Sarah's Reviews > Hearts at Stake

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
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's review
Feb 20, 2012

it was amazing

Smart, dark, witty and exciting, this was a refreshingly original spin on vampire lore and a very romantic young adult novel. Solange and Lucy have been best friends forever, but their lives are about to change as Solange approaches her sixteenth birthday, when she will either transform into a vampire and fulfill an ancient prophecy, or die for good. Solange is the only daughter born to an ancient vampire family dynasty, and her very existence has started a war of which she wants no part. But as fascinating and compelling as Solange's story is, this book belongs to Lucy. Told in first-person narrative voice chapters alternating between Lucy and Solange, it begins just days before Solange's birthday. Lucy is a fierce, brave and loyal friend, and is doing her best to take Solange's mind off the upcoming change (and the fact that half the vampire world wants her). Although human, Lucy has grown up with the Drake family, and is as much a warrior at heart as Solange's older brothers and their mother. (And I loved the fact that Helena Drake is the warrior and her husband the diplomat - this is one book with serious girl power.)
Lucy is a great character - she is intelligent, flawed, funny and scared, but keeps moving forward out of love and loyalty. And as she and Solange are caught up in the fighting, Lucy discovers that Nicholas, one of Solange's older brothers, likes her and not the way a big brother would, which is how he's treated her for years. Their new relationship is born under pressure, as they race to save Solange and survive, and is sweetly realistic as stolen touches and kisses ignite their new feelings.
This is one of those rare books that combine outstanding characters and really good action. So often I read books that have one or the other, but not both. I felt like I knew Lucy, Solange and her family, and I liked them. Even Lucy's parents, who are only mentioned in asides and comments (they've gone on an annual pilgrimage during Hearts at Stake), create a vivid impact, the force of their personalities making them characters in the story.
The pace is fast, fast, fast - it was impossible to put this book down. Every chapter ending left me wanting more. Switching narrators between Solange and Lucy was a great technique, as it really kept the action going and let the reader gain a broader perspective of the storyline. The writing was confident, smart and darkly charming, creating a fantastic story.

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