View from the window seat:
This is not really the kind of book I like to read. The only vampire/werewolf series I’ve read is Twilight, and I read that with a hearty dose of irony (ok, fine, I still go to the midnight premieres and reread the series). But I saw the author on a panel about crossover fiction for YA and adults at ALA Annual and got a free copy after the session, so I figured I’d give it a try. Also the author was really funny in her talk during the panel and really nice when she signed my copy, so I was more inclined to read something out of my comfort zone. The premise was also very promising; I mean Queen Victoria is still alive and a vampire?! Sounds fun.
I can see how this would be considered crossover fiction; the protagonist, Xandra Vardan, is older than usual YA heroines (she’s 22), there’s some swearing, and there are adult relationships. I think the writing underestimates the YA audience, however. It’s very simplistic and repetitive, as if the young adults the publisher wants to read this book need this simplistic writing for it to be appealing.
The hook of Queen Victoria as a vampire proved to not be a major part of the book. She’s just in the background for most of it. Based on the ending, it seems like she might play a larger role in later books, but I was still disappointed.
I was frustrated with the main romance as well. It was just plopped into the story. There was no buildup; suddenly they were together. While I liked them together, I would’ve liked to see more development.
I did enjoy Xandra’s narrative. Yes, the writing was simplistic, but her voice really came through and I found her brash, sarcastic tone amusing. I like that she acts on her doubts about what happened to her sister and her determination to discover the truth of the mysterious circumstances that surround her.
While the premise was intriguing, the weak writing ultimately led me to be disappointed by this first book in the Immortal Empire series.
Note: I received this ARC from the publisher at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference.