- Companions of the Night –
Vivian Vande Velde
Kerry Nowicki, 16, never dreamed that vampires lived in her little town of Brockport, New York, let alone that she would become involved with a handsome one named Ethan. When she makes a late-night trip back to the laundromat to retrieve her little brother’s stuffed bear, she interrupts the murderous plans of a vigilante committee that claims Ethan is one of the undead. Kerry tries to help him, so they assume that she is a vampire, too. When the two young people escape, Kerry’s brother and father are kidnapped in retaliation, and a complicated game of cat-and-mouse follows. During the often harrowing experiences that follow, Kerry proves to be an intelligent, level-headed young woman. She recognizes the danger of her attraction to Ethan, but knows that she must trust him to help find her family. Ethan maintains the cunning and duplicity that readers might expect from a vampire. The plot is lively and intriguing, with an unexpected twist at the end. – Courtesy of School Library Journal via amazon.ca
Companions of the Night is my favourite book of all time. OF ALL TIME. Likely, if I’ve ever made you read it, you already know that. For those of you just coming across it for the first time, know this – though this book was written more than a decade and a half ago, it is in no means irrelevant or dated (though the lack of cell phones is apparent, and at one point there is dial-up internet *shudder*). It also is not your typical vampire novel. The main female character – Kerry – is intelligent, quick-witted, and completely unimpressed or fooled by the vampire who has her hostage. She might be falling for him, but she’s no weak patsy like so many female characters put up against a big bad vamp. She doesn’t just hold her own, she also actively and continuously observes her surroundings and analyses whether she’s making the right decisions. Kerry has a conscience, and she has a goal: to find out what happened to her family before it is too late. I’ve always identified well with her; while reading the novel, I always understand where she’s coming from and why she reacts the way she does, and I feel that in her shoes, I would be doing the same. That is a testament to Vivian Vande Velde’s skills as a wordsmith.
She has also created an enigmatic, slightly-evil, manipulative, but somehow compelling and sympathetic vampire. Ethan Bryne is a smooth talker with a moral code in the darker spectrum of shades of grey – and he is an absolute delight to read! He’s unapologetic about the fact he feeds off human, to the point where he jokes about it or uses it as a scare tactic. He’s smart, canny, and impossibly good looking (in my mind I picture a younger Matthew Bomer). Ethan is one of the most well-rounded vampires I have ever come across, and it is impossible to label him as a bad-guy or a good-guy because he is both and he is neither. He’s the second half of the excellent characters that make this the best vampire book I have ever read.
And I’ve read a lot of them. Some I won’t even own to.
One of the things that makes this unique is, at it’s core, Companions of the Night is a story about discrimination, hatred and persecution. At fifteen, I appreciated the fact that the novel made me think that there is a side to every story. The villain of the piece is not the vampire, and is a deeply flawed and psychologically damaged individual who truly believes in what he is doing. Part of the ‘message’ beneath the surface of this novel is that conviction in your beliefs doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right or moral: Companions of the Night allows you to create your own definitions of morality. At the time, I was impressed to find a book that allowed me to make my own conclusions and didn’t try to push an agenda at me, and I feel that by just vocalizing my thoughts, I’m doing an injustice to that.
If you’re looking for a smart YA novel that is still fun to read, supernatural with the occasional dark theme, but also clever and amusing, then I recommend this book from the bottom of my heart.