Eternal, by Cynthia Leitich Smith

eternalAuthor: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Horror
Pages: 320
Call number: Y Smith (available soon!)

A twist on the boy meets girl story: Guardian angel watches over teenage girl and falls in love. Girl is marked for death according to the laws of Heaven. Guardian angel makes big, big mistake in saving girl from her appointed death and loses his wings as punishment. Meanwhile, because of guardian angel’s screw-up, girl is captured and made into vampire. Fast forward a year. Girl is a vicious, blood-sucking fiend, the daughter of the vampire king, and ex-angel is sent to their estate to save her soul and earn back his wings. Bloody hijinks ensue.

I haven’t read Tantalize, the first book set in this alternate world, so I can’t compare the two, but Smith’s marriage of dark humor and true horror is sometimes jarring but always compelling (and sometimes very funny, though you may cringe at the same time). Heaven appears to be a stuffy bureaucratic organization (a memo from the angel Gabriel to another angel, including a request to fill out forms, is very amusing), while the vampire world is reminiscent of excruciatingly polite high-society on the surface, with goth decadence and callus displays of cruelty underneath. That alone make this book worth reading, but Zachary and Miranda, the boy and girl in question, are also intriguing characters throughout. In a triumph of characterization, Miranda remains sympathetic despite her descent into monster-hood. The ending to the love story (because it does become one, though a twisted one) is moving and hopeful in a way you don’t expect, as well.

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