Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst

By this point, I’ve read so many vampire novels that they’re in danger of all blending together.  However, I don’t think I’ll be confusing Sarah Beth Durst’s Drink Slay Love with anything else.  This teen-oriented tale is much more original that I anticipated, presenting vampires with a chilling lack of empathy and exuding a Buffy-esque menace.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire . . . fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil . . . until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast—as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?”

Let me get this out of the way from the start: I’m really not sure that I’m on board with the whole unicorn idea.  It kind of worked, but on the other hand, it kind of didn’t fit with the overarching theme of vampires.  Maybe that’s just because the two are rarely paired, either in fiction or in mythology.  Thankfully, the unicorn isn’t around much and only makes a few brief appearances.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book.  I used to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and this book definitely had overtones of Joss Whedon’s world.  And it was interesting to be drawing that parallel with a book where the main character is not a vampire slayer, but a daywalking vampire.  The novel spends much more time following Pearl in her daytime hours than it does in her interactions with her Family, and that just adds to the feeling.  And the climactic scene is classic Sunnydale fodder.

I was impressed with the way Durst conveyed the sense of the vampires’ “otherness”.  They are cold, calculating, and almost devoid of emotion.  They have no empathy for humans at all.  Rather than this being something that the author states and then leaves to suspension of disbelief, she uses Pearl’s inner thoughts to not only present that idea, but to explore it as well.  These vampires are not just humans with fangs; instead, they are something completely alien to human experience.

Durst does this so well that it’s a shock to watch Pearl as she changes and learns to be more human.  It comes on gradually but inevitably.  By the end of the tale, it’s clear that Pearl still thinks a lot like a vampire, but she’s learned a lot about friendship and human compassion as well.  I hope there’s a sequel to this novel in the works, because I’m curious to see where the author will take Pearl during the next part of her journey.

A standout offering in the sea of vampire fiction, Drink Slay Love combines strong characters and fast action to form a memorable novel.  Whether or not you’re a teenager, pick this one up and see how truly otherworldly a vampire can be.

Also by this author: Out of the Wild

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 14, 2011.

Series: n/a
ISBN: 9781442423732
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Page Count: 400
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-galley on GalleyGrab
Author Website
Read an excerpt

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