Review: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Friday, August 19, 2011

Genre: young-adult, supernatural fiction
Series: N/A though I hope for more!
Pages: 398 (Nook ARC version)
Published: expected September 2011
Source: publishers via S&S Galley Grab
Rating: 4/5

Oh man, did I have fun with this book. A teenage girl vampire with a conscience? A vampire stabbed through the heart by a unicorn's horn to gain said conscience? Yeah - I admit I was sold by the premise alone. Far too many authors take their vampires/werewolves/superantural/paranormal creatures far too seriously, and Ms. Durst's snarkily humorous take on the monster was fresh and above all, fun. Somewhere between the characters themselves and the randomly frequent snarky/snide allusions to Twilight, I found myself having more fun with a vampire story than I have for quite a long time.

In this very complete world of Ms. Durst's, vampires are both born or made from humans. Pearl is a born vampire, meaning she's never been human, never been in the sunlight, and never had a conscience. Durst stays true to the most original interpretation of the nightwalking bloodsuckers: they're sensitive to Holy Water, repelled by garlic, flammable when exposed to the sun and they do not sparkle. Hunters in every sense of the word, Pearl's Family is a powerful clan aiming to increase their sway through the upcoming Fealty Ceremony. Since the type of vampires in this novel can be born not just made("turned" is the vocabulary here), the induction into a full-fledged vampiress is an important one; indeed, one that the powerful and bloodthirsty King of New England vampires will be present for, and observe closely. 

Pearl, the before mentioned young female vampire, within the first chapter is stabbed through the heart by a unicorn. This supposedly mythical creature's actions start to change Pearl from the typical prototype vampire. She feels emotions, guilt even, and thus is the only one of her kind to do so. By a fortuitous disaster, Pearl also learns she is the first "daywalker" of her kind: the stabbing the caused her consicence to grow also allows her where no other vampire can go. Thus the young Pearl is selected to "hunt" in the high schools in order to provide a feast for the hundreds of vampires planning to descend on her town for the Fealty Ceremony. Underneath this immense pressure, Pearl emerges as a believable teenager; one I grew warmer to (ha) the longer she remained in the sunlight. I really enjoyed Pearl and reading from her perspective: not too whiny, not too boy crazy and just the right amount of bad-ass, ass-kicking female. Pearl is by far the highlight of the novel: both my favorite character and consistently the most interesting person on the page. I want to read more stories about Pearl now.

The characters besides Pearl were also mostly enjoyable, personable and vivid. From wannabe vampire hunters cum comedic duo, Matt and Zeke could be counted on to make me snort with laughter each time they appeared. Bethany, though perhaps a bit too wide-eyed to be entirely real, was a nice counterpoint for Pearl's harsher attitude and perspective. Evan, the love interest, manages to stir up real chemistry with Pearl while maintaining an aura of mystery and keeping his distance. He remains a separate character; one not dependent on Pearl. Once again, I cannot impress upon you how HAPPY it makes me when a real relationship is charted, and matures through the novel. Pearl and Evan don't immediately "fall in love forevaa!!" nor spend three hundred pages pining for one another. It's a nice change from some YA paranormal stories.

The interesting set-up, the time-limit and unique proclivities of Pearl make the pace of this novel fly by. It's one of those books a reader picks up to peruse for a minute and is immediately lost within. It may drag on a bit long (in my opinion) after Pearl gains her conscience and before the King arrives, but that is a minor quibble. The secret "twist" about the unicorn was also a bit heavy-handed and obvious but far from the worst offender I've come across in that regard. Ms. Durst has crafted a very-well planned and thought-out alternate universe in which her characters can play; from new ideas on the prevalent-in-literature vampirism ("blood heists", "blood drunk" and of course the crucial, plot essential "Fealty Ceremony") to amusing and rarely used mythical creatures (when's the last time you read about a unicorn in fiction?) this is a novel that should be read and enjoyed by many people. I highly enjoyed this novel, and I think it will find love from a widely varied audience.
If you see it on a bookshelf in your near future, buy it, read it, love it.


  1. This goes in the TBR pile for sure. I've read lots of good reviews of it so far.

  2. This is definitely on my TBR pile now :D

  3. I nabbed this one from the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab because it looked cute, and now I'm looking forward to reading it even more :)

  4. Awesome review! I'm really looking forward to reading this one! Sounds cute and fun!

    Check out my blog if you get a chance!

  5. Libby: it's so fun! Reaaaddd it.

    Gabbi: I am glad! I haven't had that much fun with a vampire novel in a while!

    AL: I hope you review it! I'd love to see your thoughts on Pearl and Co.

    Amanda: Thanks so much! :D I try to make them readable. I'm heading over to check out yours now.

  6. i nabbed this 2 one from the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab because it looked cute, and now I'm looking forward to reading it even more :D

  7. This book sounds fab! Put it on my TBR list!

  8. I hope you like it roro! It's seriously awesome.

  9. Great review on a great book! I really enjoyed it too.


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