Thursday, March 28, 2013

How the Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey took over my week
I started reading The Drake Chronicles, a six book series by Alyxandra Harvey, a week and a half ago.  I closed up book number six last night. Part of that was right books, right time – I was really needing a good escapist read that didn’t involve a lot of cognitive calisthenics.  The Drake Chronicles really fit the bill and I enjoyed getting caught up in the Drake Family drama.  Rather than review each book in turn I thought I’d do a short synopsis of each book – 2-6 and then write a little about what I particularly liked about the series.  My review of book one can be found here – Hearts At Stake.

First, an overview: Apparently book one was meant to be stand alone but I guess it was popular enough that an idea was hatched to turn it into one of those romance series where each sibling and their partner in love are focused on in turn ala the Bridgertons by Julia Quinn.  But this trope disappears by book five and it is stated that book six is the last despite that there are eight siblings in the Drake family (poor Marcus, Duncan and Sebastian).  I’d be interested in Alyxandra Harvey’s inside scoop on how and why things developed the way they did.  A couple inklings I had were 1) she seems to prefer to write from the female perspective and since 7 of the 8 drake siblings are male that might have thrown a barrier and 2) she may have wanted to move the books out of the romance focus and back into supernatural adventure with a side of romance. This is all to say that the series as a whole is a bit of a mess but this really didn’t interfere with my reading enjoyment.

Blood Feud:  Logan Drake’s the brother who likes to dress like an 18th century pirate and is all charm.  Isabeau was turned into a vampire during the French Revolution and is part of a mystical tribe of ass-kicking vampires called the hounds.  Their mission is to keep Montmartre and his hoard from kidnapping Logan’s little sister and to wreak a little vengeance on Isabeau’s behalf. 

Out for Blood:  Quinn’s the devilish brother who firmly believes he’s the prettiest and is rather popular with the ladies.  Hunter Wild is a vampire slayer attending vampire slayer high school, aspiring to be an agent in the vampire slaying league - Helios Ra.  Hunter needs Quinn’s help to investigate a mysterious illness plaguing students at Vampire Slayer High.

Bleeding Hearts:  Yay! Lucy’s back though this book is ostensibly about Christabel, Lucy’s bookish cousin and Connor Drake, Quinn’s twin brother who leans more towards computer geekery then collecting ladies’ hearts.  They discover an unrecognized tribe of vampires called the Na Foir who are causing all sorts of mayhem.

Blood Moon:  At one point Lucy asks Nicholas “What’s Wrong” to which he replies “Everything but you,” which aww…. and also, he ain’t kidding.  Things start to really go crazy for the Drake family as vampire tribes from all over the world gather for the historic Blood Moon meant to install Ma Drake as queen and Solange’s strange behavior escalates big time.

Blood Prophecy:  We find out what’s wrong with Solange and we get even, sort of, with the folks who kidnapped and tortured Nicholas in Blood Moon. This book is a total mess and has a strangely fizzled ending but I still enjoyed spending time with Lucy and the Drakes. 
Things I really enjoyed about this series:

1)   The humor:  This is really key for me. Too much angst and earnestness especially in a novel about vampire teenagers in love will have me grinding my teeth in record time.  These books have got a lot of great snarky banter and never take themselves too seriously.
2)   The characters:  Alyxandra Harvey has a gift, one that I think sometimes is rare, of creating characters that are easy to love and identify with even when they are 16 year old girls who tend to all be brain damaged (I know I was at that age).  Lucy Hamilton is by far the favorite who, in every way, lightens up each scene she’s in but I can honestly say there wasn’t a perspective character that I did not like.
3)    Different perspectives: I really enjoy books that have alternating perspectives and Harvey, for the most part, does this well, though books 2-3 are weighted heavily toward the female perspective chapters.
4)   The pace:  These books keep you rolling without stop or even slowing.  Chapters are relatively short which keeps the pace snappy and insures that you don’t get trapped too long in a perspective chapter that isn’t your favorite (I would say Blood Prophecy is the only one that struggled with this for me).
5)    The language:  The language is often poetic and there are some really beautiful comparisons and passages that will surprise you from time to time.  Her dialogue is pretty great.  She is also one of the best writers of steamy make out scenes that I’ve ever read – she gets the feelings and sensations all right without it coming across as anything but romantic. 

Final Verdict for the whole series: 3.75 out of 5 stars.  It’s incredibly fun and addictive reading especially if you’re in the mood for some escapist brain candy.  I think the fact that I devoured the whole series in a week and a half illustrates the appeal of these books. 

Have you read the Drake Chronicles?  What did you think? One thing I struggle with after an obsessive read like this is what to follow it up with – any suggestions? 

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