Utah author Jessica Day George puts a fantasy spin on the legacy of the Dracula family in her young adult novel “Silver in the Blood” set in Romania near the end of the 19th century.
Dacia Vreeholt and Maria Louisa “Lou” Neulander are cousins who have enjoyed New York City’s society with shopping, socials and other events. Their mothers are Romanian and they, along with their unattached Aunt Katarina “Kate” Florescu, have ensured that the outgoing Dacia and the much quieter Lou learned about Romanian history.
When the girls turn 17 and there is more than a hint that a suitor would like to marry the tall and willowy Dacia, their parents send the girls to Europe, a trip which includes meeting many of their Florescu relatives in Romania.
Dacia travels with her Aunt Kate, as Dacia’s mother is expecting, and a stop in London proves tempting for Dacia as she almost runs off to elope with Lord Johnny Hardcastle. Lou travels with her parents and her younger brothers, who are twins, and stop in Paris on their way to Bucharest, known as “Little Paris” at the time.
Dacia and Lou hear whispers about their family and try to piece together what the Claw, the Wing and the Smoke are. There’s also more to figure out about the dashing Prince Mihai Dracula, heir to the old royal Dracula family and who has eyes for Dacia, and the connection between the Dracula and Florescu families. It’s difficult to make sense of their Romanian relatives, who aren’t telling them anything beyond cryptic sentences, including their very formidable grandmother, Lady Ioana.
They run into Lord Johnny in Romania, along with Thoephilus Arkady of Turkey, as the men work for a secret society to investigate the political maneuverings of a family of apparent shape shifters.
None of it makes sense to the gently bred society girls until Dacia and Lou are shown the family secrets and their place in their family’s centuries-old legacy, which them with a choice of either honoring their family or fighting against them and their larger plans.
“Silver in the Blood” is told through perspectives of Dacia and Lou, including their letters and journal entries, as they travel to Romania and slowly uncover the Florescu family’s secrets. At times, the storylines unravel at a frustratingly slow pace as Dacia and Lou struggle to make sense of the situations and maintain their place in society. The pace does pick up as the girls get the answers they’ve sought and George takes readers on an adventure through the capital city of Bucharest, the Florescu’s country estate and the royal palace. With a rebellion looming and romance in the mix, it makes for an overall adventurous and entertaining story.
George’s descriptions of Romania, including the area and traditions, help share the beauty of the country, give the story added depth and are detailed thanks to a trip she took there.
The novel doesn't have any swearing and the described romances don't go beyond kissing. There are injuries and death in a battle scene that are generally described.
While "Silver in the Blood," which is scheduled to be released on July 7, is a stand-alone novel, the ending does leave open the possibility of a sequel.
George, a Brigham Young University graduate and Salt Lake City resident, is the author of the Twelve Dancing Princesses series for young adults and middle grade readers, the Dragon Slippers series and Castle Glower series, including “Tuesdays with the Castle,” which was on the New York Times’ best-seller list. A fourth book in the Castle Glower series, “Fridays with the Wizards,” is scheduled to be released in February 2016. George has also recently signed with Random House for a young adult series, the first of which is to be published next year.
If you go ...
What: Jessica Day George book signing
When: Tuesday, July 7, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.
When: Wednesday, July 29, 7 p.m.
Where: Provo City Library ballroom, 550 N. University Ave., Provo
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