Monday, January 9, 2012

Jessica Rules the Dark Side

Jessica Rules the Dark Side
Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Children's
Released: January 10, 2012
Genre: Paranormal
Pages: 320
Source: ALA
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?
I read Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side back before there was news of a sequel. I loved Jessica and Lucius so much that hearing there would be a second book pretty much made my life. Jessica Rules the Dark Side was a satisfying follow-up to one of my favorite paranormal tales. I knew I loved Jessica, but I had forgotten just how much.

Fast forward past the wedding and the first few months of marriage and Jessica finds herself feeling out of place in her own castle. Apparently Romania isn't all it's cracked up to be, and Jessica faces embarrassment after embarrassment as she is unable to fulfill her duties as a ruler. Soon she is on her own when Lucius is accused of murdering one of the elders. Jessica is forced to follow the laws she and Lucius put into place by sentencing him to solitary confinement until his trial. Jess must not only find evidence to clear her husband's name, but also preside over his trial and dole out his punishment should she fail at redeeming him.

While Jessica certainly made some impressive moves in Dating on the Dark Side, she really didn't think past marrying Lucius. So when she finds herself expected to attend trials and make actual decisions, she's immediately overwhelmed. Losing Lucius to what must be a set-up nearly leaves her immobilized. I've already mentioned my love for Jessica, and it did not falter in this sequel. I was always sympathetic and really wanted to give the poor girl a hug at times. But, in true Jessica fashion, she rose to the occasion when it counted and really made me proud.

Several characters introduced to us in Jessica's Guide make repeat appearances. Mindy and Dorin play major roles along with a few new characters. I loved the supporting cast before, and in the follow-up they really have a chance to shine. The story is told from four points of view - Jessica, Lucius, Mindy, and Raneiro. Like last time, we see into Lucius's mind through emails and written letters, this time addressed to his cousin and confidant Raneiro. Included are Raneiro's responses, and we also get Jessica's best friend Mindy's take on things. There may be a lot going on in this novel, but it is all tied together beautifully.

Jessica Rules the Dark Side was a fabulous follow-up to a novel I dearly love. Jessica's Guide is one of my go-to recommendations, and I am so glad to have a second book to shove at readers. Beth Fantaskey did an incredible job with this novel. Some series feel like they are written into several books just for the sake of being a series. Jessica's Guide could have certainly been left as a stand-alone, but Fantaskey sets up a believable plot and captures the reader as she did with her debut. I can only hope that she thinks up a few more obstacles for my favorite vampires as I'll be sure to read them.

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