Klause, Annette Curtis 1953-
Annette Curtis KlauseINTRODUCTION
English-born American author of young adult novels.
The following entry presents an overview of Klause's career through 2000.
Klause has received critical and popular acclaim for her young adult gothic and science fiction novels. Her writing addresses significant ethical issues using characters, both human and non-human, who provide provocative insights into human behavior. Klause utilizes the science fiction and horror genres as a means to transcend the restrictions of the everyday world, a method which allows her to expand the possibilities for exploration of and commentary on the human psyche. Noted for their insights into the minds of developing adolescents, Klause's novels, including The Silver Kiss (1990) and Blood and Chocolate (1997), employ fantastical creatures like vampires, aliens, and werewolves as metaphors for complex emotional conflicts that are particularly familiar to teenaged audiences, such as isolation, emerging sexuality, and fear of mortality.
Klause was born in Bristol, England, on June 20, 1953. In 1960 Klause's family moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne where her father, a radiologist and professed science fiction-fantasy fan, took his two daughters to the library every Saturday. These trips nurtured Klause's love of literature—C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia was a favorite—and inspired her to become a librarian. At the age of fourteen, Klause discovered her first book about vampires, The Shiny Narrow Grin by Jane Gaskell, and began writing a series of vampire poems about a human girl with two vampire brothers. This concept later formed the basis for The Silver Kiss. When she was fifteen, Klause's father was invited to Washington, D.C., for a one-year assignment. The position turned into a permanent job, and the Curtis family settled in a Maryland suburb. Klause graduated from the University of Maryland, earning a B.A. in English Literature in 1976 and a M.L.S. in 1978 from the College of Library and Information Services. The next year, she married Mark Jeffrey Klause, and the couple moved to Hyattsville, Maryland. After graduating, Klause began submitting poetry and short stories for publication. Several of her poems were later published in such journals as Takoma Park Writers, Cat's Magazine, Visions, and Aurora. In the mid-1980s, Klause enrolled in a writing workshop led by Larry Callen, who encouraged her to turn her short stories into a novel. Klause recalled her early vampire poems and used the idea for her first book, The Silver Kiss. In 1981 Klause fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a librarian when she began working for the Montgomery County, Maryland, Department of Public Libraries, a job she continues to hold, serving in various positions, such as children's librarian and head of children's services.
The Silver Kiss is the story of Zoë, a shy seventeen-year-old girl who spends most of her time alone. She is an only child, her mother is dying of cancer, and her best friend is moving to a different town. A series of murders have also recently rocked Zoë's town: women found with their throats slashed and drained of blood. However, the teen still ventures to her favorite park at night to think and dream. There she first catches a glimpse of an eerily handsome, silver-haired boy who changes her life. Simon, as Zoë comes to learn, is a three-hundred-year-old vampire who is on the trail of his own brother—the person responsible for the recent murders and also the one who killed Simon's mother three centuries ago. Simon has tracked his brother through the ages, seeking vengeance. Drawn to Zoë, he feels a glimmer of life because of his attraction and helps Zoë understand her own feelings about her mother's imminent death. In the process Zoë learns to understand her own loneliness and fears. In return, Zoë helps Simon find his brother, and ultimately, to end his own tormented existence. In Klause's second book, the science fiction tale Alien Secrets (1993), the heroine is thirteen-year-old Puck, a girl with no interest in romantic relations or the macabre. Instead, she is more intrigued by her own predicament of having to travel on a cargo spaceship to join her parents on the planet Shoon after being expelled from boarding school. Puck is actually named Robin Goodfellow after the mischievous sprite in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The captain of the spaceship asks Puck to befriend a sad and lonely alien, nicknamed Hush, who is also traveling back to Shoon, his native land. As Hush comes to trust Puck, he shares his story. He too is "in disgrace" because he was to return a prized symbol of his people's freedom to Shoon. But the symbol, in the form of a statue, has been stolen from Hush and is hidden somewhere on the spaceship. Puck turns into a super-sleuth, Nancy Drew-type heroine, and together, she and Hush manage to arrive at Shoon as heroes. Klause returns to the paranormal in Blood and Chocolate as readers are introduced to a sixteen-year-old female werewolf named Vivian. After her father dies in a fire, Vivian's pack of werewolves resettles in a Maryland suburb, where Vivian attends a new high school. Vivian submits a piece of artwork to the school's literary magazine, which appears next to a poem—ostensibly about werewolves—written by a sensitive poet named Aiden. Vivian becomes attracted to Aiden and the two begin to date, much to the chagrin of Vivian's mother and their werewolf brethren. As Vivian wrestles with the decision of whether or not to tell Aiden what she is, a murder threatens her pack. Caught between two worlds, Vivian is forced to deal with her divided sense of loyalty and her feelings of isolation from both humans and werewolves.
