Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hardcover: 309 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Release date: January 10, 2012
Series: Jessica #2
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Lili
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?
After seeing Steph's review for the prequel of this book several weeks ago, I remembered how much I love Fantaskey's writing. I bought Jessica #1 the day it came out and to this day it is one of the most lovingly used books on my bookshelf. So I finally picked up book number two with Steph's inadvertent prompting, and I'm really happy I did!
Fantaskey moves us to Romania where there truly is no concept of safety. Jessica is doing her best to prove to Lucius that she can be a Princess, but she's having trouble abandoning her American and vegan routes for a lifestyle of brutality and blood-lust when it comes to being vampire loyalty. She's barely eating and has begun to hallucinate and have frightful dreams from the stress. And then the unthinkable happens. Claudiu is murdered and everyone points their fingers at Lucius. With her husband's trial date inching closer and closer, Jessica is forced to solve the murder mystery before she may have to carry out her first vampire destruction...that of her husband.
I did enjoy the mystery in this one. We were able to slowly watch Jessica bloom into a Princess with confidence instead of a scared girl that doesn't feel like she belongs. While I had the murderer pegged about half way through the book, Fantaskey made sure the tale was entertaining and full of twists and turns that I didn't fully expect. Jessica enlists the help of Lucius's most trusted ally, an ex-master assassin that turned to Buddhism and surfing to qualm his extreme bloodlust, and takes us on a really interesting journey of discovery.
The characterization in this novel is what made it for me, though. It's told between four alternate point of view's: Jessica, Lucius, Mindy, and Raniero, affectionately referred to as Ronnie by Mindy. At first, I thought that this would be really confusing, but Fantaskey handled her unique writing style beautifully and used the alternating views to her advantage by slipping us every possible detail and hunch that she could. Lucius's speech, as always, provided a lot of comic relief, but Raniero's speech was ten times funnier despite his eventual seriousness. Mindy also played a large part in comic relief. Fantaskey wrote her specific chapters in a special voice that not only made you laugh, but had you feeling the intense protection that Mindy felt for her best friend despite the fact that she suddenly became a vampire princess. It was also really nice to witness exactly how Jessica transformed from the shy, questionable Princess to a vampire with so much confidence she practically already looked like a Queen.
All in all, this was a really great installment in Jessica's story. The ending was satisfying, though it did leave me with a few questions. It makes me curious about whether there will be a Jessica #3 on the horizon. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a light, funny vampire tale that does stand out from many of the rest. However, you must read Jessica #1 and I recommend reading the wedding novella before reading this one. The novella truly helps to bridge the gaps between the two stories better. Jessica's story is truly one of pure entertainment.