I loved this one. Enchantment and romance and suspense and horror and history and humour, all rolled into one sparkling, sophisticated and satisfying novel.
In New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou are cousins, closer than sisters and friends, well bred young gentle ladies who both yearn, in different ways, for a bit more than their stifling society will allow. Lou wants to study and learn and grow, and Dacia wants to run and explore and travel. When they turn 17 years of age, they make the journey to their unknown homeland, to meet their family and fulfill their mysterious destiny. Unbeknownst to the girls, the Florescus are shape-shifters, magical sworn protectors of the famous and bloody Draculas. (You’d think someone might have mentioned that fact to them BEFORE they got on the boat to cross the Atlantic…)
I LOVE Dacia and Lou. They are hysterical – in the modern sense, not the late 19th century sense. Their dialogue and observations and inner thoughts are absolutely hilarious and witty. Jessica Day George’s use of diary entries and letters is fantastic; it is a great way to gain insight into their characters without long descriptions. Dacia is sure of herself, impulsive, looking for pleasure and excitement in her life. Lou is timid and nervous, but has an inner strength that comes out when she needs it.
All the characters stand out; I loved some, liked a few, hated several, but understood all. George does a really good job making her characters individuals.
The whole Smoke, Wing and Claw thing? REALLY did not see that coming, even with all the thinly veiled hints dropped throughout the first half of the book. But fabulous, amazing, imaginative and original. And SO much fun to read. I spent half the book giggling to myself (which just made my husband cut off my wine supply), and the suspenseful other half of the novel on the edge of my seat.
The fantasy world created by George is richly detailed, but not overdone. The author transports you to the fashionable streets of Paris, the cozy cafes of Bucharest, and regal castles and halls of old and royal Romania. Sit and have a traditional Romanian dinner with the whole Florescu clan, or go to the opera with a Dracula prince in a daring Parisian gown. Stand under a midnight sky and learn the terrifying truth about your birth.
The novel does start out a bit slowly, as George dedicates a good chunk of the beginning to character development. It doesn’t suffer for it. There is romance, but it is secondary to the story.
This can be read as a stand alone (no cliffhanger!), but is the first book in a series.
Warning: Although I say it is a fun read, some maturity is still required for the reading. Specifically, for a scene in which one character threatens to “ruin” one of the girls. The implication is clear.
Silver in the Blood is published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens.