Wednesday 8 May 2013

[Book Review] Camdeboo Nights

Anyone who reads this blog will know I'm a big fan of South African wordmistress Nerine Dorman, and it's my pleasure to review one of her most recent offerings, Camdeboo Nights. Set in her native land, Dorman tells the tale of Helen Ashfield, a young woman trying to come to terms with the fact her parents are getting divorced, and she has to start a new school in a small town. If that wasn't bad enough, it seems Helen also has somewhat awesome powers, which bring her to the attention of Trystan, a runaway vampire. Separately, they'd probably have gone under the radar of the badass vampire enforcer, Mantis, but together, Helen becomes a target, bringing Trystan out into the open.

The way I've described it might make it sound a little like another human plus vampire series that I'm sure I don't need to name, but I can't stress enough how unlike said series Camdeboo Nights actually is. For one thing, Camdeboo Nights is told from several points of view, granting us access to Trystan and Helen, as well as Helen's friends Arwen and Etienne. Plus, Helen isn't a grating Mary Sue - she has issues with school bullies, and while she's a little more passive than I'd like, she doesn't spend her whole time mooning after Trystan. Helen has real problems to deal with, on top of her magical ones, and no matter what she does, she always does what she thinks is best. It's admirable.

As always with Dorman's books, one of the joys of reading is the world created in its pages. I've never been to South Africa but I always feel like I 'know' the country a little better once I've read one of Dorman's books, and the vistas of Camdeboo Nights are so far removed from anything I've ever encountered. Beyond the physical landscape, there's a real mythology and sense of 'history' to this story - Trystan's dealings with his vampire brethren have made him an outcast, so he's hardly a shining, flawless hero, and that makes him far more interesting as a result. Then there's Arwen, descended from a family of witches and seeking to tap into power of her own. She's prickly and strong-minded, and I really liked her. Her motives are sometimes shadowy or ambiguous, but again, it makes her more interesting to read.

Camdeboo Nights is a wonderful read, and I seemed to fly through it in no time at all, meaning the only question is...when is the next one coming out?

Four and a half blunt pencils out of five!

You can buy Camdeboo Nights from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


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