After Midnight

Lynn Viehl
After Midnight
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Release Date
May 2011
Book 1 of The Youngblood
Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Romance

Sophomore Catlyn Youngblood is used to the nomadic existence she and her two older brothers have shared since the death of their parents. When they settle down for good in the sleepy backwoods town of Lost Lake, Florida, Cat thinks they might finally fit in. Instead, they're shunned by the locals.

While riding her horse late one night, Cat meets an enigmatic and handsome boy named Jesse Raven. Even more strange than her overpowering attraction to him is Jesse's apparent aversion to the sun. As their attraction intensifies, long-kept secrets come to light. Cat learns that the Ravens are a centuries-old vampire clan . . . and worse still, that she and her brothers are descendents of Abraham Van Helsing, the world-famous vampire hunter. Mortal enemies by blood, the two families do all they can to keep them apart. But Cat and Jesse will risk everything to be together-including death.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Apr 18, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
176 people found the following review helpful
I have to admit, I'm rather glad that young adult novels of this kind weren't being published when I was younger. I'd never have had a social life. Or done my homework. Or graduated. I would have been too entranced with this book to do anything productive, completely captivated by this world of mysteries and memories and first loves. In truth, I was just as engrossed now as I would have been then. Having read most of Lynn Veihl's adult series, I was looking forward to her foray into young adult publishing, and am pleased to say she has outdone herself, yet again.

Catlyn Youngblood has always been an outsider. She and her two brothers, the surly, reticent Gray and fiercely protective Patrick, have moved all over the country since the death of their parents when Cat was very young. As a result, she has never had many friends, save the horses that her family has kept all her life. This time, they have moved into an old farmhouse in Lost Lake, Florida, a town that seems far too small for all the secrets it holds. Between the hostilities of the students at her new school and the increasingly odd behavior of her brothers, Cat is beginning to feel more alone than ever.

Until she meets her dark boy. Tall, beautiful and aloof, Jesse Raven immediately becomes the center of Cat's world. She becomes wrapped up in the mystery of him—the house on the island in the middle of Lost Lake that his family never leaves, the lingering stories about a family of Romanian circus performers who founded the town generations ago that are somehow related to the modern-day Raven family…and the curious condition that keeps Jesse from ever seeing the light of the sun…

It is in trying to save Jesse from the pain of the sunrise that their relationship is discovered. The two find themselves separated by their respective families, told that they must never speak again. It seems that there is bad blood between the Ravens and the Youngbloods that Cat is desperate to overcome. Following the discovery of a pack of letters written by her mother, she begins to fill in some of her family's missing history—not just her parents' secret love affair, but the strange secrets of a man named Van Helsing, and the gift (or curse) he passed on to his descendents. But, try as she might, Cat cannot unlock the key to her family's past. Because no matter how hard she tries, there are things she just can't seem to remember, pieces of memory that keep getting snatched if someone close to her was trying to keep her in the dark…

I think there is a definite risk for any new books about teen girls and vampires being compared to others that have come before (ahem). Thankfully, this book deals swiftly and decisively with this issue by blowing any comparisons out of the water.

Catlyn is a strong, resourceful main character with confidence in herself, even in the face of some monumental betrayals by those she loves dearly. She has the same foibles and insecurities of any teenage girl, but nonetheless has a heart of gold and an unbreakable spirit that had me cheering for her all the way.

And while the breed of vampire in this book was obviously mellowed a bit for the sake of age-appropriate consumption, Jesse and the Raven family are truly creatures of the night. They fear the sun and avoid iron and garlic, they are cold and beautiful and ageless. More than these stereotypes, though, Jesse is a genuinely complex character, who encompasses all the great qualities of literary vampires. He is tender, sweet and wise, and at the same time, incredibly strong, violent and hungry. It is a rarity to find a character who exudes such danger and attraction in equal measure, but Jesse steals every scene that he enters. The balance between his human insecurities and his immortal, possessive nature is a very tenuous one and I am really excited to watch how his relationship with Cat changes them both.

It is also rare to find a story like this with such interesting depth and complexity. It is steeped in the atmosphere and tradition of the best vampire literature and is a worthy addition to the canon. It is a book that has few real bad guys, and even fewer heroes. Instead, there is the tangled history of two ancient families, the weight of their destinies that threatens to crush each of them. It is a necessary evil of the genre that some plot points get tied up a bit swiftly, or perhaps too neatly, but be ready: there are ultimately very few simple characters or straightforward answers. Details are crucial, especially when it comes to the issue of Cat's memory problems. But stick with it. I can guarantee that, like me, you'll be gasping out loud at the final few plot twists, and begging for the promised second installment of this immensely promising trilogy.
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