Though her literary output is relatively small, Klause has been highly praised for her oeuvre, particularly for the level of maturity and insight she brings to her young adult novels. However, in some communities, there have been attempts to ban Klause's novels in school libraries due to the author's graphic depictions of violence and emerging sexuality in teenagers. Critics have noted that, through her blending of evocative subject matter with elements of such popular genres as horror and science fiction, Klause is especially effective at enticing reluctant young adults to become regular readers. Reviewers have applauded Klause's employment of such genre conventions to construct narratives aimed at adolescent readers that feature frank discussions of such seemingly taboo, though significant, social issues as sexual awareness, death, isolation, and self-identity. In her review of The Silver Kiss, Cathi MacRae has commented that the novel "marries every surefire ingredient of YA appeal with literary vision and graceful style." The critical opinion of Blood and Chocolate has been more divided than the author's previous works, due to some disagreements between commentators regarding the novel's violence and potentially unlikable protagonist. On one hand, the Publishers Weekly review of Blood and Chocolate has noted that "some readers may be alienated by Vivian's self-absorption," while on the other, Beverly Youree argues that "[t]eenage girls will understand Vivian's desire for popularity, her rebellion against her mother and other adults, her feeling of invincibility, and her wish to be part of a group." Despite some critics' objections to the gothic and often erotic elements in Klause's fiction, young adult audiences have continued to embrace her novels, making Klause a staple in junior high and high school libraries.
The Silver Kiss was named a School Library Journal Best Book, a Booklist Best Book, and a Booklist Editor's Choice in 1990. It was also recognized as an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and one of the American Library Association's 100 "Best of the Best" from a list of 1300 in the History of the Annual Best Books for Young Adults in 1994. Alien Secrets was named a School Library Journal Best Book, a Booklist Children's and Editor's Choice/Best Book, and one of the New York Public Library's designated One Hundred Best Children's Books in "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing," all in 1993. Alien Secrets was also deemed an American Library Association Notable Book for Children in 1994. Blood and Chocolate was named a Booklist Editor's Choice Book, a School Library Journal Best Book in 1997, one of the American Library Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults and Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers in 1998, and one of the American Library Association's Top Ten Challenged Books of the Year in 2001.
The Silver Kiss (young adult novel) 1990
Alien Secrets (young adult novel) 1993
Blood and Chocolate (young adult novel) 1997
Annette Curtis Klause and Heather Frederick
(interview date 21 December 1990)
SOURCE: Klause, Annette Curtis, and Heather Frederick. "Annette Curtis Klause." Publishers Weekly 237, no. 51 (21 December 1990): 18.
[In the following interview, Klause discusses the process of writing and publishing her first young adult novel The Silver Kiss.]
Move over, Anne Rice.
In one of this year's most original novels for young adults, Annette Curtis Klause serves up a deliciously creepy brew worthy of the grande dame of horror fiction herself. The Silver Kiss features a pair of vampire brothers—one good, one evil—whose lives become intertwined with that of a girl struggling with her mother's terminal illness. It's a well-crafted page-turner set within the framework of a sensitive—and slightly sexy—romance.
Klause, head of children's services at the Olney Community Library in Montgomery County, Md., says she's been a bit overwhelmed by the enthusiastic critical response that has greeted her literary debut. "It [the attention] feels good, even though I'm sort of embarrassed about it."
The idea for the story was formed "back when I was 14," Klause explains. That was the year the British-born librarian read her first vampire book (Jane Gaskell's The Shining Narrow Grin). "I was enthralled," she says, and immediately began fantasizing about the book. The resulting daydreams prompted her to write "a series of absolutely hideous poems interspersed with prose—a kind of vampire saga," Klause recalls with a laugh.
