Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Vanquishers

Bayon, Kalynn. The Vanquishers
September 20th 2022 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Malika "Boog" lives with  her parents in San Antonio, Texas at the end of a cul de sac near good friends Cedric (who lives with his scientist dads) and Jules (who lives with their grandmother, 'Lita). It's been twenty years since vampires have gone extinct, so most people no longer believe in them or follow the protective protocols that Boog's parents follow; cleaning the house with garlic and silver water, not going out at night, warding the yard, and always being aware. When the group befriends Aaron, who has moved onto the street with his mother, Boog impulsively invites him to a barbecue-- and her parents freak out. Her mother even drops a cooler when the new neighbors come to the door, proving that they are not vampires when they come across the threshhold without being asked. Since 'Lita was a Vanquisher (vampire hunter) who helped with the Reaping (when all the vampires were killed), the kids know this isn't a joke, but since it's been so long, they think the parents are overreacting. So do some people at school, like new guidance counselor Mr. Rupert. When Aaron goes missing at a skating party, the parents' preparations go over the top, with consecrated graveyard dirt being added to the backyards and more garlic water deep cleaning occurring. When Boog sees Aaron in the yard and he asks her to meet him in the park after dark, the kids know that something is really, really wrong, but try to figure out how to fix the problem on their own. Will this lead to more tragedy, or do they have the Vanquishing skills they need. 
Strengths: This did NOT help my irrational fear that I will be attacked by a vampire while blow drying my hair. (Wouldn't hear one or see it in the mirror. Argh!) This was a phenomenally well paced book with a vividly described world that sucked me in right away. I loved how the parents were an integral part of the kids' lives, but they were also perfectly in the background. We see the shared glances, and Boog knows something is up, but like many middle grade students, she is more concerned with helping her friend despite her parents' warnings. 'Lita, as a former Vanquisher but also a grandparent, was perfect. The school employees are great, too, and I appreciated that even though Ms. Mason wore skirt suits and kitten heels, she wasn't evil. Don't want to spoil the trajectory of the story by saying too much more. 
Weaknesses: This would benefit from an older looking, more serious cover. This looks like Giles' The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, which I enjoyed but which does not circulate as well as I had hoped. Vampire books require a tricky balance to appeal to my readers fifteen years post-Twilight, and while the story is fantastic, it might need to be hand sold. 
What I really think: I've read a lot of vampire books, and know that it takes a good hook and a solid mythology to really sell the story, and The Vanquishers manages to do this well. Of course, now I have even more reasons to never go to Texas, but I think this book will do well with my horror fans. 

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good, vampire read with tons of action. Although the cover does scream (imo) more humor and lower middle grade. I guess this doesn't fit, huh?