cover image Bloodwitch


Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Delacorte, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-74303-7

While this trilogy opener lacks some of the poetry and complexity of Atwater-Rhodes’s Kiesha’ra series, it effectively explores the perils of hierarchy and the importance of independent thought. Set in the author’s empire of Midnight in the year 1803, this coming-of-age tale introduces 14-year-old shape-shifter Vance, who idolizes the vampires who raised him. However, an exposition-heavy encounter with witty outcast Malachi Obsidian shows him that not everyone supports their slave-based empire. Though Vance’s initial naïveté frustrates, vivid secondary characters maintain interest; fans of Midnight Predator will enjoy the reappearance of Jeshickah, the whip-wielding vampire ruler of Midnight, and Jaguar, Vance’s irreverent mentor. As Vance moves in Jeshickah’s circles for the first time, he cannot ignore the slaves’ blighted lives, memorably illustrated when Jaguar instructs him to cut one to test his blood-linked magic. Midnight’s shape-shifter opponents are equally unscrupulous, using Vance as a plague vector to infect vampires and slaves alike. “[Y]es, I’m manipulating you,” Malachi admits. “I’m fairly certain that’s almost all that anyone does to you.” Agendas collide in an intrigue-filled, unpredictable climax. Ages 12–up. [em](May) [/em]