Junior high really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: his mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: he's being hunted by a vampire killer.
Brewer's first children's book, first of the planned Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, is like a Laurell K. Hamilton toned way down for the elementary school set. Vlad is miserable. His mother and vampire father died years ago in a suspicious fire, and he lives in a small town with his maternal aunt, a nurse who regularly raids the blood bank for him ("Could you get me O positive this time? That's my favorite," he nonchalantly asks her as he spoons "a big, sweet glob of half-frozen blood" into his mouth). His best friend, Henry, is the only other person who knows why Vlad is so meticulous about applying sunblock and why he brings lunch to school. But when Vlad's English teacher goes missing (readers know he's been murdered), the substitute teacher, Mr. Otis, seems uncannily wise to Vlad, leaving Vlad to worry that he may be exposed. The mystery and suspense angles never get scarier than, say, a Goosebumps installment, and the tone stays mostly light, with plenty of descriptions of Vlad's diet that are to gag for. Brewer catches the wretchedness of adolescence: the hero's crush on a classmate is dead-on in its understatement and inaction, and his friendship with Henry encompasses lots of banter and insults. The uninitiated will appreciate the ample stock of vampire lore, while the more knowledgeable will sink their teeth into the puns. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information