TANTALIZE, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (2007)
Interest Level: Upper Grades
I bought this book at TLA this year, and having read all three books in the TWILIGHT series, and being an overall fan of vampires in YA literature, I was excited to sink my teeth into this one. (pun intended) The story's lead character is named Quincie Morris, which is fitting--as the hero in Bram Stoker's DRACULA was named the same, if spelled differently. The book follows Quincie through the trials of opening a vampire-themed restaurant in Ausin, Texas, amid murder and intrigue, surrounding the brutal slaying of her chef. Quincie's uncle hires a new chef, Henry Johnson--who turns out to be a vampire--only not the loving hero that Edward of TWILIGHT fame is to Bella. I enjoyed this book, but will admit it took me until almost the very end to become completely absorbed in it. I found the discussion of the "werepeople" to be a little disconcerting. It was strange to me that the book seemed to have a very "real" quality to it, yet the existence of "shifters" was not strange to the "normal" people in the book. While I was reading it, I just assumed that since the setting was Austin, Texas--the werepeoples' existence was just helping to keep it weird. I became enthralled with the book during the last few chapters, and the ending made me think that a sequel could be very possible.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Cynthia at the YA conference at Sam Houston, and after hearing her talk about the process of writing this book, I ran home and read it again--and was enthralled the entire time.
On a side note, Cynthia's website is nothing short of amazing! Check it out!