Title: What Kills Me
Author: Wynne Channing
Genre: YA-Mature, Paranormal
Publisher: Jet & Jack Press
Source: Review copy from author
“An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race.
So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.
How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?”
Wynne Channing’s debut novel What Kills Me with its new take on vampires was a very nice surprise.
Axelia (Zee) is a seventeen-year-old Canadian girl who is living in Italy for couple of months; she is staying with an Italian family. She is enjoying the summer and what Rome has to offer while she is studying Italian. One day on her way back home she gets lost and a handsome stranger (Paolo) helps her find her way back to the house. He invites her out the next night; considering herself the luckiest girl Zee accepts. What she didn’t know was that for being late her hosting family imposes a new 9 pm curfew for her and her roommate.
Next night when Paolo comes for her Zee decides to sneak out and goes out with him. Paolo is the perfect gentleman and Zee is having the time of her life, after some gelato and a romantic walk through Rome’s streets Paolo takes her to an abandoned church he loves to visit. When they are in the church Zee realizes something is not right and when Paolo confesses his only intention was to bring her to the church to kill her Zee does what any person in her position would do, she runs and tries to escape him. She takes an abandoned tunnel with Paolo chasing her close behind. A man in a robe comes between them, he is trying to stop them but Zee loses her balance and falls down a deep well she hadn’t seen. After a while Zee realizes she is in the bottom of the well and the well is filled with Blood. She can’t believe she is alive and with nothing broken. Zee easily climbs up, the robed man is waiting for her. He explains to her that Paolo was a vampire, he is also a vampire and that church is a sacred place for them, and to her disbelief he tells her she died when she fell through the well but thanks to the blood at the end of the well she was reborn a vampire.
Soon after she is trying to come to terms with what just happened when vampire soldiers come for her, the Empress has learned of her creation and has ordered her execution. A prophecy told of her creation. “A girl with no sire who will be the end of the vampire race”.
Zee using powers she didn’t know she had is able to escape and finds refuge with a bladesmith (Noel) and his sons (Lukas and Jerome) who are also vampires. Noel gives his word to protect her and make his sons pledged to protect her too. After some unexpected events Zee is forced to escape with Lucas. Lucas resents her for coming into their lives and messing them up, but his word to his father is something he can’t break. He will help her survive even though it might cost him his life.
Zee needs to prove to the vampire Empress that she is not The Destroyer the prophecy warns about, but that is easier said than done. Despise being a vampire she is still only a girl.
As I said before What Kills Me was a very nice surprise. It was a different take on vampires. In What Kills Me the vampires are rule by a monarchy, lead by an Empress. They live in secret but have an organized society with rules and regulations that permit them to live in secrecy with as little as conflict as possible.
Zee is a very realistic and likeable character. She is smart, witty and a survivor. Her reactions were honest and true to her character. Seeing her come to terms to her new life felt real and was easy to identify with her and with her feelings.
Lucas is the perfect tortured hero. He cares even though he doesn’t want to care. He shows a strong façade that hides his soft side. He is a man of worth and values and will do anything to live according to his beliefs.
Lucas and Zee relationship is not one of insta-love. It takes time for them to get to know each other and the more experiences they share they more they care for each other, even thought they don’t want to accept it they are falling in love and there is nothing they can do to avoid it.
The secondary characters have an array of different personalities, some you will love, some you will hate and some others will leave you open mouthed.
The conflict and fight scenes where very well done; it was almost as seeing them live. The writing was fluid and engaging and it was almost impossible to put down the book.
The end was one of those “I didn’t see that one coming” twists and it was perfectly done. Despite being a nice closing to the story the end is one that will leave you wanting for more… I’m very glad Mrs. Channing is planning to write more books about Zee and this new and unique world she created.
I recommend What Kills Me to all YA-Mature Paranormal lovers and to whoever wants to read a well-written book with strong characters and a fluid plot.
I’m looking forward to reading more books by Wynne Channing.
My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
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