropologist parents who brought her to America. She knows very little about her birth parents and her brief life as Anastasia, and she likes it that way. What she does know is that she is certainly not an undead vampire princess, especially if it means being betrothed to the arrogant, overbearing, and dangerous Lucius. But Jessica finds that there is much at stake should the pact between the Vladescus and Dragomirs be broken; there is a vampire war brewing in Romania, and Lucius's very life may depend on Jessica's decision. Will she leave her "nice," rational life with her best friend Mindy and boyfriend Jake, or will she accept her destiny and ascend to the throne as Anastasia Dragomir? Fantaskey's novel is far more than a romantic fantasy. As Jessica wrestles with issues of identity, she must also grapple with her body's physical changes and her newfound sexuality. For answers, she turns to Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, a title that reveals vampirism as the novel's metaphor for coming-of-age. Jessica is a witty, spunky protagonist with authentic insecurities and inner conflicts. Reviewer: Courtney Huse Wika
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up
Jessica Packwood is a normal teen attending Woodrow Wilson High School. Her mathematical nature has even given her a slightly geeky reputation, which is about to change with the arrival of Lucius Vladescu, who seems to be stalking her. She tells her mother about him and learns that she is really a Romanian vampire princess who has been betrothed to Lucius at birth. She knew she was adopted, but this revelation comes as a shock. It is this agreement that has kept rival vampire clans, the Dragomirs and the Vladescus, at an uneasy peace. If the marriage does not take place, war will ensue and threaten the ultimate destruction of Jessica's vampire family. To say that this is a lot for the teen to take in is an understatement. Lucius is gorgeous, old world, tender as well as arrogant, and very overprotective of her. However, she chooses to date Jake, a handsome but rather dull boy. But not all is as it seems in the vampire world, and as the story progresses, circumstances force Jessica and Lucius to take matters into their own hands; in doing so, they examine their true feelings about themselves, family, and duty. Fantaskey's fast-paced story is full of plot twists and turns that keep readers guessing until the very end. The story is highly entertaining with plenty of action, drama, romance, as well as self-discovery.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Populated with thoroughly flat characters, this vampire romance, despite charming moments, makes Twilight look like a feminist handbook. Mathlete Jess doesn't like the creepy new student who calls her by her pre-adoptive name, Antanasia. Velvet-clad Lucien insists that he's a vampire prince, she's a vampire princess and they've been betrothed since birth. Jess's vegan anthropologist parents not only agree with Lucien, but invite him to move in. Though resistant at first, Jess becomes more reconciled to being nobility, especially as Lucien shows interest in local girls and starts avoiding Jess. She'll need Lucien to become a vampire, however; a female vampire can't come into her powers until she is bitten by a male vampire at puberty (the reverse, maddeningly enough, is not true). The more she thinks about vampirism, the less analytical Jess becomes, incredibly losing both the desire and the capacity to do math, skipping calculus and walking out of a Mathlete competition she's been training for years to win. It's OK, though, because she's wicked cute in her vampire mother's dress! For vampire-romance completists only. (Fantasy. 12-14)
Lucius Vladescu is a vampire. Jessica Packwood is his vampire princess. But to this small-town Pennsylvania teen, getting through the school day is hard enough without a tall, dark, handsome vampire stalking her and calling her by her long forgotten Romanian name. It's no secret that 17-year-old Jessica was adopted by free-spirited, vegan parents. But what they've hidden from her, an immortal destiny, will change her life forever. Without warning, Jessica is plunged into a world of rumors, lies, and a fate she isn't sure she wants to fulfill. As responsibility to her heritage overpowers her and Lucius's kisses weaken her resolve, Jessica is faced with a choice between normalcy and unbelievable power. If only she has the courage to choose. Beth Fantaskey's first novel continuously grapples with the social ramifications of male and female power colliding, all wrapped up in the delicious vampire genre that has captured the nation. Reviewer: Kirstin Slitt
Read an Excerpt
THE FIRST TIME I saw him, a heavy, gray fog clung to the cornfields, tails of mist slithering between the dying stalks. It was a dreary early morning right after Labor Day, and I was waiting for the school bus, just minding my own business, standing at the end of the dirt lane that connected my family’s farmhouse to the main road into town.
I was thinking about how many times I’d probably waited for that bus over the course of a dozen years, killing time like any mathlete would, by doing calculations in my head, when I noticed him.
And suddenly that familiar stretch of blacktop seemed awfully desolate.
He was standing under a massive beech tree across the road from me, his arms crossed over his chest. The tree’s low, gnarled branches twisted down around him, nearly concealing him in limbs and leaves and shadows. But it was obvious that he was tall and wearing a long, dark coat, almost like a cloak.
My chest clenched, and I swallowed hard. Who stands under a tree at the crack of dawn, in the middle of nowhere, wearing a black cloak?
He must have realized I’d spotted him, because he shifted a little, like he was deciding whether to leave. Or maybe cross the road.
It had never struck me how vulnerable I’d been all those mornings I’d waited out there alone, but the realization hit me hard then.
I glanced down the road, heart thudding. Where is the stupid bus? And why did my dad have to be so big on mass transit, anyhow? Why couldn’t I own a car, like practically every other senior? But no, I had to "share the ride" to save the environment. When I’m abducted by the menacing guy under the tree, Dad will probably insist my face only appear on recycled milk cartons. . . .
In the precious split second I wasted being angry at my father, the stranger really did move in my direction, stepping out from under the tree, and I could have swornjust as the bus, thank god, crested the rise about fifty yards down the roadI could have sworn I heard him say, "Antanasia."
My old name . . . The name I’d been given at birth, in Eastern Europe, before I’d been adopted and brought to America, rechristened Jessica Packwood. . . .
Or maybe I was hearing things, because the word was drowned out by the sound of tires hissing on wet pavement, grinding gears, and the whoosh of the doors as the driver, old Mr. Dilly, swung them open for me. Wonderful, wonderful bus number 23. I’d never been so happy to climb on board.
With his usual grunted "Mornin’, Jess," Mr. Dilly put the bus in gear, and I stumbled down the aisle, searching for an empty seat or a friendly face among the half-groggy riders. It sucked sometimes, living in rural Pennsylvania. The town kids were probably still sleeping, safe and sound in their beds.
Locating a spot at the very back of the bus, I plopped down with a rush of relief. Maybe I’d overreacted. Maybe my imagination had run wild, or too many episodes of America’s Most Wanted had messed with my head. Or maybe the stranger really had meant me harm. . . . Twisting around, I peered out the rear window, and my heart sank.
He was still there, but in the road now, booted feet planted on either side of the double yellow line, arms still crossed, watching the bus drive away. Watching me.
"Antanasia . . ."
Had I really heard him call me by that long-forgotten name?
And if he knew that obscure fact, what else did the dark stranger, receding in the mist, know about my past?
More to the point, what did he want with me in the present?
Copyright © 2009 by Beth Fantaskey
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