Belle Morte

Wattpad. Apr. 2022. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781989365892.
Gr 10 Up–In a world where vampires are A-List celebrities, everyone is clamoring to be chosen to serve as a donor (a willing blood source). When Renie’s sister June, a recent donor in the Belle Morte house, abruptly stops writing home, Renie applies and is chosen as a donor in hopes of finding out what happened to her. As Renie falls deeper into the complexities of the vampire lifestyle, she feels an undeniable pull toward Edmond Dantès, whose status as a vampire makes him off-limits for anything but blood donations. But Renie didn’t bargain for the depth of the secrets she’d encounter, or for the danger that might lurk in uncovering the truth, and Edmond may be the only one who can help her find her sister and save herself. Lush descriptions of the setting and characters (especially their clothing) and detailed worldbuilding create an atmospheric place in readers’ mind. After a somewhat circular and repetitious start, a comfortably predictable resolution to June’s whereabouts leads to a more quickly paced second half of the book. Although Edmond and Renie’s insta-love would have been served well by a more slowly developed relationship, he hits all the high points of a brooding, handsome, darkly magnetic vampire love interest. Questions of consent and power differential between an actual teenager and a centuries-old vampire “teenager” notwithstanding, the intimacy between Renie and Edmond is heated and emotional. An open bar being available to the donors and many adult side characters make this a better choice for older readers.
VERDICT Recommended for libraries with voracious vampire aficionados and those where Twilight and Vampire Academy are still popular.

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