Rules for Vampires by Alex Foulkes

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Rules for Vampires by Alex Foulkes

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Alex Mitchell
Reviewed by Alex Mitchell
Summary: A darkly funny debut novel detailing the trials and tribulations of being a young vampire and the blossoming friendship between two ancient enemies.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 368 Date: September 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK
ISBN: 978-1471199554

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Eleonore Von Motteberg (or 'Leo' for short) is a vampire. She drinks blood, she sleeps during the day, and she can Grimwalk (turning into a flock of bats to travel around, although not all of them remember to come back). Pretty cool stuff. Now, on the night of her hundredth birthnight, she has to go out and hunt her first human. However, instead she ends up killing two humans by accident and burning down an orphanage. Oops! And to make things worse, the ghosts of one of the orphans and the evil master of the orphanage come back to haunt her. So, not only does Leo have to team up with the friendly ghost Minna to stop the ghost of the Orphanmaster before he becomes unstoppably powerful, she has to do it all while hiding it from her family. Did I mention vampires and ghosts hate each other? Yeah, there's a reason why there are rules for vampires…

This is the first novel of Alex Foulkes, and I have to say she's done a good job. The characters are likeable, the writing style is very digestible and entertaining and the plot is well-paced. My only real quibble with the style of the book is that some of the words the author wished to emphasise are in all-caps, which did kind of ruin my immersion in some parts of the book, but I don't think it'll detract too much from your enjoyment of the book overall. The book also contains illustrations by Sara Ogilvie, which perfectly complement the way the characters are shown in the book, for example Leo's mother being shown as this sharp, imperious figure while her husband is more of a rotund mad scientist, both of which suit their characters perfectly. It is supposed to be the first in a series, and I for one am interested to see where it goes.

The protagonist of our book is Leo, a 111-year-old vampire girl. Despite having all the cool powers that come with being a vampire, she's a lonely girl who seeks refuge in books because of her rather miserable home life. Her father is nice if quite distant, being more interested in his experiments than his family, and her high-society mother openly favours her older sister Emmeline (who, despite being turned when she was two years old, is fifteen years older than Leo), who in turn torments Leo relentlessly. The only person who really shows her any regular kindness and love is the family butler Marged, who happens to be an animate suit of armour. That is, until she meets Minna, the ghost of the girl she inadvertently killed during her hunt. Their relationship is initially rather strained, but over the course of the story they slowly warm up to each other, even if they still throw the occasional snide jab at each other.

The way ghosts and vampires are depicted in this book is interesting. Rather than being seen as these pale, sexy bad boys/girls like so often portrayed in popular media, the vampires are shown in a much more monstrous light. For example, Leo is about six feet tall, incredibly skinny and has a mouth full of fangs, and can turn into an even more monstrous form (which we're thankfully spared an illustration of) before eating someone. The titular rules for vampires cover and prevent the balance from shifting too much and giving away the existence of vampires, enforced by the Vampire Council. The powers of ghosts in this book are fairly standard, but also have some interesting twists. Minnie is, of course, able to walk through walls and turn invisible, but she can also project some of her own memories. Despite being trapped by Leo, the Orphanmaster's powers allow him to reach out and affect the world, manifesting as a kind of rot that affects the town, the Dreadwald forest around the town and even the castle Leo lives in. His presence is genuinely threatening, even while he's trapped, and he will eventually become even stronger once the week is out. Overall, I like what the author did with the setting, and I look forward to seeing what she how she further explores it in the future.

In conclusion, this is a great debut novel about family, friendship and why you should always be careful to keep track of all your bits while you Grimwalk.

Similar books by other authors:
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy – a similar series of books that mixes both horror and comedy in just the right amounts.
Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O'Neal - a more teen-oriented comedy about coming to terms with being a fantasy monster.

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