Book Review: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

First off, why are all the YA fantasy books coming out in hardback? I'm jealous. Do you think I could get a hardback? Not a chance. But Cynthia Leitich Smith can, her Tantalize came out a while back and I've been green since. Or maybe I'm just being dramatic.

Tantalize is a spicy plate of caution for your teenager, or anyone else considering a relationship with an evil bloodsucker or dangerous furby. Quince, a regal fruit and our protagonist's name, helps manage her family's Italian restaurant in Austin, along with her capricious Uncle D and their chef Vaggio. When a big chain joint all but shuts them down, they come up with a plan to cater to people's lust for vampire lore. Why not a vampire themed restaurant? After all, her boyfriend Kieren is a latent werewolf. Werepeople have been exposed and vampires haven't been seen for quite awhile. That's the set up. And all is fun and games, until Vaggio is killed and Kieren becomes the prime suspect.

That's all I'm gonna say plotwise (no surpise, I hate to give anything away).

I will say: Smith has fun with her shapeshifters, calling on the Texas armadillo for a particularly unique variety of werebeast. The vampires, which eventually do show up, are fairly standard, but in Quince, the author has created a strong female character capable of kicking supernatural butt with a pair of snazzy red cowboy boots.

Verdict: Tantalizingly cute.

Next book: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay