Desert Isle Keeper
Companions of the Night
Companions of the Night has a little bit of everything: action, adventure, suspense, and romance. It is written at the young adult level, so the gore and sensuality are more subdued, but it is fast-paced and interesting enough to keep any adult turning the pages.
Kerry Nowicki is sixteen and the de facto caretaker of her little brother, Ian, since her mother abandoned their family last year. The book begins with Ian asking Kerry to drive back to the laundromat to find Footy, his stuffed koala, whom he’s left behind accidentally. Kerry doesn’t want to because she only has her learner’s permit, but Ian looks so forlorn that she gives in. It’s just one quick trip, right? What’s the worst that can happen?
When Kerry gets to the laundromat, it is deserted. She grabs Footy and is just about to leave when four men enter, three of them dragging another who is bruised and bloody. They proceed to beat him and then tie him to a metal washtub before they all see her. When she protests their treatment of the young man, they tell her he is a vampire and not to be trusted. They are waiting for morning when they will expose him to sunlight.
The young man, Ethan Bryne, looks so helpless and beaten that Kerry can’t help herself. She takes a huge risk and frees him, and they escape into the night. She drives him to his house, and then he and a friend escort her home. Everything is fine, she thinks; just a brush with raving lunatics and an attractive, though bleeding, older boy. But the next day her father fails to pick her up from work, and when she gets home, her family is gone. The kidnappers have left a message in red paint on her living room wall: VAMPIRE, WE HAVE YOUR FAMILY.
Kerry feels that she has no choice but to ask Ethan for help in finding her family since he seems to know the most about what is happening. But in asking for his help, she learns three important truths: Ethan is far from helpless, he is hardly trustworthy, and he is indeed a vampire.
The tension, romantic and horrific, between Ethan and Kerry is done very well. Ethan, for all he looks twenty years old and oh-so-innocent, is actually older than the hills and perfectly capable of taking care of himself and taking care of business as well. He is a fascinating blend of amorality, capability, and artistry; an enigmatic warrior with the hands of a musician. He also has a dry, biting wit.
And Kerry, though she is young and inexperienced, manages to hold her own with him. She is frightened by him, curious about him, and drawn to him at the same time. In drawing their attraction, Vande Velde interestingly parallels the lure of vampirism with the lure of sex. Kerry wants to be with Ethan, but she doesn’t want to be a vampire. Similarly she is tempted by his physical appeal, attracted to him and distrustful of him at the same time. Watching them interact is both amusing and revealing, and her decisions about him are well considered and emotionally wrenching.
One caveat: Companions of the Night while it is a very interesting and romantic book, is not a romance in the sense that the ending is Happily Ever After. The author ends the story on an ambiguous note. To resolve any romantic conflict between a human and a vampire, one or the other must have the inclination and the ability to change. Vande Velde tells us that both Ethan and Kerry do, and they are both tempted. The reader must choose for herself whether Kerry and Ethan will be together forever. But this is not exactly a minus – after closing the book, I spent many happy hours continuing the adventures of Ethan and Kerry. They had both become so real to me.