Title: VAMPS: Fresh Blood by Nicole Arend
Published: January 3rd, 2023 by Atria Books
Rating: 4 stars
Notes: I was provided an arc of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sink your teeth into this exciting new paranormal series that transports you to an elite vampire academy where a half vampire, half human must hone his bloodthirsty side in order to survive in a cutthroat world. Perfect for fans of The Atlas Six and True Blood.
Nestled in the Swiss Alps, VAMPS is the ultimate academy for the children of the most wealthy and powerful vampire families. Unfortunately for Dillon, he’s an outsider—to be more specific, he’s a dhampir: a vampire that is half human.
If he wants to survive more than a single term, he’s going to need to embrace his fangs. But blood never lies and soon, it becomes clear there is something special and deadly in Dillon’s veins. But as his power grows, so does the target on his back…
I went on Netgalley specifically looking for some new paranormal stories to read. I came across VAMPS and loved the cover and vampire academy setting and instantly hit request. At the time, I had no idea I would enjoy this book so much. Maybe it’s because I read it at the perfect time. Maybe I’m just the target audience, or a combination of the two: the right reader reading it at the right time. But I’m so grateful for VAMPS for reigniting my love for fantasy.
When I read the synopsis (above) I was instantly hooked. The main conflict proved to be very interesting, and it was great to see the MC adapt to new situations and see different challenges thrown at him. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to mention that there’s a tournament that takes up a big chunk of the book, and it was very reminiscent of the fourth book in that one wizard series (I rather not name names, but for former fans of the series, if you loved the fourth book like I did, I think you’ll love this book too!)
There was one subplot that I was interested in and I felt like the “big reveal” was a bit underwhelming. That was probably the main reason I gave this book a 4/5 instead of a solid 5 stars. I don’t want to get too deep into it for fear of spoilers, but I felt like the reveal could’ve been handled differently and the subsequent scenes were too rushed and awkward.
The whole story was a bit fast paced (in a good way, imo) and there was a ton of action and movement that kept me interested all the way through. I fell deep into this story and I never wanted to leave VAMPS. I typically don’t like series, but I would love to delve deeper into VAMPS and the politics/power struggle we got a look at in this book.
This is the perfect winter read, as the winter setting is so vivid and present within the story. Arend includes such beautiful descriptions of the setting. I’ve been reading fantasy books via audiobook because I have a hard time visualizing things when I read them, but I fell into VAMPS and was transfixed by the winter snow, cold castle, velvet coffins, etc. etc.
I love a story set at an academy and this delivered. Reading it instead of studying for my finals might not be my brightest idea, but the academia vibe is definitely more attractive when presented in a castle with attractive vampires.
I love a good paranormal novel, and Dillion was a flawed MC who was a bit dense sometimes like all the MCs in these books, but ultimately he was a lovable one. This was an interesting twist on the usual paranormal romance, since we usually see a human enter a paranormal space, but instead Dillion being a dhampir allows us to learn with him as he navigates this new world while walking the line between both the human world and this secret vampire world.
I didn’t love the romance thing going on here. I found Dillion to be a little too gullible and naive here. It was really unsatisfactory how everything played out, but I understand why certain characters were placed in certain situations. I hope that if there are sequels, my ship gets to sail.
This is the book that’s reignited my love for fantasy. It’s a great winter read with a snowy, ancient castle setting to surround your senses and an action packed vampire tournament to the death (or so it may seem at times) to keep you engaged. I wanted so badly to enjoy this novel, but I ended up loving it instead. If a vampire academy novel with high stakes sounds like your kind of thing, I highly recommend adding it to your TBR for 2023! It’ll be out that first Tuesday of the year and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.
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