The Vampire's Beautiful Daughter

S.P. Somtow
Illustrated by Gary A. Lippincott

Atheneum Books for Young Readers. $17.00


Mixed racial background may be "the thing" at Claudette Colbert High School, but Rebecca Teppish's is stranger than most. Rebecca may be human, but her father is a vampire . The other kids think she is joking, but Johnny believes her. After all, he's met Vlad Teppish and some of Rebecca's vampire friends. Johnny and Rebecca quickly find themselves falling in love, which might be a dangerous thing. On her sixteenth birthday, just three days away, Rebecca must decide, once and for all, whether to become a vampire or to stay human. "Love is stronger than death," she tells Johnny. But is she speaking as a human -- or as a vampire?

The Vampire's Beautiful Daughter is a fast, hip, glib novel that deals, a little too obviously, with coming to terms with a mixed heritage. Rebecca deals with it one way, choosing to the exclusion of all else; Johnny by trying to accept everything: "I'm a mutt," he declares, "and I'm proud to be a mutt." Johnny is a smart kid, but even in his voice the lessons are preachy and forced; at one point, Johnny actually says, "This is what I learned..."

More disappointing yet, some aspects of the novel fall apart under even moderate scrutiny. Under the author's own rules of vampirism, Rebecca is not required to make her decision when she turns sixteen; her sixteenth birthday is simply the earliest opportunity. Yet the artificially critical deadline is the driving force behind the story's breakneck pace. That fast pace is another point of criticism; for instance, the biggest event of the story -- Rebecca's ceremonial "devivification" -- is tossed off in three pages; the novel itself is a mere 116 pages. Rebecca, Vlad Teppish, and even Johnny's grandfather might seem more comfortable in a more languid setting; and if Johnny himself would be impatient with anything slower, maybe he is not the best narrator for the story. You can't help but wonder what we might have seen through Rebecca's eyes....

Atheneum's Dragonflight series for young adults is intended to bring together the best authors and artists in the field of fantasy today. S.P. Somtow's earlier Dragonflight book, The Wizard's Apprentice, takes place in the same town as The Vampire's Beautiful Daughter.

 

A shorter version of this review originally appeared in the May 3, 1998 edition of The Roanoke Times.

Also by S.P. Somtow:

The Wizard's Apprentice. Atheneum,

Other Vampire Reviews

This review copyright 1998 by Wendy Morris
Information last updated January 17, 1999


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