She had been a member of a biweekly writing group when Larry Callen, whom she calls the group's "mentor," encouraged her to try her hand at writing a novel. After giving some thought to what she would have loved reading when she was 14, "I remembered the vampires."
The unusual choice of subject was a natural for Klause, a self-professed fan of horror, science fiction and fantasy. Her novel evolved slowly, over several years' time. Klause says she went back to the original vampire saga she had written in adolescence and "snatched bits and pieces of it," incorporating her earlier work into the developing book.
As a matter of fact, she says, the poem "Spells against Death," which Zoë, the young female protagonist of the novel, writes for her dying mother, "is a revised version of one of the original bad poems. I couldn't resist!"
Armed with her finished manuscript, Klause began the usual submission and rejection process. She had sent things out previously—picture books, mostly—in the six years she has worked with her writing group, and says she had developed "a good thick skin" over rejections. In the end, The Silver Kiss "only took me six tries."
Klause is currently at work on her second novel, an SF adventure aimed at a slightly younger age group. She calls the main character, who is 12, "a rather feisty individual." The book won't have a romance this time—just straight adventure. "Ghosts, a haunted spaceship, aliens and treasure. Again, I thought, 'What would I have liked as a kid?'"
THE SILVER KISS (1990)
Faren Miller (review date July 1990)
SOURCE: Miller, Faren. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Locus 25, no. 1 (July 1990): 56.
In The Silver Kiss, first novelist Annette Curtis Klause combines two literary forms, the vampire tale and the young adult "problem novel," and demonstrates that they have more in common than one might think.
Alternating chapters focus on the two lead characters—Zoë, a teenager whose mother is dying of cancer while her father withdraws into his grief; and Simon, a centuries-old vampire with the body of a young man and a mind which also seems frozen in the rebellious desperation of youth. Death and loss in various forms haunt both protagonists, made worse by their isolation. When they meet, it is a heady mixture of arousal, confusion, urgency, and the relief of finally making contact with another being, even if one of them isn't human.
For all his love of rock 'n' roll, his leather jacket and brooding "teenage" charm, Simon is a very traditional vampire in most respects. Even his quest for vengeance against the creature who killed his mother offers few surprises to anyone who has read Anne Rice. Considered as horror, the book seems tailored for its young audience. (Significantly, Klause is a children's librarian.) But it's the characters, not the plot, that matter here. The Silver Kiss presents the ancient world of the undead through the vivid experience of youth, which can make even the hoariest material new again.
Diane Roback and Richard Donahue (review date 27
SOURCE: Roback, Diane, and Richard Donahue. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Publishers Weekly 237, no. 30 (27 July 1990): 236.
[In The Silver Kiss, ] Zoë is 16 and facing bereavement: her mother is dying of cancer, and her father seems to be excluding her from her mother's hospital bedside. No one dares speak to Zoë about the family tragedy, and she is isolated by grief, anger and fear. Then she meets the alluring, enigmatic Simon ("His eyes were dark, full of wilderness and stars"), who has an uncanny ability to recognized her feelings. After a series of nocturnal meetings, Zoë learns that Simon is a vampire kept alive by his thirst to avenge the death of his own mother three centuries ago. Drawn to him by an empathy charged with both longing and fear, Zoë agrees to participate in a dangerous scheme to trap Simon's mother's supernatural killer. The two emerge from their encounter able to mourn and acknowledge their losses. First-novelist Klause is excessively ambitious in her juggling of genres and themes; as a result, her suspense is uneven, her love story inadequately rooted and her resolution just a bit pat. Nevertheless, the use of the vampire figure to exorcise Zoë's complex feelings and often striking prose attest to an intelligent and original eye.
Audrey Eaglen (review date September 1990)
SOURCE: Eaglen, Audrey. "Old Wine, New Bottles." School Library Journal 36, no. 9 (September 1990): 171.
[The] horror tale, The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause [is], one of the best novels written for YAs in a long time (and written by a children's librarian at that!). On the surface, The Silver Kiss appears to be just another teenage horror story, but it is much more than that.
