In many vampire fantasy books, vampires are still an unrecognized “people” or at least unaccepted. Not so in TCGIC, in middle America and across the world, the vampire outbreak was witnessed and recorded on news and social media. While one vampire was romanticized the following vampires were ravenous beasts, which led to the creations of Coldtowns, towns in which lockdown keeps vampires and those affected and either waiting to turn, or in the process of turning.
The story begins at a high school party when Tana awakens in the morning – in a bathtub, hungover (that as an indication to which YA fan should read this). She stumbles into the living room where all of her friends have been massacred in a bloody, violent attack caused by a window being open on that hot summer night. Between their cold open eyes and carpet squishing from the blood, it’s a pretty gruesome scene – and an attack that Tana knows is one of the largest since vampires have lived among them. She finds her friend Aiden tied to a bed with a vampire chained in the corner. Upon hearing vampires lurking in the shadows of the hallway, Tana rescues not only Aiden, but Gabriel – a vampire. As the trio sets off in Tana’s car, with Gabriel in the trunk hidden from the sun, she realizes Aiden has been bitten and is on his way to turning. They come across a brother and sister, Winter and Midnight, who are vampire groupies and are wanting to enter Coldtown. With Aiden turning, Gabriel with them, and Tana fearing she is also turning “Cold” since she was bitten leaving the farmhouse, the group sets off for one of the government established Coldtown cities – all with different agendas.
Once the group enters Coldtown, Midnight takes them to a friend and the trouble begins as Aiden’s infection increases. Eventually Tana escapes, but not after stumbling across a second horrific blood bath. She meets a new friend who offers protection, but her loyalty to Aiden leads her into a party at Lucien’s house, the strongest and most famous of vampires. Power, politics, grudges dating back centuries all come up similarly to most vampire tales. Tana’s bad luck continues with – yet another – murderous scene, a reuniting with Gabriel, and an attack.
Tana is a strong lead often fighting her own fears and urges to help not only humans, but vampires. There are more dangerous scenes, vampire attacks even within Coldtown, and a growing confusion for Tana finding loyalty with vampires and vampire hunters alike. When her old life collides with her new life in Coldtown, Tana takes on more danger and finds her strength. As a reoccurring point that Holly Black makes – does becoming a vampire turn you into a monster or unleash feelings and urges already within the person? Tana questions if vampires are truly monsters as she she not only begins to turn “cold” but is also falling for Gabriel.
Most definitely a story for the older teens. (this is more than Twilight, less than Ann Rice). The writing is well done and descriptive. An example: “Instead, it was though she were being devoured by cold flame. And each lick of that black fire made her shudder with rapture’s agony.” — I don’t remember Twilight being so sensual.