After recovering from my PTSD from reading ‘A Bead of Blood’, I emerged to find a new e-book downloaded on Wendigo’s communal Kindle; Quinn Conlan’s School for Vampires called my name with sweet whispers of a media ripe for judgement.
As I was reading, however, I ran into another problem. The story is actually pretty good.
It opens with the sixteen-year old protagonist, named Blake Randall, groggy and drugged up, on a train to somewhere with a strange old woman guarding her. We find out later that this woman’s name is Cora, and she’s a keeper; someone who guides new vampires to the school. In the opening, however, we know none of this. The narrative is vague and confusing, but not because of bad writing. In fact, it’s actually a well-done narrative device to make the reader experience what Blake herself is going through. When the train stops, Blake sees other drugged up teenagers being led by their own keepers down a train tunnel. Then, they jump one at a time down into a man hole. It’s like platform 9 3/4, except with more screaming and pants shitting terror.
Luckily, they’re vampires, so they just float down the hole like Mary fucking Poppins. Blake and all the new recruits are led through
Hogsmeade an underground town with a bunch of, I’m assuming, vampires. Blake catches a glimpse of a handsome and brilliantly mustachioed gent, adjectives I’ve always found odd in the same sentence–
They are then lead onto an old-fashioned handcar, operated by disturbing, small, hunchbacked creatures. Next, they are ushered into a room on campus where they are introduced to Mr. Foggarty, the head master at the Alurian School for Vampires, only to be abruptly ushered into private rooms where they spend days in agony transitioning. When Blake emerges, her school year begins. She assembles with her fellow juniors, as apparently vampires skip freshman and sophomore year. Or she transferred in as a junior, like me after I got kicked out of school for stealing from all those lockers. Blake notices fewer faces than before; when she inquires about this, she receives a nonchalant response that those who didn’t transition correctly, become ‘helpers’; those hunched-back creatures that run the handcar railway and other menial tasks. That’s—-. Well, that’s actually pretty terrifying.
The students are then sorted into different dorms according to their personalities, although it ends up being dorms of preps, nerds, or rebels. So think of the sorting hat, just way more shallow.
The young fledgling Blake now starts off her school year. She runs into a cheerleader named
Draco Malfoy Crystal who immediately hates Blake because she’s a ‘country girl who thinks she’s better then everyone else’. OK, very cliche. In the same vein, there’s a bad boy and a jock, both of whom, surprise, surprise, end up vying for Blake’s affection. This may induce many an eye-roll, but from how the narrative and story is written, I can tell this is a decent enough author. I can only conclude that this is an affectionate parody of itself, similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It doesn’t take itself too seriously; it’s a bunch of teenagers in school; they happen to be vampires, but they still have to deal with trivial shit.
The junior vampires are given Glint (which the seniors can’t get; there’s a sort of black market where juniors can trade their glint to a Ratso-type classmate for items or trips to the surface) and synthetic blood tablets. Great, I thought, another neutered vampire story like the Sookie Stackhouse novels or Twilight. However, I was wrong. They are being trained on how to hunt and kill humans when they graduate, including a vampire math class, where they learn the perfect angle to tilt a neck for feeding. Alright, then. Finally, a real vampire story. They are also trained in combat against other vampires, trained by a Japanese man (seriously) on how to throw darts filled with old blood at target dummies, as old blood is poisonous to vampires. They have a class where they learn the ancient and dead Vampyre language, something even the teacher admits is useless. It’s like Latin in Catholic school.
All of these classes are leading up to finals, where the junior class, along with the seniors, will show off what they learned in front of a mysterious group called the backers.
There’s also the aforementioned mustachioed vag throb. In one chapter, Blake misses the train back to the dorms, and is stuck in shady-as-fuckville. She’s almost vampire raped by a bunch of roughnecks when, you guessed it, mustache saves the day! He’s accompanied by a brimmed hat shadowy figure who never says a word. I’d be intrigued and curious about this fedora man if it weren’t for the fact that the shadow-person hat man haunts my dreams.
Blake bonds with the prefect of her dorm, named Kate. Blake trust her, and so she starts to ask her questions; why was she chosen to be a vampire? What will became of them after school? Kate is uncomfortable with these questions, but promises Blake she’ll answer them later, at the end of the semester. I’m getting a feeling. I feeling I haven’t sensed since—-
Oh shit, son, that bitch be dead! After finals, which Kate did excellent in (including flying) she is found naked and dead on the train tracks. Blake is left to find out what happened to her by trading Glint to Ratso, and going up to the surface. There, she finds a penthouse, and encounters the big bad; a man named Tobias. He’s a backer who watched the finals. We find out backers are grown-up vampires who watch the younger ones carefully; when the fledglings graduate, the backers employ the ones they found the most promising. Blake confronts Tobias, and a creepy I have you now, my pretty scene ensues where Blake is drugged and then redressed while asleep. Why? Maybe she smelled. Maybe Tobias’ penthouse has a dress code. Tobias explains that he murdered Kate because he wanted to employ her, but she showed off too much during the finals so he killed her. If only I had that excuse when I got a 0.0 GPA in high school.
In any case, the novel ends with Blake jumping out a window to escape Hannibal Lecter-esque Tobias, flying for the first time. But daylight is coming, and she’s starting to burn! She reaches a manhole cover, but is too weak to open it and save herself. The novel ends on as vague a note as it started; Blake is saved by a mysterious figure.
I liked this novel. It made fun of itself, it was rather G-rated, despite the fact that the students will some day be murdering the shit out of the human populace; but I can see thirteen-year old Kid Cork loving this series. Blake is a believable teenager, as questionable things are happening around her, she goes with it because authoritative figures are present. I’m actually looking forward to what happens next. I can’t think of anything scathing to say, so…
Overall: 7/10, second date possible