The main character is sixteen-year-old Zoë, whose terminally ill mother has had to undergo a long series of hospitalizations for cancer. Her father is so caught up in her illness that he has become, in Zoë's words, "a man who had forgotten he had a daughter." Then Zoë's best and only friend moves to Oregon, leaving her devastated with loneliness. One night Zoë goes to think things over in her favorite park, where in the shadow of a gazebo she sees a pale young man of extraordinary beauty. She is frightened; the newspaper has been full of the story of a woman found with her throat slashed and her body drained of blood. After several brief encounters with the boy, whose name is Simon, and in spite of their chance (?) meeting at the scene of another murder, Zoë finds herself becoming strangely attracted to him—even though he frightens her. Over the next few evenings, Zoë begins to realize that her fear is not unfounded; Simon is one of the undead, a vampire stalking his vampire brother to avenge the murder of their mother (which happened three centuries earlier). Did Simon's brother, innocent-looking, eternally six-year-old Christopher, murder the townspeople—or did Simon? Zoë discovers the truth, but her love for Simon—the boy who understands her loneliness and her fear of her mother's impending death—cannot save him. Like the ill-fated Dr. Jekyll, Simon is a monster—but he is a victim too, and for that reason is a believable and understandable figure of suffering.
This YA novel transcends the horror genre; it is also a story of love and compassion and the awful price that often must be paid for redemption. In fact it's good enough to take its place beside the great horror novels of the past such as Dracula and Frankenstein—and good enough to make young adults want to read those classics too.
Molly Kinney (review date September 1990)
SOURCE: Kinney, Molly. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. School Library Journal 36, no. 9 (September 1990): 255.
[The Silver Kiss is a] well-drawn, powerful, and seductive novel. One evening, when 17-year-old Zoë is sitting in the park contemplating her mother's imminent death due to cancer, her father's lack of support, and her best friend's move, she meets Simon. Simon is startlingly handsome and strangely compelling. As their friendship grows over time, Simon reveals to Zoë his true identity: he is a vampire, trying to kill his younger vampire brother. In a forceful conclusion, Simon accomplishes his mission and commits suicide. Zoë, in turn, comes to grips with her problems and finds an inner strength to cope. All the characters are skillfully portrayed and highly believable. Dialogue is superb. Simon and Zoë, each with their own problems, come together, and are able to draw strength from one another. Klause blends their struggle into a fine novel, integrating story, history, and a bit of vampire lore. The climax is a roller-coaster ride in reality, the macabre, death, and love. The subject matter and simple language will make The Silver Kiss a haunting choice for reluctant readers.… A book that's bound to be popular with teens, not only for its spellbinding story, but also for its theme of good vs. evil.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 October 1990)
SOURCE: Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Kirkus Reviews 63, no. 19 (1 October 1990): 1395.
[The Silver Kiss is a] mesmerizing first novel that depicts the romantic but perilous love between a lonely girl grieving for her dying mother and a reluctantly immortal vampire who has spent centuries trying to avenge his mother's gruesome death.
While Dad spends all his time in the hospital with Mom, now a pallid shadow of the vibrant woman whose paintings were "charged with bold emotion," Zoë—always a contrast to her mother, "a dark one … a mystery" who "wrote quiet poetry suffused with twilight and questions"—broods at home and goes for night walks. She first meets Simon, who "looked like an angel in a Renaissance painting," in a deserted park by moonlight; in chapters that alternate between her point of view and his (letting the reader in on his grisly hidden life and eventually his past), the two establish a delicate, frightening relationship that builds to startling concluding events.
Klause's sensitively drawn characters fit precisely in their exquisitely balanced roles; with lyrical writing and a rich sensibility, she makes Simon not only horrifying but profoundly sympathetic. A fascinating story.
Samantha Hunt (review date December 1990)
SOURCE: Hunt, Samantha. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Voice of Youth Advocates 13, no. 5 (December 1990): 299.
Zoë and Simon are young people in the grip of great personal tragedies [in The Silver Kiss ]. Zoë is a high school student whose mother is dying of cancer. Her father divides his time between the hospital and working to pay the medical bills. In addition, her best friend is moving across country. Simon is a three-hundred-year-old teenager who has crossed continents and centuries to find the fiend who murdered his mother and made him into one of the Undead. His quest is particularly bitter because this fiend is his brother. Finding themselves strangely attracted, Zoë and Simon become friends and allies against the loneliness and fear they both feel.
