Friday, April 17, 2009

Shattered Mirror

Shattered Mirror
© 2001 Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
227 pages

Given the current Twilight mania, I am just a touch self-conscious about reading a vampire novel written for young adults. Back in high school I read Atwater-Rhodes' In the Forests of the Night, and found it entrancing. Her world was different from the fantasy settings I'd read about before, and her rules seemed to make more sense. It was also dark, but not off-puttingly so. A few months back I finally got around to reading another novel of hers, and here I read a third. The book is written in the third-person, but sometimes seemed like first-person, as most of the book is spent in the protagonist's -- Sarah Vida -- head. Interestingly, Sarah is very much like Rhodes' previous protagonists: teenage, female, living on the fringes, "dark", strong, and very stubborn and independent. Despite this, Sarah is fundamentally different from the other protagonists: Risika was a vampire, Jessica Shade a human, and Sarah a witch.

Witches were mentioned in In the Forests of the Night as being vampire-hunters, but in Demon in my View, we learned through the story of Jessica Shade that witches seek to protect humanity from the vampires who prey on them -- although it is clear that some witches enjoy killing vampires for the sake of killing. I found this idea very intriguing, so I was delighted to learn that this book's protagonist was a witch -- and specifically, a hunter. Using an ability to detect vampiric auras, superhuman strength, and magic knives, she and her kin seek out vampires and kill them. As the book begins, Sarah and her family have recently moved to a small Massachusetts town, prompted by Sarah accidentally destroying part of her school in a recent hunt. (This reminds me of Riordian's Percy Jackson series, in which Jackson seems to switch schools every book after destroying part of each school he visits by defending himself against monsters. ) As soon as Sarah enters her first classroom, she immediately catches the attention of two teenage vampires.

Sarah's life and the lives of the two vampires -- Nissa and Christopher -- will be drawn into friendship and conflict as Sarah tries to reconcile the rules of her family, her moral imperative to kill vampires, and the confusion that is wrought when her family's leading target turns out to be connected to the two vampires Sarah meets. Atwater-Rhodes expands her universe in this book, adding in a "SingleEarth" organization -- a union of vampires, witches, and humans who want to live peacefully together. Compared to the two other books I've read by her, this one was "busy". I think this is so because there are more principle characters. In the Forests of the Night had two, Risika and Aubrey: their power conflict constituted the plot of the book. Demon in my View had three: Jessica Shade, Aubrey, and a teenage witch who tries to protect Jessica from her and Aubrey's increasing interest in one another. This book has four principle characters and three more who cannot be ignored. Consequently, there were times I had to pause and re-read parts of the book to keep track of what was happening. Regardless, the book was a quick and enjoyable read.

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