Jessica Rules the Dark Side (Jessica #2) by Beth Fantaskey
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?
Hardcover, 309 pagesPublished
January 10th 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books (first published October 19th 2011)
Four Stars: The sequel is better than the first. Watch Jessica transform into a powerful, vampire princess as she races to solve a murder mystery.
Jessica is busy settling into her new life as the wife of the powerful, vampire prince, Lucias Vladescu. The two are desperately in love. Jessica is struggling with her new role as a ruling vampire princess. She shirks away from some of the more difficult aspects of her calling, not realizing the potential dangers of showing weakness. Lucias, understands all to well the need for Jessica to step up and accept and assert her new powers. The two hope to go before the vampiric council in order to become king and queen. Unfortunately, before that date a catastrophe occurs. One of the vicious Elders challenges Lucias' authority and then the next day he is found murdered. Worse, Jessica and Lucias find that someone has framed Lucias for the murder. Lucias insists that Jessica follow the law and have him imprisoned. Jessica learns that incarceration for vampires accused of treasonous crimes involves no blood. Without the vital blood, Lucias could die in a week. Jessica finds herself thrust into the position of head ruler. She must assert her power, while she desperately tries to uncover the true perpetrator and save her beloved husband. Plunged into the treacherous and cruel world of vampire politics, Jessica learns quickly to heed her dead mother's written words, "Trust no one." Can Jessica seize power and rescue Lucias?
What I Liked:
- I was thrilled to watch the metamorphosis of Jessica into the powerful Princess Antanasia. In the beginning, Jessica reverts back to the timid teenager we first met in Jessica's Guide to Dating the Dark Side. She is demure and fearful and unwilling to perform all of her duties. As the story unfolds, Jessica is forced into her new role and she eventually rises to the occasion and becomes a strong, competent leader. Her growth is amazing.
- I liked the added perspectives of Mindy and Rainero, Lucias' cousin. The pair provide some comedic relief. Mindy with her arsenal of magazine tips and witty dialogue is a fun addition. Rainero, at first meeting is an unemployed, long haired, disheveled surfer bum, who wears terrible t shirts, but he has some surprises in store for the reader. He quickly became my favorite character.
- I liked that this book is a departure from its predecessor. The story follows Jessica unraveling a treacherous murder mystery. There are many twists and turns along the way. I was glad to see it left the teenage high school scene behind and moved into a more mature, complex plot.
- I appreciate that Ms. Fantaskey's vampires fall in line with the more traditional ideas of vampires. They are far from the romantic versions we have grown accustomed to in today's literature. Instead, the vampires in her world are cruel, calculating and vicious.
- I liked finally getting to know Lucias. I struggled with his character in the first book, but this time he drops his shields and lets us inside his heart. His passionate feelings for Jessica are remarkable. Not to mention he is a regal and capable ruler. Again his dialogue is told in letters or emails, which I like.
And The Not So Much:
- I enjoyed the addition of Mindy to the story but I didn't like the switching of narrative view points between Mindy and Jessica, I found it to be distracting. I liked the use of the emails for Lucias' and Rainero's view points. The email dialogue worked well and fit seamlessly into the story vs. the transitioning narration.
- The book is a little over three hundred pages, but for some strange reason, the author divides it into over a hundred chapters. Often times a chapter concluded abruptly. I felt that all the chapter breaks broke up the flow. This book would have been much better without all the chapters.
- I felt the final explanations and revelation of the murderer was a bit hasty. Some of the details were brushed over and I was a little troubled by this. I wanted a bit more break down of the motives and actions behind the killing.
- I like Ms. Fantaskey's vision of vampires but I think she needs to flesh them out a bit more and describe their genetic abilities and powers if any. Right now I have numerous questions regarding the characteristics of her vampires.
Jessica Rules the Dark Side, was a surprisingly, good departure from the first book in the series. This book leaves behind the teenage antics of high school and thrusts us into the dark, vicious world of vampire society. This book is a great murder mystery. I enjoyed watching Jessica step up and accept her birth right and face down some of the menacing Elders, who want to see her fail. If you are looking for a new vampire read, try this book.
“Fear is the worst kind of grave, because it buries one alive.”
“I love you for eternity---and we will weather this small and temporary storm.”
“All things become stronger in sunlight and wind, yes?”
The Wedding of Antanasia Jessica Packwood and Lucius Valeriu Vladescu (Jessica #1.5) by Beth Fantaskey
Four Stars: This short little novella has everything you love in a good wedding.
This short novella can be read for free on Beth Fantasky's website. You can read many of the behind the scenes clips and check out the voting that helped shaped the final story. The wedding dress pictures are a must see (click on the photo to see the other options). The picture of the dress that Jessica wears is to die for! This novella picks up shortly after the end of Jessica's Guide to Dating the Dark Side. Jessica is busy planning for her big day. She and Lucias are head over heels in love. Finally, I grew to understand and like Lucias in this chapter. Mindy arrives with her Cosmo tips and makeup and hair styling equipment. I was glad to see that she and Jessica mended their fences. The ceremony and rituals that go,into the wedding are interesting and different. This is a quick, fun read. Especially for the romantics who love a good wedding. I highly recommend you take a minute and read it before delving into book two: Jessica Rules the Dark Side.
