“Humans were equal parts fragile and reckless, and they seemed unable to reconcile the two.”
What happens if you mix a little bit of Mean Girls with a bit of Charlaine Harris and a hint of Anne Rice? You *finally* get the YA vampire book that we’ve all deserved. Yeah. I said it, and Metallic Red (2020) by Jennifer Ann Shore is a sweet reminder that traditional publishing doesn’t always get it right. (Don’t sleep on the Indies.)
Mina Byron is a rarity. She is the half-human, half-vampire niece of the vampire King of Appalachia. As his only heir, she’s led a rather isolated existence with little to no involvement with the human world. In an effort to explore the part of her identity that her parents wish didn’t exist, she convinces her uncle to allow her to attend high school. Unlike her parents, he’s encouraged her to embrace her humanness, but that doesn’t mean he’s a push over; he sets his own terms and drives a hard bargain.
Mina does her best to go unnoticed on her first day of high school, but she makes the mistake of not only sitting in Brooklyn Winters seat but in catching the eye of Charlie, Brooklyn’s love interest. Mina’s human-side does very non-vampire-y things when she sees Charlie. Maybe it’s because it was just October 3rd, but the Mean Girls vibes, especially with Charlie’s hair, were an unexpected delight.
Mina being torn between two identities and two men but still remaining a badass (that metallic red pantsuit! Killer!) and never once being whiny was also an unexpected delight. She speaks her mind. She takes risks. She is not driven by her desire for approval by the men in her life. And despite not being raised to comprehend human social norms, she adjusts quickly and learns the value of meaningful relationships. Can we all get an Eloise, please?
Much like Mina has to reconcile her human-side with her vampire side, blend them so as not to deny one over the over, the reader has to reconcile the high school drama with some serious vampire world plotlines. The fact that Mina is concerned about the homecoming dance just after an event that literally shakes the vampire world to its core is so bloody realistic; we all remember high school and those questionable priorities of youth. I think forcing the reader to mirror Mina’s split condition is where the book excels. There are some parts that are a little clunky and some parts that are begging to be fleshed out more, but this novel is a biting success. I was very excited to see there will be more Mina and hopefully more Eloise. And Theo. (A vampire who has just a touch of witch in him? Yes, please.)
I wanted a vampire book for October, and I randomly selected one. It did not disappoint. Get this book in your hands now.