3 out of 4 stars
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Slaying a Harpy by L.A. Matthies is the follow-up novel to Surviving Curtis Hall: Lure of Blood and a great read for those seeking romance, action, and intrigue packaged in a paranormal magic school setting.
After being forced to bond with the vampires that run Curtis Hall to survive, Tristen and his friends, Sasha and Bryce, are now faced with learning to deal with new and startling emotions while still having to keep the truth about their school a secret from some of their closest friends. Marcella, the vampire who runs Curtis Hall, has growing feelings for Tristen she’s unsure if she should act on. She also has the pressing problem of her brother, Pietro, who wants an elixir that gives vampires the ability to walk in the sunlight. If he doesn’t receive the elixir, Pietro promises to rain destruction upon Curtis Hall. Meanwhile, from an unexpected corner, a harpy—ancient and terrible mythological creature—worms her way into the psyches of Curtis Hall students, bringing her own threat. Can Tristen, Marcella, and their companions keep Curtis Hall from crumbling around them?
I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot with this book. While I often enjoy books involving schools of magic, I’m not big on vampire stories. I also don’t often read books in a series out of order. All this said, I found myself enjoying this more than I thought. I was a bit confused in the beginning, and there were some things that didn’t make sense. However, I believe that much of my confusion would be fixed by reading the first book. Otherwise, the story flowed well, and my confusion didn’t hinder my reading experience.
Matthies’ take on vampire/human love is refreshing. At one point, Marcella thanks a compatriot for pulling her away from Tristen to do something important, saying time apart will help Tristen learn to appreciate the time together more. This was a nice depart from the more popular vampire love where “I can’t be away from you for more than thirty seconds or my heart will shrivel and I will suffer a fate worse than…whatever undead creatures suffer instead of death.” There is also plenty of vampire/human romance, including some pretty intense emotional scenes involving blood. Your inner paranormal lover will not be disappointed.
There’s also some Greek myth mixed in here. Mythology is something else I love reading, and I ate up the connections to Greece. I wished there’d been more. Also, some of the passages integrating the Greek myth into the story felt a bit long. They were interesting, though, so I didn’t mind them. For those who dislike that kind of thing, be advised it happens every so often.
My favorite part of this book, though, was the characters. Tristen has been friends with Sasha and another Curtis Hall student, Billy, for years, and I felt the strength of their friendship. The tension of all that is shown very well without overtaking the story. Bryce, who’s never been a very physical person, is grappling with wanting to hunt rogue vampires, and his transition is amazing to watch. The character arcs are paced wonderfully throughout the story. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can say the same for the harpy. Though featured in the title, the harpy angle seemed to come into the story late and then felt rushed. The conclusion worked, but I wish the harpy’s psychic manipulation had been woven in more with the mixed emotions earlier in the book. It could have made for some truly epic tension.
All in all, I rate Slaying a Harpy 3 out of 4 stars. The characters are easy to empathize with and care about. There’s a lot going on, which gives the story multiple layers. I couldn’t rate this 2 stars. The late-coming of the harpy and some grammar errors, though, keep me from giving it 4. I recommend this to lovers of vampire fiction and paranormal teen stories. If you’re the type who wants their vampires to be true monsters or take issue with immortal teens (who are kind of adults) getting together with mortal teenagers, you may not enjoy this. Even if you’re like me and aren’t a vampire fan, give this a try. It’s refreshing and different and worth a read.
Slaying a Harpy
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