Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Vampire tale that has just enough to get the blood flowing

Vampires are, without doubt, in vogue at the minute. Stephanie Myers' Twilight trilogy set the bookshelves and the big screen alight while True Blood is a firm TV favourite with older teens and a guilty pleasure for many adults.

Tapping into this vein (sorry, couldn't resist) comes the debut novel of Co Antrim woman Andrea White. And, for a first novel, it's not bad at all. In fact, this offers another new perspective on a topic that continues to fascinate people of all ages.

Set in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Vampeire: The Debutante is a tangled love story between beautiful but troubled teenager Layla and American student Regan. Throw in two Northern Irish sidekicks, a dying mother, a mysterious aunt, patriotic vampire-slayers and merciless covens, and you're left with a fast-paced page-turner.

When Layla's mother dies, the world as she knows it changes forever. Never aware of who her father was, Layla and her mother Marie travelled the world but came to live in Scotland when Marie became ill. When Marie dies of an unspecified illness, Layla continues living with her aunt Kate.

After Marie's death, Layla begins noticing changes, such as her eyes changing colour and a vast enchantment of her senses. Kate sees the changes and knows exactly what her niece is experiencing but keeps the truth from Layla.

When Layla meets Regan, in true romantic fashion they fall head over heels. He is escaping an unhappy family life in America and was persuaded by two Irish friends he met during the summer in Bruges, Kite and Franky, to enrol at university in Glasgow.

Already suspicious of Kite and Franky, Layla is heartbroken when Regan disappears during a trip to Northern Ireland when Kite and Franky invite Regan to their home in Glenarm. And it's here where Regan comes face to face with Colleen, the most senior vamp of her coven. Regan has been 'hunted' by Kite and Franky as the perfect mate for Colleen.

As the action swings back to Scotland, Layla is invited to a Burn's Night celebration with her friends Duncan and Ewan, who are besotted by her. It is here that the truth begins to dawn on Layla that she is not entirely human, that the blood that courses through her veins is very different to everyone else's.

Although this is primarily a book about blood-suckers, there is surprisingly little sex or gore, which is keeping in theme with the Twilight version of vampires and which may attract younger readers.

White's final climactic scene was a bit of a disappointment but a week after putting the book down, I'm still thinking of the main characters.

White has written two more novels to compete a triology and I for one am very much looking forward to picking up where I left off.

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