Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: February 8th 2011
Source: Teen {Book} Scene

Synopsis: With a wink and a nod to Bram Stoker, New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites the casts of Tantalize and Eternal in a delicious dark fantasy her fans will devour.

Quincie P. Morris, teen restaurateuse and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life — or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who "blessed" her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running. She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature — and a flaming sword — and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late. Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul?

Although Blessed is technically the third novel in the Tantalize series, it can be considered as the true sequel to Tantalize since it picks up right from where the first book ended. Tying together the casts from the previous two novels, Blessed proved to be a thrilling continuation of the series by highlighting Quincie's dire situation and her transformation as not only a neophyte but as a stronger, more assertive young woman.

Instead of just hinting at the oncoming danger, Cynthia Leitich Smith seriously amped up the gravity of Quincie's situation by making it known exactly what was going to happen if she didn't step in and try to do something. Quince really matures in this installment, accepting her newly "blessed" status but refusing to feel sorry about herself; instead of moping, she focuses all of her energy into fixing what she can of the destruction that Bradley's left behind while somehow keeping her family business afloat. Despite all the hurdles thrown at her, Quincie tackles each one with brave determination.

She's also accompanied by her motley crew of friends who help her whenever a moment of fear or doubt creep up on her. Zachary, a new friend and one of the protagonists of Eternal, has more of presence than the rest of her friends and while his personal story is touched upon, he still takes a (rather comfortable) backseat to Quincie's story. Their friendship was particularly interesting to this reader because these two were able to show each other that not everyone is defined by their circumstances and that things can definetely change. Speaking of change, Quincie and Kieren's relationship finally reaches that point that everyone's been waiting for; they no longer hid behind their excuses and fully admit their feelings for each other. Their devotion for one another with all the chaos around them was completely endearing and will certainly please the readers that were rooting for them in Tantalize.

Perfectly merging her characters from her first two novels and still being able to demonstrate that Quincie was the star of the show, Cynthia Leitich Smith has done an excellent job with Blessed. Fans of Bram Stoker's novel will recognize parallels between Quincie's journey and that of the original cast of Dracula and those who aren't familiar with the novel will get a fun crash course while reading this novel. With quirky characters and devilishly dark plot twists, Cynthia Leitich Smith's Blessed was an entertaining and ultimately satisfying read.

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