After seeing Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight Saga, I have to agree with critics that it is the best one yet. The screenwriter has taken great liberties with the book in order to accomodate the Team Edward/Team Jacob hype, but it works fairly well. Having my appetite for vampire stories whetted, I picked up Hearts at Stake, the first book in the Drake Chronicles, and was pleasantly surprised by how engaging it is. I'm fascinated by authors taking the basic vampire idea and making it their own.
In Hearts at Stake the author, Alyxandra Harvey, has imagined a very complex vampire world complete with a variety of vampire clans whose lineage is explained in great detail on the Drake Chronicles website at www.thedrakechronicles.com. Hearts at Stake introduces two best friends: Solange, who is waiting for her sixteenth birthday when she will change into a vampire, and Lucy, the feisty human, who is in love with Nicholas, one of Solange’s seven vampire brothers. In the Drake clan the vampires are human until their sixteenth birthday when they undergo the dangerous "bloodchange." They are genetically predisposed to be vampires, and when they begin the change, they must drink blood to stay alive. Solange's brothers managed to survive the passage, but she is the first female-born vampire in 800 years and a prophecy foretells that she will become queen and unite all the vampire clans. Lady Natasha, who is currently the queen, is determined that Solange won’t live to celebrate her birthday.
Lucy, Solange’s snarky, weapon-obsessed best friend, is aware of the situation and is determined to help Solange's family protect her. Lucy and Nicholas have been feuding their whole lives, but lately they find their animosity evolving into attraction. When Solange is kidnapped by Lady Natasha's minions, Lucy and Nicholas, as well as the rest of the Drake family, are determined to rescue her. They are aided by Kieran, a Helios Ra vampire hunter who initially attacks the Drake clan, looking to avenge his father’s death. When he discovers that his hatred of vampires is based on lies, he gives in to his attraction to Solange to help save her so that she may fulfill her destiny.
In Blood Feud, the second in the series, the story focuses on Solange's brother Logan and his attraction to Isabeau St Croix, a vampire from the Hounds Clan, who arrived at the eleventh hour to help rescue Solange. Isabeau survived the French Revolution, only to be attacked by the vampire Greyhaven and then buried for two hundred years until the Hounds rescued her. Logan is immediately attracted to her, but although she reciprocates his feelings, she is focused on finding Greyhaven and getting revenge. As Logan follows Isabeau on her quest, the clans are coming together for the coronation of Logan's mother Helena, who will preceed Solange as queen. However, the tenuous peace between the clans is threatened by Leander Montmarte, the 400-year-old vampire, who is the maker of the Host clan. He wants to marry Solange and usurp the throne for himself. Although Solange, Kieran, Lucy and Nicholas make guest appearances in the second novel, it primarily focuses on Logan and Isabeau working together to find Greyhaven.
For readers looking for action packed escapism, these books are great fun and offer a unique twist to the usual vampire fare. The conflict between the clans makes for an ongoing saga with a wide variety of characters to highlight. So far the romances in the Drake Chronicles follow a Romeo and Juliet formula. I'm wondering if the next book in the series will focus on another brother and his unorthodox love interest in the midst of the feuding vampire clans.