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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review: The Vampire Wish (Dark World: The Vampire Wish #1)

Release Date: June 1, 2017
Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Length: 204 pages
Source: Review Copy via Author

TWILIGHT MEETS ALADDIN in this hot new fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Michelle Madow!

He’s a vampire prince. She’s a human blood slave. They should be enemies… but uniting might be their only hope to prevent a supernatural war.

Annika never thought of herself as weak—until the day vampires murdered her parents and kidnapped her from our world to the hidden vampire kingdom of the Vale.

As a brand new blood slave, Annika must learn to survive her dangerous new circumstances… or face imminent death from the monstrous wolves prowling outside the Vale’s enchanted walls. But not all in the kingdom is as it appears, and when a handsome vampire disguised as a human steps into her life, Annika discovers that falling for the enemy is sometimes too tempting to resist.

Especially when becoming a vampire might be her only chance to gain the strength she needs to escape the Vale.

Enter the magical world of the Vale in The Vampire Wish, the first book in an addictive new series that fans of The Vampire Diaries and A Shade of Vampire will love!

  

Review:

Protagonists: This story follows three characters' points of view. While there are only two characters that I would deem protagonists, with the other coming off as an antagonist, I want to talk about all three of them. First, we have Annika, a normal human girl enjoying Spring Break with her family when tragedy strikes and her parents, along with her brother, are murdered by vampires. Now she's a blood slave in the hidden Kingdom of the Vale. Wanting to no longer be helpless and a victim, Annika rebels against the vampires by stealing the food not meant for human blood slaves. Jacen is a newly turned vampire prince who wasn't able to control his bloodlust soon after turning and is now confined to the palace. Every day he practices his control and he feels he's ready to be around humans but his sire, the vampire queen, disagrees. Forcing him to sneak out of the palace, posing as a human, and entering the human village where he has a chance meeting with Annika. Camelia is a powerful witch with grander ambitions that just being Queen Laila's advisor. No, she wants to become an immortal vampire, and, more than that wishes to marry Jacen and secure her place in the hierarchy of the Vale. From a narrative standpoint, I love all of these characters. Annika is a great, and strong protagonist who is willing to fight for what she wants but she isn't as rash as some other female heroines. She understands her limitations all too well, but that doesn't stop her from doing what she knows she can do, and dreaming of a better life. Jacen is tormented by his bloodlust and while he has it mostly under control, much like Annika, he understands where to draw the line so he's rarely impulsive. He never wanted this life and he struggles with feeling like a monster. Camelia is a cold and calculating witch, she has ambitions that are within her grasp, but somehow cannot fully come to fruition without annoying trials and tribulations getting in the way.

Romance: I've had some difficult experiences with Madow's romances in her other books, and while I eventually came around to the main romance in the Elementals series, it did take a couple of books for me to get there. However, while I do feel the romance between Jacen and Annika is a bit fast-tracked, it's nowhere near as speedy as the source material, and I'll get to the source material in a bit. While there isn't all that much substance to their relationship yet, Annika and Jacen seem to be a great foil for one another. Annika has a desire to become a vampire and gain the strength, abilities, and freedoms that come with it, while Jacen is disgusted by what he's become and wishes to just live a normal life once more. They also share related interests and you can see some great chemistry that's not quite fully embraced in this story yet, but holds great potential. Another aspect I like is that Annika's desire to become a vampire doesn't stem from wanting to be with Jacen forever, though that would be a great plus, it's a more personal reason which adds some depth to her character.

World Building: Going into this story, and reading the synopsis I didn't quite see how this story could be anything meets Aladdin, but as the story unfolds I was shocked to discover that in many ways this story is a retelling of Disney's Aladdin but with vampires, witches, and shifters. I mean, it's a story that has to have been originally thought of to be a retelling, rather than a story simply borrowing elements of a classic tale. Though, it's not quite a strict retelling as the supernatural world building elements as well as the fact that this isn't a kid's book but a Young Adult one, seem to have lead the author to subvert some of the source material to match the tone and feel of the world and story she's created. One of my biggest grievances with this story is how much info-dumping there is in the beginning. I'm not opposed to learning more about this world, but it was that not only was it so dense in the beginning, but it was almost, if not, all told in first person exposition and so instead of learning about it organically, which for some of the world building would have been hard, if not impossible, to do so I would have forgiven it there, but for a lot of the exposition it would have been easy to add a few chapters before the post-prologue time jump and seen Annika or even Jacen learn about some of this world in a more organic way.

Predictability: During the exposition portion of this book as I've decided to call it before the Aladdin parallels fully kick in, this story was fairly unpredictable. I wasn't quite sure where the story would go, the synopsis does a good job to tease readers but not give them a good understanding of what they're in for, at least not in my experience. However, once the Aladdin story starts to get retold, while the author does subvert some of the plot points, it's pretty straight forward how things will progress. Don't get me wrong the author does still manage to have a bit of shock and awe in the story leading up to the rather interesting ending, but in all honestly, I was never really blown away by anything meant to be a twist after a certain point. I would just get a feeling of understanding rather than surprise.

Ending: After a certain point in the story it was obvious that the entirety of the story of Disney's Aladdin wasn't going to get told in just this one book, which makes sense as this is a series and there are more books yet to come. However, I was really interested in seeing where along the story it would end up and how certain plot points of the movie would play out with the world building established in this story. This story does end on a cliffhanger because of course, it does, and what's great about the cliffhanger here is that it isn't a huge "What's going to happen next?" question. It's obvious what'll happen next, but, at least for me, that knowing makes me all the more excited to read the next book. It's how that next chapter will unfold that has me chomping at the bit to read the next installment.

Rating:


On the whole, I loved this story. It was a fun variation on the Aladdin tale, specifically the Disney version, and I felt that Madow did a fantastic job of bringing various supernatural races into this story. However, with huge info-dumping portions in the beginning of the book and the fact that the retelling aspect was a bit too heavy-handed at times, I wouldn't feel that this book deserved five stars even though I enjoyed it so much. Also, I wouldn't call it Twilight meets Aladdin, as the world building is next to nothing like Twilight, and that characters are much stronger, at least in terms of their characterization, I would liken it more to The Vampire Diaries than Twilight.

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