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lip lit: sarah beth durst, drink slay love

There’s no denying vampire fever – the beautiful ageless undead have their fangs sunk into pop-culture, with no sign of sunlight threatening their reign. We all know the fundaments of ole’ basic vampire lore: they are ageless, sunlight turns them to dust, they are repelled by garlic and holy water, don’t have a reflection, you kill them by a stake to the heart, and they feed on human blood to survive. Lately, writers have been having fun with these myths, and more interestingly, have been exploring the idea of a vampire’s soul.

Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst is one of the latest young adult vampire novels to be released. Sixteen-year-old Pearl is a vampire born to two vampire parents – a rarity in Pearl’s world, but possible (kind of like the human equivalent of IVF-free triplets). Pearl has a hot boyfriend, a favourite ‘snack’, and her family are gearing up for the honour of hosting the Vampire King of New England’s feast. Things are pretty perfect in Pearl’s world – until she’s staked by a unicorn. While her family dismiss the unicorn’s existence, Pearl begins to notice some pretty major changes in herself, the most predominant being that she can walk in the sun without bursting into flames. Her family exploit this by sending her to the local high school, in order for her to find fresh blood for the feast.

Like her predecessors, Durst uses vampires to examine ideas around morality, mortality and humanity. As Pearl becomes more involved in the human world she begins to notice the repercussions of what she and her family have done in the past, and starts to question where her loyalties lie. She also has to figure out how to survive in High School, which might just be scarier than meeting the Vampire King. While Drink Slay Love doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking in vampire fiction, it’s fast-paced and engaging. Durst has created a compelling character in Pearl – she’s brazen and courageous, and is a fantastic antidote to plenty of other female characters in similar novels.

Drink Slay Love is a great young adult read, mostly because the lead female protagonist is smart, independent and fearless. Durst’s writing is snappy and her dialogue witty, and while there is romance, this isn’t a novel to buy for your niece/little sister/friend who draws love hearts over Edward Cullen’s face. Or, on second thought, maybe you should. They could probably use a bit of sass.

Allen & Unwin



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