The Literary Horizon is all young adult horror fantasy this week!
Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund
From the author’s website: “The sparkly, innocent creatures of lore are a myth. Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. And they can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great. Fortunately, unicorns have been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed ather eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods – thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom – Astrid learns that unicorns are real and dangerous, and she has a family legacy to uphold. Her mother packs her off to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters, all is not what is seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to – perhaps most dangerously of all – her growing attraction to a handsome art student… and a relationship that could jeopardize everything.”
Let me reiterate- killer unicorns that can only be killed by virgins trained by the Catholic Church. It’s such a strikingly original (and strikingly awesome) premise. I also want to see what exactly Peterfreund does with the unicorn mythology she’s researched in the novel. There’s the international aspect, since the hunters are trained in Rome, which appeals to me. There’s even an actual, practical reason why a hunter can’t get romantically involved–she needs to remain a virgin to remain a hunter, and the world needs hunters. I just really want to see how it all plays out.
Lenore’s review over at Presenting Lenore is glowing, especially in the novel’s treatment of virginity, a requirement for unicorn hunters. Professional praise is similarly glowing. Both Tamora Pierce and Scott Westerfeld, author of Uglies, love it.
You can read the first chapter at Peterfreund’s website. I’m abstaining, because I don’t want to spoil anything for when I finally do get my hands on it.
Rampant was released August 25.
The Midnight Guardian, by Sarah Jane Stratford
From the product description: “It’s 1938, and the tentacles of Hitler’s terrifying Third Reich have commenced their stranglehold on Europe. The Nazi empire will soon be clean of all bloodlines deemed tainted or undesirable…including vampires.
London’s ancient tribunal of vampires is aghast at the destruction taking place on the Continent. Though vampires try not to interfere with human politics, Hitler’s terrible plans force them into action. They resolve to send five of their most formidable vampires to Berlin— millennials that have lived over 1000 years and whose age and wisdom make them close to invulnerable— to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy the growing Nazi war machine.
The brilliant and beautiful millennial Brigit is loath to go, but her powers are needed if the mission is to have any chance of success. She must summon all her strength to endure the separation from her lover Eamon, whom she made almost eight centuries ago, but whose lack of millennial status makes him an unacceptable choice for this operation. Though he longs to join her, his duty to Brigit is best served from afar, by nurturing their deep psychic connection and reinforcing her spirit with his fierce devotion and memories of his tender embrace.
But as the millennials attempt to penetrate and sabotage Hitler’s armies, they discover that the Nazis are more capable than any human force they’ve yet encountered and more monstrous than they’d ever imagined. Forced to take bolder, more dangerous steps, they soon attract the attention of specially trained vampire hunters loyal to Hitler and his vision of a vampire-free Europe. Exposed, deep inside enemy territory, with vicious Nazi officers and hunters at her heels, Brigit must attempt a daring escape from the Continent, guarding precious cargo that marks the only hope of salvaging their mission.”
I’ll admit it, I want to read this because it pits vampires against Nazis. What can I say, I can be easy to please. As you may have noticed, I have a thing for fantasy alternate history. It’s two flavors of “what if?” that go great with each other.
I’m also sick of, if you’ll excuse my terrible pun, toothless vampires. According to LoveVampires’ advance review, these are old-school vampires. Their main interest in stopping Hitler is to preserve their food source. This adds another element I’m intrigued by–whoever wins, we lose, to quote the Alien vs. Predator tagline. This is the first novel in a series, so I hope that Stratford can deliver a novel that is both self-contained and can also be part of a whole.
Half of the fun of vampire novels, of course, is the immortality and back story concerning each vampire, and I like the idea of Stratford’s millennials. I can’t wait to read it.
The Midnight Guardian will be released October 13- next week!