Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising

By Jason Henderson

Fourteen year-old, Alex Van Helsing has been sent away to a boarding school in Lake Geneva, Switzerland by his parents in an effort to escape difficulties he had at his previous school.  And trouble likes to follow Alex.

Early on it turns out that Lake Geneva has seen some strange unexplained deaths that have become more frequent.  Alex encounters one such bizarre death but can’t quite believe what he’s seen.  Unsure of what to make of it, he keeps it to himself as he continues to witness strange occurrences around him.

Pretty quickly, Alex comes to learn whom he is – that he is a descendent of the original Van Helsing and that his family has been part of a secret vampire-hunting community known as the Polidorium. His literature teacher, Mr. Sangster, befriends him and becomes a mentor to him. Alex also gains plenty of help from his school friends Sid, Paul, Minhi who all get pulled into a world where vampires do exist.  With their help, the Polidorium investigate why Lake Geneva has all of a sudden become the destination to be for vampires.   In the process they come face to face with head vampire, Icemaker. 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein also becomes a critical part of Alex’s world.  The premise of how the story of Frankenstein came to be serves as an invaluable roadmap for the Polidorium.  I love how the author intertwined the historical characters behind it into this story adding suspense and just enough creep factor.  (Bram Stoker's Dracula is also mentioned a few times.)

I have to admit that this was a different kind of book for me and I’m glad I read it.  Alex and his friends are likeable characters who are smart and fun and they don’t come off as helpless.  I'm looking forward to seeing where their next adventure takes them.  

So if you’re looking for something quick and action-packed, this is a great book to start with. And if you're so inclined, the second book in the series, "Voice of the Undead" comes out July 26.


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