Jessica Dates the Dark Side(Jessica #1) by Beth Fantaskey
Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Harcourt
Three Stars: A book with a new presentation on teenage vampires.
It is the first day of school for Jessica Packwood. She is ready to start her epic senior year. Hopefully, she will create some wonderful memories, lasting friendships and even date Jake, the handsome boy down the road. Her morning begins with a rather strange encounter as she waits for the bus. An eccentric boy wearing a long black cloak watches her from across the street. Great, her first day of school may end up in a kidnapping or some other unspeakable horror, all because her parents insist on her taking the bus because it lowers environmental emissions. Thankfully, her big, yellow taxi arrives before there is an incident. As she settles down next to her best friend, Mindy, she hazards a glance out the window and sees the unusual boy standing in the road, Jessica swears she hears him call her given Romanian name, (that no one knows) Antanasia. Jessica arrives at school and she manages to push the unsettling encounter from her mind. That is, until the enigmatic boy turns up in her class. Who is this intruder in that irritating outfit? Events take a turn for the worse when her mother finds out about the young man and invites him to dinner. Now her crazy stalker is coming to dine on vegan fare at her home. Could her day get worse? Yes...turns out, Lucias Vladescu, is her betrothed, from Romania. It gets even more weird when she finds out he is a vampire prince and she is a vampire princess and she was promised in marriage in her infancy, as part of a pact to end the feuding between her vampire family and Lucias' family. There is no way that Jessica is going to have anything to do with that werido, let alone marry him. Or will she?
What I Liked:
- I loved the transformation of Jessica. She first appears as a shy, somewhat awkward teenager, uncomfortable with her outward appearance. Under Lucias' discerning eye, Jessica blossoms into a beautiful, regal capable princess.
- I liked delving into Lucias' character through his letters to his uncle. I thought this was a clever way for the reader to gain an inside view on his impressions of America, feelings toward Jessica and his obligations among other things. These letters were a perfect way for the reader to hear Lucias' voice without resorting to the dual point of view.
- I liked the Vampire Guide that Lucias presents Jessica, in order for her to understand and accept her vampire heritage. I just wish there was more of it.
- I appreciated the way Ms. Fantaskey married some of the traditional ideas of vampire lore with her own modern day ideas.
- One of my favorite parts of the novel was the trip to Romania and the Carpathian mountains, the home of vampires. The presentation of Romania was the perfect, foreboding vampire backdrop.
- I liked the appearance of Jessica's funny and sympathetic vampire uncle, Dorin. His character was fun, I just wish he was more prevalent.
And The Not So Much:
- Unfortunately, I never really fell under the spell of Lucias. At first he comes across as conceited, difficult and privileged. As the story unfolds there were times when I started to like him, for instance when he built Jessica up with kind genuine praise. I especially loved his ideas on chivalry, so refreshing. These brief flashes gave me hope that I would grow to love him, but alas with his evolution at the end, I was disheartened and I just could not like him wholeheartedly.
- I picked up this book expecting it to be a light, funny read. The book starts out that way, especially with Jessica's witty commentary. Somewhere along the way the book takes on a darker tone, while that necessarily is not a bad thing, I found myself wishing for more of the fun dialogue.
- There is a particular scene in the book that did not work for me. It was when all of Lucias' uncles arrive from Romania and the dine at a popular local steakhouse. Except they don't eat, (the vampires in this book do eat human food except in this instance) instead they order a plentitude of practically raw steak and then proceed to slurp out all the bloody juices and leave the meat. Okay, this is a big fail for me, if vampires are clandestine and trying to protect their true identities, a group of creepy, old men slurping steak drippings in a restaurant would certainly tip off the staff and other patronage that there was something not right about those men.
- This book has a predictable outcome, despite the author's best intentions to add drama and surprises.
Jessica's Guide to Dating the Dark Side, is a book that was far different from my expectations. Unfortunately, it was one of those stories that just didn't quite grab me. It is a good read, but nothing spectacular. This book will appeal to those who are fixated on vampires, but it didn't quite speak to me in the way I was hoping. I wanted a comedic, entertaining read, while this book does have some funny aspects, there was not as much as I was hoping for.
"The first time I saw him, a heavy, gray fog clung to the cornfields, tails of mist slithering between the dying stalks."
"When I am abducted by the menacing guy under the tree, Dad will probably insist my face only appear on recycled milk cartons."
"You'd be surprised how disgust turns to lust."
"Women should have curves, not angles. Not points."
"Okay, I was seriously buying them all thesauri for graduation."
"Tourists? Pooping in my castle? I bet nobody pooped unauthorized in the Vladescu estate."
"The gown curved over my breasts, then fell as sharply and abruptly as a waterfall cascading over a Carpathian cliff, ending in a sweep of silken train that swished like a whisper when I walked. Like the whispers that no doubt followed any woman who dared to wear this spellbinding dress."
Come back tomorrow for a guest post from author, Beth Fantaskey!