From the BLURB:
It's another awful year at Bathory High for Vladimir Tod. The evil vampire D'Ablo is hunting for a ritual that could steal Vlad's powers. His best friend, Henry, doesn't want to be his drudge anymore and it's getting harder for Vlad to resist feeding on the people around him. With the threat of D'Ablo looming closer and nightmares haunting him each night, Vlad realises that having a normal high school year is the least of his concerns. He needs to act fast, and even his Pravus powers won't save him this time.
This is the third book in Heather Brewer’s Vladimir Tod series. I read the first two books in this series and loved them... and Brewer continues the love in this third instalment.
Vlad is the only born vampire in existence. He had a vampire father and a human mother, both of whom are dead. Now Vlad lives with his aunt and is trying to cope with his vampire/human existence while also dealing with typical teen issues.
Vlad’s high school career got off to a shaky start... and tenth grade looks to be much of the same. Vlad’s vampire uncle and mentor, Otis, is going globe-trotter on his own adventure. Otis intends to keep in touch with Vlad via their mental connection... but once Otis leaves, Vlad only hears silence. He has no idea where Otis is or if he’s safe...
Otis aside, Vlad is also dealing with his complicated friendship with Henry... Henry who Vlad has known since they were boys, and who is Vlad’s ‘drudge’ (think, Renfield). Henry is expressing a desire to be cut-free from his drudge role, and his association with Vlad.
On top of all these problems, Vlad is still dealing with the Vampire council and their meddling.
The tension between Henry and Vlad creates a lot of stress, for Vlad and readers alike. This is a really poignant storyline; Henry’s drudge status aside, this is Brewer exploring a fading childhood friendship. Henry and Vlad have been friends for years. There were times when the relationship felt unbalanced, what with Henry being cool, handsome and popular with the high school ladies... while Vlad was labelled ‘emo’ and struggling with his awkward teenage/vampire phase. But throughout the first two books Brewer made it clear that these two had each other’s backs. Henry knew Vlad’s vampire secret, and Henry was one of Vlad’s few confidantes. They had a great bromance. But in ‘Tenth Grade Bleeds’ things between them are strained and Brewer is touching on a relatable conundrum - when you feel yourself drifting away from your childhood friends.
Henry met his gaze. His words were crisp, cold. “I’m tired of being your slave. I want out.”Brewer highlights the friendship strain further when Vlad is welcomed into the goth kids fold at school. Suddenly Vlad is presented with a friendship alternative to Henry – but what will it mean for Vlad to lose his drudge?
Vlad felt as if every ounce of air had been sucked out of his lungs, and he nearly staggered in an effort to catch his breath. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was like his best friend had been replaced by one of the pod people. He shook his head, confounded. “You...you really don’t want to be my drudge anymore?”
This storyline is Brewer at her best. Yes, ‘Vlad Tod’ is a vampire series – but beneath the fantasy veneer Brewer is exploring universal teen issues. That she does so with such mythological aplomb is just one of the reason I love this series.
But of course this is a YA vampire series... so there’s also plenty to sink your fangs into. The vampire council storyline, planted in the first two books, is further explored in ‘Tenth’... and the plot thickens. Not to give anything away, but Vlad is in trouble with the council and there could be a reckoning in store for him. I love the contrast of Vlad’s dramatic vampire-related problems, versus his typical teenage struggles. The wider plot scope reflects Vlad’s inner battle between vampire and teenage boy, and it’s a great exploration and character arc.
But the vampiric plot is more interesting for the finer details Brewer explores. This third book has quite a darker, gothic bent as Vlad starts to exhibit some disturbing vampire behaviour. At some point in this book you start to wonder if you’re reading about a monster in the making... or if Vlad’s humanity will win over his baser vampiric urges. This book definitely delves deeper into Vlad’s psyche and his struggle for normalcy... it’s a fascinating character progression, and I can’t wait to continue on Vlad’s journey.
Box Set - Novemeber 11th 2010