Author: Catherine Yu
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Source: Manda Group
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 20, 2022
In this velvet-clad 1990s gothic horror, Aja encounters a charming vampire who wants to lure her into the woods—just like her missing sister.
No one ever pays attention to sixteen-year-old Aja until her perfect older sister Fiona goes missing. In the days leading up to Fiona’s disappearance, Aja notices some extraordinary things: a strange fog rolling through their idyllic suburban town, a brief moment when the sky seems to rain blood, and a host of parasitic caterpillars burrowing their way through the trees. Aja’s father, the neighbors, and even her ex-friend Mary all play down this strange string of occurrences, claiming there must be some natural explanation. It seems everyone is willing to keep living in denial until other teens start to go missing too.
Aja is horrified when she meets Padraic, the vampire responsible for all the strange occurrences. His hypnotic voice lures her to the window and tells her everything she’s longed to hear—she’s beautiful and special, and he wants nothing more than for Aja to come with him. Aja knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she’s barely able to resist his enthrallment. And following him into the woods may be the only way to find Fiona, so she agrees on one condition: He must let her leave alive if she is not wooed after one week. Though Aja plans to kill him before the week is out, Padraic has his own secrets as well.
In the misty woods, Aja finds that Padraic has made his nest with another vampire in a dilapidated church infested by blood-sucking butterflies. Within its walls, the vampires are waited on and entertained by other children they’ve enthralled, but there is no sign of Fiona. Before her bargain is up, Aja must find a way to turn her classmates against their captors, find her sister, and save them all—or be forced to join the very monsters she wants to destroy.
Aja had always lived in her sister’s shadow, until Fiona disappeared on her eighteenth birthday. At the same time, strange things start happening in their small town. The rain looks like blood falling from the sky and lots of caterpillars are burrowing into trees. One evening, a young man named Padraic meets Aja at her window. She has a feeling that he knows about her sister’s disappearance, so she follows him into the woods. Padriac is a vampire, who is responsible for the strange things happening in town. Aja can’t help but be hypnotized by Padriac’s charm, though she tries to resist him while she looks for clues to her sister’s disappearance.
This was an intense vampire story. There were some gruesome scenes involving blood and bugs, caterpillars and butterflies. I did predict the twist at the end, but it was a wild, fast-paced story that kept me hooked until the end.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced vampire story, I recommend checking out Direwood!
Thank you Manda Group and Page Street Kids for providing a physical copy of this book.
What to read next:
Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker
Have you read Direwood? What did you think of it?