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August 2010

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//Book Review

Darkly delicious, TANTALIZE is Cynthia Leitich Smith's first foray into the ever-expanding world of YA horror. Offering a winning blend of werewolves, vampires, romance, betrayal, and Italian food, where can it go wrong?

The story is told from the point of view of high-school senior Quincie Morris, whose parents died several years ago and left her with a restaurant, Fat Lorenzo's. Unfortunately, Fat Lorenzo's is not doing so well, so her uncle devises a plan to revamp the restaurant into Sanguini's:A Very Rare Restaurant, complete with vampire chef-of-night.

The plot is crafted very carefully and develops slowly. The control exerted over this book by Smith is extraordinary and shows her mastery of the craft. However, there are times when the plot seems disjointed and broken. It works out in the end, though, as Smith weaves a "tantalizing" build to the final breath-catching climax. Interestingly, there is no falling action, but it works fine in this scenario.

The characters are devilishly original and they all have motivations hidden from view. Most, if not all, of the characters have a twist associated with them that makes them more integral to the plot. Even characters with little cameos early in the novel come back to play an important part in the story later on. This is smoke and mirrors, book style.

Tantalize is written at a higher level than most YA books these days, and as such is a moderately challenging read. However, it adds to the appeal of the book, making it accessible for adult readers and more desirable for older YA who feel the need for "juicier" reads.

Summed up, TANTALIZE is sinfully delectable and a great read for fans of TWILIGHT, PEEPS, and other such horror-thrillers.