Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Review: Rules for Vampires by Alexandra Foulkes


by Alexandra Foulkes
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Paranormal
368 pages
ages 9 to 12

The Nevermoor series meets Hotel Transylvania in this dazzling debut middle grade adventure set in a world of talking spiders, living forests, and haunted castles about a vampire girl who wants to fit in but first must defeat an evil ghost.

After one hundred years of being a vampire, it’s time for Eleonora to have her Birthnight. Since Leo’s last rite of passage, her Grimwalk, ended with her losing her right leg and a good deal of her confidence, she’s hoping to redeem herself in the eyes of her mother, the fearsome Lady Sieglinde. All Leo has to do is hunt down and kill her first prey, and she already has the perfect plan. After all, who will miss an orphan from the bleak St. Frieda’s Home for Unwanted Children?

But an accidental fire causes more death and destruction than Leo bargained for. Instead of killing one carefully selected victim, she’s created several ghosts from the orphanage residents. And one sinister specter, the Orphanmaster, is poised to terrorize the living residents in a nearby town. To stop him and try to undo some of the mess she’s made, Leo must team up with the orphan ghost Minna.

Will Leo have the chance to prove herself as a vampire before her Birthnight is over, or will she discover that there are no winners in the battle of undead versus undead?



A little horror, a little gore, adventure, tons of humor, and imagination pure make this into a read to get lost in and wish it continued without an end.

Leo is a vampire, and it's her Birthnight. To allow her to pass into full-fledged, vampire adulthood, she needs to go on her Hunt and kill her first human. But things don't go as planned. Not at all. Instead, she ends up with ghosts, a powerful evil force, an impossible quest, and a whole ton of unforeseeable happen-chances. 

This is a fun novel from start to finish. The beginning already starts a bit mysterious, not making it totally clear what Leo is and letting her life slide in comparison with that of a normal 'human' girl. Which is clever in so far that it lets the reader build up a familiarity with her before her 'monsterly' side takes over. And she can be monsterly. There is a touch of horror and things can get tense and gruesome-ish. This isn't roses and whimsical twirls, but still, with added quirky moments such as talking spiders and flying objects and things just not going as planned, there's enough humor built in to keep it at the middle grade level. And definitely enough surprises and challenges to keep the reader glued to the pages.

The plot moves right along with tons of difficult moments, unsure relationships, high tension scenes, and deadly stakes....in both senses of the word. The family weave is difficult, to say the least. And yet, there is an odd sense of bonding, although wholesome would never be the correct word. Friendship also takes rocky forms, and there's the problem of not always meeting parental expectations. But Leo stays true to herself, which is an odd balance in itself, and creates a character to root for from beginning to end.

I can only hope there will be a book two to see what Leo might be up against next.  

This review was featured on Twinkl as part of their Great & Ghostly Guide to Halloween.

And here he is...

Alexandra Foulkes is from Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands of England, and she’s lived in and around the Staffordshire Moorlands all her life, now with her boyfriend and their dog, Mac, who is just small enough to sit on the back of a broomstick (very convenient!). She works as an inclusion support assistant (a fancy term for TA) at a school where she used to run the library. Alexandra’s passion is amazingly fantabulous books for children. When she’s not reading and reading and reading, she’s writing her very own stories with chills, thrills, and maybe even a talking spider! Visit her online @FoulkesWrites.

1 comment:

Heather N. Quinn said...

Second try: That sounds like the sort of Halloween read a lot of people would love! Cool twist on an old premise.