Title: Jessica Rules the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books
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?
When I saw how short this book was (only a little more than 300 pages long), I admit I was happier about the prospect of reading it. Yes, I had enjoyed the first book, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, but I hadn’t been as much of a fan of Fantaskey’s next book, a kind of romantic retelling of Jekyll and Hyde. Then, when I saw that this would be a dual perspective book, not just giving us chapters from the point of view of Jessica and letters from Lucius, but also it also included chapters from the point of view of Jessica’s old friend, Mindy. I didn’t really remember much about Mindy, other than believing she and Jessica had a falling-out in the last book that was eventually wrapped up by the end. Reading her chapters, though, drove me kind of crazy. Like a book I had just read (Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen), her chapters were narrated in a way that reflected how she acted in real life. That meant there were a lot of likes, annoying nicknames, and overall frustrating narration in her chapters. Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy about the prospect of finishing this book.
As the book went on, though, things got better. I was really interested in the Jessica’s story, from her experience as a fledgling ruler who doesn’t know the first thing about being a princess, to the hardship of dealing with her husband’s imprisonment while trying to figure out who really did the crime he’s been accused of. Even Mindy became slightly less annoying as the story went on. I saw the twist of who committed the crime coming a while before Jessica did, but I was enjoying the story too much to care. I liked the way Jessica grew as both a character and a princess throughout the book, and I was constantly reminded of just why I had enjoyed the previous book in the first place.
As of right now, it looks like this is the last book in the Jessica series, but since I had thought that the first book was the last, there’s a chance it could continue. I certainly hope so – I’d love to read more about Jessica’s world of vampire royalty and the various things she’ll have to deal with now that this story is over.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars