Conclusive wrap-up for characters
In Cynthia Leitich Smith’s BLESSED, teen restaurant manager and new vampire Quincie Morris finds herself struggling to handle the demands of saving her restaurant, hundreds of souls, and her relationship with werewolf-hybrid Kieren. With help from a beautiful new hire, Zachary, and his friends, Quincie must race to stop Bradley Sanguini’s quest to make himself into a modern Dracula, complete with his own army of fledgling vampire minions. In the process, Quincie also must consider what her vampire soul is worth.
BLESSED combines the casts of TANTALIZE and ETERNAL to provide a conclusive wrap-up to the supernatural story world Smith has created. While the first two books were companion novels, BLESSED is a true sequel that merges the two previous storylines to provide a satisfying ending for each character’s story. Strong themes about faith, redemption, and self-sacrifice run through the novel and are examined in non-preachy ways. Quincie experiences much more character development here than in the first book, and fans of Kieren and Quincie will be delighted to see their relationship developed beyond the first sparks seen at the end of TANTALIZE. The novel also explores the vampire myths of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA and links them in believable ways to a modern setting.
Though I enjoyed seeing Quincie, Kieren, and Zachary’s stories brought to a close, this installment has many of the same weak points as its predecessors. Dialogue comes across as stilted and unbelievable at times, and there are a few abrupt transitions between scenes. Again, like in TANTALIZE, attempts to infuse sensuality into the text felt a bit forced, as though the author was trying noticeably to be edgy. A few items regarding the mythology were left unresolved, and an overreliance on summarizing Stoker’s DRACULA weighed down the middle section of the book. Additionally, while the division of the novel into meal courses felt creative in TANTALIZE, the use of the same structure now felt trite and unnecessary to understand the story.
In all, BLESSED provides a nice final course for the characters Smith created in TANTALIZE and ETERNAL, but the book didn’t offer anything to make it stand out in the word of young adult paranormals other than its darker tone and its reboot of the Dracula myth. Fans of Smith will still undoubtedly eat up this conclusion though.
ETA: I learned after writing this review that the author plans to write one or two additional books in this universe, so this was not the end of the series. Things felt fairly well concluded for all of the characters at the end of this book, so this news surprised me.
Note: This review refers to an advance reader's copy.