Tapping into the paranormal and vampire market has been the goal for many YA and fiction writers in recent years, and while the genre feels full to bursting, certain gems stand out, like Awakening from Tiera Rice. The first book of the Bloodline series, this novel creates two gripping tales for readers to enjoy, separated by 600 years, but linked by mysterious and ancient powers.
The book is almost equally split between the Old World and the New; Antanasia is a Romanian vampire from the 1400s, while Nadia is the unsuspecting heroine in present-day NYC, wrestling with emerging powers and the confusion of being undeniably “different.” Like many other vampire-oriented stories, Rice takes a unique angle on the relationship between the two races, and similar to Stephanie Meyer, paints certain vampires in a friendly, peace-seeking light.
The stark difference between writing styles based on the time period is incredible, revealing an author with a flexible pen and endless creativity – captivating readers with esoteric descriptions of Romania, complete with magical language and supernatural moments, which bookend amusing depictions and passages of modern life. The terse, hungry writing of the 15th century scenes butts up against the narration of a tough young girl who is dipping her toes (and teeth) into existence as a vampire. What readers are not told is the exact connection between these two dynamic women, nor when their storylines will cross paths. Separated by time, but not by blood, these two characters capture the imagination and are certainly strong enough to support a full series.
The peripheral characters are just as important as Antanasia and Nadia, particularly Mama and Vi, and they help to add color and perspective in a book that could easily have been swallowed up by the fantastical elements of paranormal fiction. Keeping the plot lines grounded in reality makes the message more clear – no matter what time period or part of the world, the base elements of human nature will eventually emerge. Jealousy, hatred, misunderstanding, hunger for power, lust and fear are universal, and present in both stories, and each woman must find her own way to survive, without compromising her soul.
Some of the scenes are truly gruesome, while others are intensely erotic, again showing the author’s flexed literary muscles. Nothing is done in bad taste, however, and there is never unnecessary gore or sex without a clear purpose. About halfway through the book, when Nadia begins having visions, readers begin to see how these two disparate halves of the novel connect, and as the action mounts and the tension builds, the edge of your seat will be the only place to sit. There are few wasted words, and only a minimal amount of errors that could have been spotted by an editor. The pacing of the novel is also dynamic, smoothly adjusting to the progression of the plot.
For readers seeking thoroughly developed characters and a suspenseful plot that doesn’t unravel until the very end of the story, along with plenty of action, sex and intrigue, this first installation of the Bloodline series is a solid choice. Signaling the beginning of an excellent series, and the career of a talented writer, Awakening is an impressive new offering in the vampire and fantasy genre.