Verdict: While THE AMARANT could serve to be more aware of the messages it sends to young readers about the formation of healthy relationships, ultimately it is a fun, surface-level foray into the paranormal romance genre for middle and high school aged audiences.
High school senior Crimson Wilkinson is harboring a romantic secret: she’s discovered that Nicholae Albaric, the vampiric hero of her favorite series of novels, is far from fiction—he’s undead and well in New York City! When Crimson tracks him down they both succumb to an instant attraction, but their situation quickly becomes complicated when they discover that Crimson carries a powerful gene that puts their lives in danger.
THE AMARANT is rife with clichés, excessive dialogue tags, and ridiculously big words (mellifluous, diaphanous, eburnean, etc.); many of the high school scenes feel overly drawn out, bordering on boring; and some details in the story earn a dubious raise of an eyebrow (teens that hug every time they enter a room and a protagonist with no less than three college scholarships, for example).
But despite writing that occasionally borders on clunky, THE AMARANT is redeemed by its heroine. Crimson is the quintessential teenager: she’s anxious about upcoming life decisions, embroiled in a life that’s “strange and chaotic”, and frequently suffers from moments of “total spiritual conflict”. Like many of us, Crimson is “forever unsure how to react when complimented”. Crimson “doesn’t know a quarterback from a quarter-pounder with cheese” and she fears spiders, loves pizza, and thinks school spirit is more of a disease than an asset—and those details are what makes her a relatable teenage character.
Where THE AMARANT falters, though, is with its unrealistic depiction of romantic relationships. Because of Crimson’s intimate knowledge of the series of novels that chronicles Nicholae’s life, she’s already deeply in love with an idealized, fictional depiction of him by the time she meets Nicholae in person. Likewise, Nicholae has spent several weeks counter-stalking Crimson and has determined that her soul “comforts and grounds” him in ways that no other ever has. There’s no period of building connection, the two of them simply meet and, two days later, declare their everlasting love—even though their budding relationship is marred by an unforgiveable act of violence and Crimson is using Nicholae to heal the damage her abusive father and her previous boyfriend have left on her heart.
While THE AMARANT could serve to be more aware of the messages it sends to young readers about the formation of healthy relationships, ultimately it is a fun, surface-level foray into the paranormal romance genre for middle and high school aged audiences.
~Stephani Hren for IndieReader