Klause's first novel interweaves the best elements of both YA and vampire fiction for a whole larger than the sum of its parts. In Zoë's story, we have the standard elements of teen fiction with an adolescent struggling through the problems encountered in that stage of life as well as the problems exclusive to her character. Simon's story has the traditional elements of vampire fiction, complete with the blood and the horror. But this book is not just about those things. Without ever becoming moralistic or "preachy," Klause raises larger issues such as the nature of good and evil, and the acceptance (or denial) of mortality.
This teen vampire novel is a unique contribution to the genre and to YA fiction.… It's a riveting read, charged with romantic suspense and packed with bloody action.
Cathi MacRae (review date December 1990)
SOURCE: MacRae, Cathi. "Young Adult Perplex." Wilson Library Bulletin 65, no. 4 (December 1990): 124-25.
In the prowl for timely topics and themes in YA literature, your faithful "perplexist" sifts much chaff from wheat. Discovering an utterly fresh voice in a field that fosters copycats of its icon authors Cormier, Hinton, and Peck is cause for celebration. Discovering two such new voices seems miraculous.
The galley of a first novel, The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause, was in huge demand at the American Library Association conference in Chicago last June. Icon authors themselves heralded it. In many speeches, Richard Peck recommends it as something completely different. Its jacket carries the praises of Robert Cormier, for whom it unforgettably "blazes a bloody trail in YA literature." Alongside Cormier, William Sleator calls it a "marvelously grisly thriller … full of compassion." The earner of such accolades was among us all along; Maryland children's librarian Annette Curtis Klause seemed be-mused by the prepublication attention showered upon her in Chicago.
Devouring my precious Silver Kiss galley—the last one Delacorte had—on my trip home from ALA, I saw this bizarre story of a teenaged vampire falling for a girl whose mother is dying of cancer as a YA publishing event. The Silver Kiss marries every sure-fire ingredient of YA appeal with literary vision and graceful style. Gutwrenching horror, spine-tingling suspense, a romance of impossible longing, and realistic challenges all propel a sympathetic teen heroine into new growth and insight.
The Silver Kiss claims a starring role in "The YA Perplex," but what can possibly follow it? I delayed writing my review until Effie's House by another new author, Morse Hamilton, came into my hands, entirely without fanfare. Perhaps it was the attitude of longing in the pose of the girl on the cover, which mirrored The Silver Kiss jacket, that alerted me. Within its first pages, one more thoroughly original voice rang out in another first novel.
Klause and Hamilton introduce us to two remarkable young girls, both bright, both sensitive. Both are loners, both are writers. Both are close to their admired mothers and distressed at the separation that maturity demands. And both find instruments of their own transformation in the realm of the dead.
Coming home to an empty house every evening, with her beloved mother dying of cancer, is only part of the torment Zoë must endure in The Silver Kiss. Unable to connect with her distracted father and restricted by the doctor to all-too-brief hospital visits, Zoë feels cut off, left out. The ugliness of her mother's illness horrifies her, as does the fear of losing her. Zoë cannot even confide in her best friend, Lorraine, who avoids disturbing subjects. When Zoë learns that Lorraine is moving far away, she feels that she is losing everything—perhaps even her thin, hollow-boned self. Could she be wasting away, too, in "sympathy death" with her mother?
Seeking solace in an evening walk to her favorite park, Zoë is moved by a glimpse of a beautiful, silver-haired young man, so ethereal that he blends in with the night. Yet when Simon, drawn to Zoë's sorrow, begins to shadow her, she is alarmed. Newspapers are reporting that murdered women have been found with their throats slashed and blood drained. Can she trust this odd, compelling boy who moves with the night?
Unlike Zoë, the reader knows that Simon is a vampire, struggling to live off unsatisfying animal blood while stalking the true killer—silver-haired, teddy-bear-toting, six-year-old Christopher, his own vampire brother. Simon normally doesn't talk to "food," but he finds Zoë alluring in ways no previous victim has been. She kindles a glimmer of life in him that has been buried for three hundred years beneath the beast he has become. On a Halloween night in which Zoë dispenses treats to dress-up monsters, a real monster lurks; Simon convinces Zoë to let him inside.
