One word: WOW.
Never before have I read a vampire book that left me totally speechless. Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst is, hands down, one of the best (if not THE best) vampire novel I have ever read. And the best part is I wasn't at all expecting it! It was one of the first five books I received from the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster Canada, and - I'm sorry to admit that - one that I was least excited for. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know I was getting it - it came as a total surprise! I picked it up thinking "yet another vampire novel to get through" and before I knew it, I was completely engrossed in the story and absolutely in love with Sarah Beth Durst's unique take on the vampire world! I enjoyed reading Twilight series with its friendly (&sparkly) squirrel-sucking vampires (don't judge me, you know you liked it, too, at one point!), I really loved CV Hunt's dark Curt Cobain look-a-like bloodsucker, I devoured Anne Rice's gorgeous Vampire Chronicles, but this... This was beyond awesome. In Drink, Slay, Love, Durst reached a whole new level of fabulous. I could happily sit down and read it all over again. And who knows, I might just do that!
Pearl is a teenage vampire. She's also stunningly beautiful and undeniably evil. Being a typical, heartless (figuratively speaking) creature of the night, Pearl not only has no reflection and no heartbeat, but also no conscience (or any other human feelings) whatsoever. Just like others of her kind, she's a nightwalker - even minimal exposure to the sun could prove fatal for her. Same goes for playing with fire - apparently vampires are also highly flammable. Despite all that, Pearl is perfectly content with her "life". Sure, she might not be very fond of some of her family members and yes, she could use a little bit more freedom, but she has her drop-dead handsome vampire boyfriend (Jadrien) and she enjoys "snacking" on the young Dairy Hut worker. Smart, strong and irresistibly gorgeous, she makes a perfect predator. What else could she possibly want?
Pearl's "perfect life" gets turned upside down when she crosses paths with... a unicorn! Unfortunately for our blood-sucking friend, this unicorn is not here to happily bounce around and poop rainbows. In fact, mr-sparkly-and-pointy stabs our heroine straight through her heart with his horn. And, believe it or not, that's just the beginning of her problems. Next thing she knows, the sun doesn't hurt her anymore, she can see her own reflection and - wait for it - she starts feeling bad for her prey! And all that happens at the worst time imaginable - just when the vampire King of New England is about to come to town for The Fealty Ceremony. Not to mention that this once-in-a-century event is going to be hosted by her family, and she's the one responsible for providing, uhm, let's call it "refreshments". Before she knows it, she's attending the local high school and making human friends. What will she do when the time comes to serve up her new friends as party snacks? What's a vampire with a freshly awakened conscience to do?
Vampires and unicorns - doesn't it sound freaking amazing? Well, it totally is! Actually, it's even more amazing that you guys can imagine. Not only is the story line fresh, original, deliciously quirky and completely engrossing, but there's literally nothing in this book that I would change. Not a single character that I wouldn't like, not a single boring passage, no loose ends, no what-the-hell-is-going-on moments. Non. Zero. Null. The plot is nicely thought-out and skillfully executed. All the missing puzzles are graciously falling into the right places as we read. The unicorn mystery didn't really surprise me - I actually figured it out quite fast - but the way Sarah Beth Durst unraveled the whole thing was very exciting, rather than get-over-with-it-already-you're-annoying-me kind of thing. The chemistry between all the characters was top-notch. Especially between Pearly and Evan. Would someone try to tell me a couple of weeks ago that there will come a day when I will be getting excited over a vampire-unicorn romance, I would probably give you my best hell-no look and told you to get lost. But then Durst came along with her fan-freaking-tastic novel and next thing I know I'm reading about it with a heart beating ridiculously fast in my chest. It was really good. And she didn't overdo it either, which I really appreciate! There's barely any actual romance at all, I was mostly getting excited for what might happen in the next books (because there are going to be next books, right? RIGHT?!).
Pearly is a wonderful heroine. She's just plain gorgeous. I loved her snarkiness and dark sense of humor. She was going through a lot, her whole life was getting messed-up and yet she wasn't whining or feeling sorry for herself. She was tough. She'd much rather find the one responsible for all her problems and kick his/her ass, than sit around crying and hoping for a change of fate. She's a doer, she fights for herself. I really liked that about her.
Evan is hot, but he's also all kinds of awesome and sweet. And on top of everything else, he's also quite mysterious and charming. Plus he has a not-so-dark secret and adorable hero-complex. I love Evan. Period.
There are, of course, many other fantastic characters in Drink, Slay, Love. Some are more essential to the plot than others, but each and every single one of them brings something unique to the story. There's not a character that I would say was unnecessary or a waste of ink. Take the nerdy duo -Zeke and Matt. They're like ripped straight from the Big Bang Theory! I could read this book again just for their awesomely geeky conversations! Sarah Beth Durst really knows how to make her characters vivid, realistic and three-dimensional. I'm so in love with all of them!
I'd recommend this book to everyone, regardless of your usual reading preferences. I am pretty confident that once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down.