In a world where a single vampire bite is enough to infect an ordinary human, anyone suspected of the infection is swiftly sent to live with the vampires in Coldtowns.
Tana lives close to Springfield, Massachusetts, the first and biggest Coldtown in the US. It's a place where the Eternal Ball and live feeds from Lucien Moreau's mansion have made internet superstars of the undead. And though there's plenty of people who want to live in Coldtown - and are willing to barter blood for immortality - Tana isn't one of them.
But when events for Tana inside Coldtown's walls, all she wants is to get out again. Except no one leaves Coldtown - alive or undead.
At last Holly Black has written a vampire book! This excellent author of dark YA fiction is highly qualified to take on the undead, and this is where she proves it. Tana is a misfit heroine - half rebel, half responsible - but there's nothing obviously special about her, except she's brave and loyal, and refuses to give up, even on those who deserve it.
The story starts in a dark, gory way - and it doesn't much change. If you're squeamish, or prefer your vampires to be charming and toothless, this is not for you. Gothic, dark and intense, Tana's troubles transfixed me from the first chapter, and didn't let go until long after I'd finished.
Then there's Gavriel - beautiful, brooding and insane - or the charming, too easily led Aidan, with the twins Midnight and Winter representing those signing up for a lot more than they understand. As always, Black's characters are intriguing and unusual, their reactions painfully human at times and always interesting.
Gory and gruesome at times, with moments of whimsy and even a touch of romance, these are vampires without any gloss, surrounding a strong, capable heroine who just wants to go home. Holly Black is a master at what she does. I wonder if there will be any more from Coldtown... I hope so.