Their mesmerizing mutual attraction sways Simon to confess his true nature, and Zoë to accept it. Simon shows her his most prized possession—his 1651 family portrait, in which his parents cradle him as a baby, with older brother Christopher alongside. Simon confides that at age six, Christopher was kidnapped by a man whom his father had befriended. Soon after, his mourning mother was murdered, and Simon grew up missing her, unable to relate to his distant father. Simon had no idea what happened to his brother or mother until, as a drunken young fop, he was lured by a silver-haired little boy to the lair of a vampire, his brother's kidnapper. The little boy, of course, was Christopher, now a vampire himself, forever frozen at six. After making Simon one of them, Christopher confessed that it was he who murdered his own mother. Simon's thirst for revenge against Christopher has kept him from descending into complete depravity himself in his three-hundred-year chase.
It is Simon's utter loneliness that convinces Zoë he speaks the truth. It is his familiarity with death, "the only thing that proved he existed at all," that draws her, for death haunts her, too. In perhaps the most thrillingly sensual scene in YA literature, Zoë accepts Simon's "sharp, sleek kiss, the silver kiss, so swift and true,…her warmth was flowing into him." As he drinks her blood, "silver bubbles started to rise from her breast and burst within her head like champagne," and Zoë realizes that death itself could be that way, full of ecstasy and arousal.
But Simon stops short of death, for he loves Zoë. Theirs is the ultimate romance, all unrequited longing. Simon must not abandon himself to his animal instinct to drain Zoë's blood, nor can they love in the natural human way. Instead they explore together the boundaries of love and death.
In his agelessness, Simon knows Zoë's ephemeral beauty will not last. And, he mourns that his many years of twilight life have not brought learning and growing; that will be his gift to Zoë. After helping Simon to avenge his mother's death, Zoë learns that, like Simon, all her mother needs is the lending of her own strength and love. At last Zoë and her mother confront death to allow Zoë life.
Along with the requisite blood-curdling stake-through-the-heart scenes, Klause takes vampire lore to new levels. She twists old axioms: vampires are created through deliberate blood-sharing, not biting. Their hair turns silver as natural life is bleached out of them. Klause's seductive description of the silver kiss may send us all vampire hunting. Reminiscent of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's enticing vampire Ragoczy Sanct' Germain Franciscus, Simon's underlying decency allows him to save himself and others. That such transformations at the edge of life and death occur within the confines of a "YA problem novel" is startling and irresistible.
Klause's fluid writing style casts its own spells. Zoë's "quiet poetry suffused with twilight and questions" is also Klause's own, and the passionate intensity of her writing will draw YA readers as surely as Simon drew Zoë.
Mary Lee Tiernan (review date March-April 1991)
SOURCE: Tiernan, Mary Lee. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Book Report 9, no. 5 (March-April 1991): 44.
In turmoil over the impending death of her mother and her best friend's move to another state, Zoë chances to meet a mysterious boy named Simon who alternately scares and attracts her [in The Silver Kiss ]. She debates whether or not to trust him, for a murderer is currently roaming the city and attacking women. Simon, who Zoë learns is a good-natured vampire, wrestles with his unhappiness over his own mother's death some 300 years previous. Her death was caused by Simon's wicked brother Christopher, whom Simon pursues at night. Drawn together by mutual feelings of loneliness, Simon and Zoë help each other out. Zoë deals with the changes in her life, and Simon fades into eternal rest. This unusual interweaving of fantasy with issues of death and loss works. A teen helps a teen, and the fantasy and suspense help like "a spoonful of sugar."
Sheila Allen (review date August 1991)
SOURCE: Allen, Sheila. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. School Librarian 39, no. 3 (August 1991): 114.
Not for the nervous or squeamish, yet [The Silver Kiss ] is bound to be one of the most popular books in the library because it has everything to appeal to teenage girls. Zoë is suffering because her mother is in hospital, dying from cancer. Her father seems to be getting ever more remote, while her best friend, Lorraine, does not allow Zoë to talk about her unhappiness. Then Lorraine announces that she is moving to Oregon. At the height of her misery Zoë meets Simon, an unusual boy to whom she is attracted. In fact, Simon is a reluctant vampire who tries to satisfy his desire for blood by taking rats and birds instead of humans. Simon is drawn to Zoë; she encourages his human feelings and he hopes that she may be the one to help him out of his dilemma.
