fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book review Chloe Neill Chicagoland Vampires 1. Some Girls BiteSome Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Merit is a Chicago grad student with a wealthy family she tries her hardest to ignore. One night she’s attacked by a vampire and left for dead, then saved when another vampire, Ethan Sullivan, finds her and brings her over. Now Merit is a vampire whether she likes it or not — and embroiled in vampire politics, again whether she likes it or not. Chloe Neill’s vampires are divided into Houses, which are sort of a cross between corporations, mob families, and frats. Ethan is the head of Cadogan House, and now Merit belongs to it as well.

Merit’s attack is part of a larger pattern of murders, giving Some Girls Bite a mystery plotline, but that aspect of the story is not very prominent. The major focus here is Merit’s adjustment to life as a vampire. Her journey throughout the book is compelling; she starts out feeling sorry for herself and then decides to make the best of her new existence while retaining her autonomy as much as she can. Running alongside this is the adjustment of Merit’s best friend and roommate, Mallory, to the discovery that she is a witch. The friendship between Merit and Mallory is terrific, really fun to read. Neill’s portrayal of female friendship is one of the greatest strengths of her young adult Dark Elite series, and that strength is evident here as well. There should be more urban fantasy heroines with interesting female friends!

Chicagoland Vampires (Book Series) by Chloe NeillWhile I enjoyed Merit’s character arc, other aspects of her characterization are a little annoying. She’s one of those too-good-to-be-true characters who arrives on the scene and suddenly has more power than almost anyone else and the story’s alpha male instantly obsessed with her. And as for that alpha male, Ethan, he’s hard to like despite his good looks. He’s overbearing in the Jericho Barrons vein, but less mysterious and with his own personal brand of sleaze added. (Seriously, who asks someone to become his new mistress while his current mistress — the one he’ll dump if Merit says yes — is in earshot?) I’m much more fond of Morgan, Merit’s other possible love interest. In a world of angsty, brooding vampires, it’s nice to see one who eats Dagwood sandwiches and razzes Merit about her favorite football team. I’ve read enough urban fantasy, though, to be wary of getting too attached to Morgan. The beta male seldom wins, and often turns out to be a jerk in the bargain. So, since I suspect this is heading in the direction of an Ethan/Merit pairing, I hope Neill does more to make Ethan sympathetic as the series continues.

But though I’m not sold on the male lead yet, and though Some Girls Bite doesn’t reinvent vampires or urban fantasy, this is a fun book as a whole. Despite the violence, the overall feel is that of a light read, with chick-lit overtones and cute dialogue. If you’re looking for a beach read in the urban fantasy genre, Chicagoland Vampires may be just the thing.

Published in 2009. First in a brand new series about a Chicago graduate student’s introduction into a society of vampires.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it was Merit’s. She was doing fine until a rogue vampire attacked her. But he only got a sip before he was scared away by another bloodsucker and this one decided the best way to save her life was to make her the walking undead.

Turns out her savior was the master vampire of Cadogan House. Now she?s traded sweating over her thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan Lord o the Manor Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed, four-hundred- year-old vampire, he has centuries? worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects her gratitude? and servitude. But an inconvenient sunlight allergy and Ethan?s attitude are the least of her concerns. Someone’s still out to get her. Her initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war and there will be blood.


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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