________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 27. . . .March 15, 2013



Larry Rodness.
Bowling Green, KY: Itoh Press (www.itohpress.com), 2012.
348 pp., trade pbk. & ebook, $15.00 (pbk.), $9.96 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-939383-14-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-939383-17-4 (ebook).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

* /4



Before Emylene could reply, a vampyre sprang from behind a burning car and wrestled Theo to the ground. As the demon prepared to sink its teeth into Theo’s throat, both Emylene and Vandy jumped on its back and pressed their tattooed arms into the demon’s flesh. The revenant emitted a shriek as the tats seared its putrefied skin and then ignited its body, sending a plume of fire a dozen feet into the air. Emylene fell back choking on the sooty remnants. Vandy cradled Theo who lay there with his arm broken and twisted from the attack.

“Theo, are you okay?” asked Vandy.

“The bad news is I peed my pants, the good news is I think I just passed the stone.”

“You’ve also got a broken arm,” she replied.

Emylene knew the flames would act like a beacon and bring more demons down on her family. They had to get out of there. She peered through the fog to get her bearings, but the smoke and screaming had turned the streets into a war zone. Which way to safety?

With chaos at every turn, there was no way to be sure which direction to go. They pulled themselves together and followed their instincts. Emylene and Vandy shouldered the injured Theo over the burning tendrils that snapped, crackled and popped under their feet. Their lungs burned from the poisoning air, making every step a struggle, until the trio could go no further and collapsed on the pavement, exhausted. Emylene listened for tell-tale signs. Angry, urgent voices all around them confirmed they’d been overtaken by the orgy of death. Footsteps approached and stopped inches from where her head lay on the concrete. Finally she would meet him, the one she imagined since she was a child. Whether he be the handsome stranger who would dance her into her grave or the thief who would carry her soul off into the night, she was ready to face him. But when she lifted her eyes, she was not prepared for what stood before her.

“Girly, get off my hose!”

Staring upward, Emylene and her parents found themselves surrounded by a team of firefighters.


Emylene Stipe is 18-years-old when the novel begins, and she is a second generation Goth who is in the midst of rebelling against parents who, themselves, are seen as rebels in society. Her favourite response to almost any question is simply one word, “perverse”, and yet Emylene only learns the true meaning of the word as the story progresses. For some inexplicable reason, Emylene finds herself drawn to a particular sketch in the local antique store. Once she has purchased it and installed it in her apartment, the girl pictured in the sketch magically escapes from her frame-prison and enters Emylene’s life for real. Little does Emylene know that nothing about her world will ever be the same again.

     Rodness begins the novel with an interesting premise, namely that a character in a sketch comes to life and interacts with those around her. In fact, Mira soon takes over, and readers realize that she is far from the innocent young woman portrayed in the artwork. Another main character is Lazslo, a Croat whom Emylene meets and who seems to be her only ally, accompanying Emylene to Other-Town where vampires have taken control and helping her understand how best to protect herself without falling victim to the glitter and glamour of what superficially appears to be a better life.

     The novel depends largely on a fast-paced plot as Emylene finds herself surrounded by Vrykolakas and other vampire-like creatures. It becomes impossible for her to know where to put her trust as those closest to her have apparently been turned by the vampires. The plot rushes from one scene to the next, not always maintaining consistency. Emylene and Laszlo often go from one part of the city to the other, and, in time, this becomes rather repetitive, even if the details are designed to be graphic and exciting. In the end, Emylene is back with her parents, Other-Town had burned to the ground, and everything wraps up very neatly.

     The final lines of the novel suggest that the vampires might not have been truly overcome and perhaps Rodness is considering a sequel. Hopefully another book will have a tighter plotline, characters who grow and mature in front of the reader, and an improved editorial staff to take out not only plot inconsistencies but spelling and grammar difficulties and what appears to be unintended humour.

Not Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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