The blossoming relationship between these two, with the fear of death ever present, is the heart of this story. Simon tells Zoë of his childhood some 300 years ago and Zoë is able to accept Simon as he is. Together they plot to kill Simon's evil elder brother who, in the guise of a child, has murdered several young women. Zoë comes to terms with the imminent death of her mother, the departure of her friend, and finally the demise of Simon. A gripping story.
Alleen Pace Nilsen and Ken Donelson (review date
SOURCE: Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Ken Donelson. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. English Journal 80, no. 8 (December 1991): 86.
[The Silver Kiss ] is the perfect book to extend readers' horizons. Those bogged down in reading nothing but romances or nothing but problem novels will have little trouble getting into this story of a lonely girl whose only friend is moving across the country and whose mother is dying of cancer. One of our sample readers called it "funny and sweet," while the more articulate Robert Cormier called it "horrific, tender, poignant, and mesmerizing. And, probably unforgettable." William Sleator praised the author for writing a story "full of compassion—for monster as well as victim," which puts it in a rare category of books.
The girl, Zoë, meets Simon, a "different" young man in a park. "Was he weird? Would he have hurt her? NO. He looked like an angel in a Renaissance painting. Could beauty hurt?" Zoë learns that beauty can hurt, but in this case it doesn't. The boy is really a three-hundred-year-old vampire, and as their friendship develops, they share their problems and help each other come to terms with what each must face. The plot is exciting and keeps readers turning pages, but what sticks in the mind long after the book is laid aside is not so much the plot as the characterizations of Zoë and Simon.
ALIEN SECRETS (1993)
Sally Estes (review date 1-15 June 1993)
SOURCE: Estes, Sally. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Booklist 89, nos. 19-20 (1-15 June 1993): 1833.
In a decided departure from The Silver Kiss (1990), Klause offers middle-grade readers a dynamic 1990s variation on the best of the 1950s-early 1960s juvenile science fiction by Heinlein, Norton, Bova, et al [in Alien Secrets ]. (She gives a nod to Heinlein by naming one of the spaceship cats in her story after Heinlein's protagonist in Podkayne of Mars, which also features a resilient young heroine). Aboard a space freighter en route to the planet where her scientist-parents are based, Robin (Puck) Goodfellow, almost 13 and just expelled from school, finds herself embroiled in a mystery involving an alien named Hush (for short), whom she befriends and helps; a cherished artifact that has been stolen from him; a brutal murder; an abundance of suspects; and the unhappy spirits of some of Hush's people, who died aboard the ship when it was a slaver. The characterizations of Puck and Hush and the portrayal of their growing friendship are irresistible; their attempt to locate the missing artifact while evading likely enemies is rousing; and the descriptions of alien beings and cultures as well as the extrapolation of hyper-space travel fit neatly into the narrative.
Publishers Weekly (review date 5 July 1993)
SOURCE: Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Publishers Weekly 240, no. 27 (5 July 1993): 74.
After being expelled from boarding school [in Alien Secrets ], 13-year-old Puck travels alone to the planet Aurora, where she is to join her parents. During the intergalactic journey, she is caught up in a web of murder, intrigue and smuggling surrounding an alien named Hush and an artifact stolen from him. Both Puck and Hush are exceptionally well drawn and appealing, as are many of the secondary characters. The villains, however, are not quite as convincing nor as well motivated. Klause (The Silver Kiss ) has done an extraordinary job of imagining Hush's culture and his pain at having lost the artifact, but her story suffers from problems of pacing. It takes Klause almost half the novel to establish all the plot points needed to generate real suspense, and after that leisurely setup, the author moves too quickly, blurring details and trampling on what could have been exquisite moments.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 July 1993)
SOURCE: Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Kirkus Reviews 61, no. 14 (15 July 1993): 935.
