Vivian Vande Velde is basically my hero. She is a master at taking traditional fairy-tale-like themes and making them fresh and totally unique. Companions of the Night (1995) does that for the vampire story.
Kerry’s little brother, Ian, had a simple request: drive to the laundromat to retrieve Ian’s stuffed bear. Kerry knew all the reasons she should tell Ian no (she had a big test to study for, it was the middle of the night, she only had a driver’s permit and shouldn’t be in a car without a licensed driver), but then Ian started to cry and Kerry knew she couldn’t say no–not if Ian was going to cry. It was late, there would be no traffic. Getting the bear would be simple.
And it was simple. Until Kerry got to the laundromat and stepped into what looked like a gang shootout. Or a kidnapping. Or a vampire hunt.
Unfortunately, the hunters think that Kerry is a vampire too. So she and the other supposed vampire, Ethan, have to escape. Adventure ensues.
Vande Velde, as is her way, also throws a romantic element into the plot. Happily, she does so without falling into the typical “Dracula seduction” style so common in vampire stories.
Every author has a different take on how vampires function in “real life.” I am quite fond of how Vande Velde explains their immortality. The explanation just makes so much sense, it’s great. In a way Vande Velde takes the mystique out of the whole vampire thing, trying to create realistic explanations for things like immortality and how a vampire can exist inconspicuously in the modern world. Overall Ethan is an exceedingly likable character even if he is, basically, dead.
Technically speaking the narrative is nicely written. This novel is very much like Vande Velde’s other works. In particular, parallels can be drawn between this novel and A Well-Timed Enchantment. Both have a similar plot formula and the narrations style is very modern in both.
Vande Velde also develops the characters of Ethan and Kerry nicely. The book is short, so readers are never bogged down with background information or “back stories” for the characters. Nonetheless, Vande Velde creates very dimensional and, dare I say, very real characters.
Companions of the Night is definitely an action story. The narrative is tightly wound, keeping readers ready for excitement and action.
Possible Pairings: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Plain Kate by Erin Bow, Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Fracture by Megan Miranda, Vicious by V. E. Schwab, Generation Dead by Daniel Waters, Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey