Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
|Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
|Reviewer: John Lloyd
|Summary: A compelling start to a lengthy teen urban horror series, with interesting developments from the off and a strong sense of style and adventure. Certainly a commendable opener.
|Date: May 2008
|Publisher: Allison and Busby
Claire Danvers is not having the best of time at college, even though she is bright enough to have graduated into it a year earlier than all her peers. Mostly as a result of the jealousy that brings, she is being bullied. Mostly as a result of that, she stumbles across a student house on the less-than-brilliant side of Morganville, Texas, and only then starts to learn the truth about the society around her.
For Morganville is run by vampires - split tribes of the undead, giving protection to their favourite humans, obeying ritualistic laws - but also seeing unconnected humans, such as Claire, as organ donors and walking blood banks. Thus the town and indeed the household are obeying ancient rules, protecting a balance of power, hiding deathly secrets and vengeance, and our young heroine is going to personify the fish out of water, until she can learn enough to keep herself safely on her feet (were fish to have feet).
One of the pleasures in this book is finding a MacGuffin, driving the plot along, coming to us about half-way - when we think back and see that all that has gone before is merely scene-setting, character-defining, exposition and all the rest, we can tip our hats to a very fine teen writer. Rachel Caine has over a dozen titles to her name, but still, she's dropping herself in at a deep end of a series of nine books set in Morganville. It's something, for once, to relish.
There is a very pleasant style to the narration, which isn't first person but might as well be - the way it gets into the mindset, chatty phrasing and so on of Claire. Her eyes prove to be the ideal way to see the darkness of Morganville, and while there's something a little cloying about her new male housemates being 'hotties' at times, we can get a very entertaining look at things around her.
And those things have had some effort put into them. The rules of vampirism, the rites of the town, the secrets here, there and everywhere - all bear a tinge of distinction. There's nothing to jar and make us unbelieving, however much genre fiction we have read before - this urban fantasy obeys all the laws of that land, and still provides variety and proves the craft of our author.
There's not much in the way of this being a five-star opener to this series - I did raise an eyebrow when so much library work was done, only to find the following day was a Monday, and perhaps some of the 'ooh, yummy boys' bits could have been toned down a tad for my taste. But I've said before on finding superior series, even if none of the individual books reaches a singular brilliance, there is something extra to be gained from putting them all together, sitting back and enjoying the ride.
And I think this is another case in point. It was one of the more compelling in-one-sitting teen reads I've had in some time, and for the 13-15-year-old, and certainly, for the females among you, this series looks like being one to bulk-buy.
Oh, and the glow-in-the-dark covers work a treat.
For the cautious parental buyer, the horror contained here is on the slight side - certainly not an adult movie if filmed, but some of the language is a little strong.
I must thank the nice Allison and Busby people for our review copy.
More girls-fighting-the-undead-and-better-than-Buffy-too can be read in You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay.
You can read more book reviews or buy Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Glass Houses: The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine at Amazon.com.
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