The author of the extraordinary The Silver Kiss (1990: a girl and a vampire in love) creates sure-fire entertainment for younger readers by melding at least four classic scenarios [in Alien Secrets ]. Seventh-grader Robin Goodfellow ("Puck"), expelled in disgrace, heroically redeems herself en route to her parents … who are elsewhere in the universe, so events take place on a spaceship on which "Hush"—a lovable, elongated gray "Shoowa"—is going home after years of enslavement by Grakks, one of whom almost gains control of the ship … which is haunted by a host of Shoowa ghosts (also the foul work of the Grakks) that Puck and Hush hope to free so they can find peace on their own planet … but, meanwhile, the passengers and crew include (along with the disguised Grakk, who's after a powerful totem that Hush wants to return to his people) smugglers and plainclothes police, in the best whodunit tradition. Klause juggles all this with admirable aplomb while devising a poetically literal manner of speech for Hush, deftly creating memorable characters (whose playfully referential names can be red herrings), writing wonderfully suspenseful scenes (page one is a sure hook), and slipping in some thoughtful, quite beautifully written passages. Klause obviously has more resources than she's using here. What next? Meanwhile, this is great fun.
Donna L. Scanlon (review date August 1993)
SOURCE: Scanlon, Donna L. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Voice of Youth Advocates 16, no. 3 (August 1993): 165-66.
Thirteen-year-old Robin Goodfellow, better known as Puck, is on her way to the planet Shoon where her parents are currently employed [in Alien Secrets. ]. She's sure that they are not going to be pleased to see her; she's just been expelled from school for bad grades. Puck soon forgets her troubles when she befriends Hush, a native of Shoon. Hush has his own problems: someone has stolen his people's national treasure, a statue called the Soo that was in his care. Puck risks her life to help her new friend and not even ghosts, hostile passengers, or the captain herself can stop her.
Alien Secrets demonstrates Klause's versatility and affirms her talent. This is her first book since The Silver Kiss, and it is well worth the wait. Combining science fiction with a tightly plotted mystery, Klause assembles a sympathetic and well rounded cast of characters, from Puck and Hush down to the ship's cats. She maintains the suspense throughout and keeps the reader guessing until the very end.
Klause's mastery of the English language is powerful. She used it to evoke a minor mood in The Silver Kiss ; here, the fast pace of the language heightens the suspense. She is particularly successful with Hush's spoken English. In the hands of a less skilled author it could be annoying, but Klause transforms it into something musical, employing original phrases. For example, when expressing his frustration with the space station bureaucracy, he says "It was like beating the clouds." When Puck asks why he did not tell the police that the Soo has a transmitter inside it, he asks, "Do you think he would have unfolded his ears?"
Booktalking might hook mystery fans into trying this out; science fiction fans won't need much persuading. In Puck's words, Alien Secrets is absolute zero!
Susan L. Rogers (review date September 1993)
SOURCE: Rogers, Susan L. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. School Library Journal 39, no. 9 (September 1993): 233.
Puck, 12, is aboard the converted space freighter Cat's Cradle [in Alien Secrets ], on her way to join her xenobiologist parents on the planet Shoon, having been expelled from the proper English boarding school she despised. Also on board is an interesting assortment of human passengers and crew members, along with at least one alien—Hushwa 'shoonyashanyaha—a native of Shoon. Human/alien relationships are tenuous and fragile at this point, with Earth still recovering from the effects of its 20-year war against the hostile Grakk, the first alien contact experienced by humans. One result of Earth's victory over the Grakk is freedom for the Shoowa (the natives of Shoon), an entire race formerly enslaved by the Grakk. Now that he is free, Hush's mission is to return a sacred object to his people, but it was stolen while he waited for transport, and he has reason to believe that someone has hidden it on the spaceship. Puck eagerly joins her new friend's search for the precious cargo and is rapidly embroiled in several layers of intrigue surrounding its disappearance. She is a plucky and determined heroine, very much a Nancy Drew type, in an outer-space setting. Her introduction to the colors, sounds, and feelings of hyperspace is fascinating and thought-provoking, and her experiences with alien friends and enemies provide lessons applicable to the changing relationships between races and ethnic groups here on Earth as well. This is a fast-moving space mystery that's filled with twists and turns and many surprises.
Maeve Visser Knoth (review date September-October
SOURCE: Knoth, Maeve Visser. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Horn Book Magazine 69, no. 5 (September-October 1993): 599-600.
Klause, the author of The Silver Kiss, has succeeded with her second novel [Alien Secrets ] in creating an intriguing science-fiction mystery which will have readers on the edge of their seats. