Verdict: A smart vampire novel with an interesting mystery and a compelling heroine.
It is 1913 and the residents of Salem, MA, have no idea that their bustling town has recently become home to feuding vampires on the trail of a long lost treasure. At the center of the book is teenager Sarah Engelmann. With her best friends, twins Sam and Anne Williams, and new friend Alex Palaogos–a recent immigrant from Greece–Sarah finds the mutilated body of a young neighbor.
Shortly after the funeral they see the dead boy at an amusement park. Alex recognizes him as a vampire. Fortunately, he has learned from his Grandfather and their Albanian servant how to kill the undead. But, the boy only just died. There must be another vampire near by. The teens set out to track it down and kill it. They have no idea of the danger they are in.
The intricate plot incorporates elements of the Kabbalah, Christianity, ancient Jewish rituals, and even more ancient Egyptian gods, along with good old-fashioned witchcraft and demonology. Sarah’s father, Rabbi Engelmann, and Alex’s grandfather, are both learned but seem to have secret pasts. The Williams’ pastor, Mr. Parris, is a warlock (with a secret demon lover): “I never liked the man. He seemed off, even for a Congregationalist,” says Rabbi Engelmann.
Peppered with humor, and full of twists, the story moves apace. Ancient villains and their magic mix with modern technology. After an attack on the vampire’s home, the youngsters discover that early car models, with their lengthy starting procedures, do not make for great get away vehicles.
Haunted by visions, helped by her own learning and her father’s wisdom, Sarah is the key to any successful resolution. But, like her friends, she is young and impulsive and makes mistakes. We are on her side, though, which makes the abrupt ending all the more strange and strangely disappointing. Unless there is a sequel in the works.
Reviewed by Brid Nowlan for IndieReader