by Sarah Klein
I’m not sure exactly where I was in my writing career at age 13, but it likely consisted of notes passed in class that read, "Do you like me? Check yes or no." It was certainly nothing nearly as polished and promising as the vampire fiction of teen author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.
An otherwise average 15-year-old from Concord, Massachusetts, Atwater-Rhodes has already published two young adult fiction novels, her first – In the Forests of the Night – penned at 13. The book revolves around a fiercely strong-willed, 300-year-old female vampire, Risika, who underwent "the Change" as a teen in 1702. Risika is a powerful vampiric protofeminist, who’s bound to instantly appeal to young female audiences and is much more engrossing and inspiring than your average wishy-washy teen romance heroine.
Atwater-Rhodes’ take on "I was a teenage vampire" is simply and strongly written and highly reminiscent of the style of Anne Rice. Although I have never had a particular fondness for the genre, Atwater-Rhodes is well-versed in the literary art of grabbing the reader’s attention and holding it, and at under 200 pages, In the Forests of the Night is a brisk and enjoyable read.
Atwater-Rhodes is clearly influenced by the Goth movement, both past and present. Her characters mostly wear all black and hang out in vampire bars, but she creates new powers for her vampires and blends them in with modern society. Many of her metaphors and symbols are highly clichéd – repeated use of red and black, blood and roses – but she is, after all, only 15, and she neatly accomplishes the atmosphere she sets out to create.
There’s no doubt she holds a great deal of promise for the future when she begins writing adult fiction and expanding into new horizons.
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