This is my first ever book review, and I'm VERY excited to be writing it! The book in question is the first in the 10-part Night World series written by LJane Smith, called "Secret Vampire". This review contains VERY minimal spoilers, if any.
"Secret Vampire" is a wonderful introduction into the Night World series, not only because its a wonderful story, but because its a fabulous introductory story. Allow me to explain.
The main character is a normal, everyday girl named Poppy North. Her best friend, James Rasmussen, is a vampire, but Poppy has no knowledge of this. Why? Well, first, let me explain a bit about what the Night World is.
The Night World is comprised of all of the vampires, werewolves, and witches in the world. They generally are not fond of humans and prefer to live their lives in their own way, never letting society know what they really are. There are two rules to the Night World: Never tell a human about the Night World, and never fall in love with them. The Night World series includes several stories of these rules being broken, and this is one of them.
The trouble for James starts when Poppy is discovered to have a fatal illness, forcing him to make a choice: either he can save Poppy by admitting his feelings for her and turning her into a vampire, breaking both above laws, or he can stand there and watch her die. You can probably guess what he decides to do.
This story is such a brilliant introduction into the Night World series because we get to watch Poppy find out about the Night World and learn all about it, and we take the journey with her. The book leaves you with a sense that you have truly been introduced into the Night World, and is a great set-up for the rest of the series. It not only encompasses an enjoyable and exciting story, it also immerses you in information that you will carry with you throughout the rest of the series, yet it's gently given to you in each book as a reminder so that you can enjoy each book no matter what order you pick them up in.
- The characters in this book are fairly well-developed. James is not developed as much as Poppy is, but that's okay, because Poppy is the main character and it is through her eyes that we are meant to see the Night World. Even the minor characters, from Poppy's over-protective brother Phillip to the deadly vampire Ash, have quite a bit of charm and presence in the story.
- The atmosphere of the story is very unique. Although the vampires in this universe are painted as beautiful and powerful creatures, we are also exposed to the ugly, vicious side of being undead, proving that while vampires may look pretty, actually being one isn't as glamorous as it may seem.
- The writing style of LJane Smith is something I have always enjoyed; no matter what book it is of hers that I'm reading, I can never seem to put it down. She is descriptive, but not overly so, and her vocabulary is approachable by readers young and old. Of course, preferences in writing style differ from person to person, but I happen to love hers.
- The physical book itself is a pleasure...in its original form. I have it in two versions. The first one is the original 1996 228-page paperback, complete with art of Poppy and James on the cover. It even boasts a contest for a Night World flower pin which ended in 1997, and a sheet of glow-in-the-dark star stickers inside. It's small enough to fit into a pocket or a purse, so its easy to take around with you. The second version I have is the recently released omnibus of the first three Night World books. This book is, as you can imagine, much larger, yet still manages to fit into my purse. The cover is a black and white photo of a girl with curly hair and green eyes, whom I can only assume is supposed to be Poppy herself.
Although you can indeed pick these books up in any order you like, I do recommend reading "Secret Vampire" first, as it introduces two very important things into the story.
The first one is the Soulmate Principle, which simply states that every person in the world has a Soulmate, someone who they are meant to be with. Whether they find that person or even want to be with them once they do is a moot point this early in the series; however, we learned that something kind of funky has been going on with the Soulmate Principle that is putting the Night World on edge. What is it? Well, you'll have to read to find out.
The second is a character named Ash Redfern, who is integral to the rest of the series. He's a dangerous, devil-may-care ass with a serious superiority complex, and he's one of my favorite characters in the entire series. His introduction is something not to be missed.
Whenever I think of Ash, I think of a line that James says to Ash toward the very end of "Secret Vampire" that goes a little something like this:
"You know, you never really cared about anyone. But someday you will, and it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt--a lot."
Foreshadowing perhaps? Well, you'll just have to wait for the second book in the series, "Daughters of Darkness". That review will be coming soon.
Watch my video review and commentary on "Night World: Secret Vampire" Below: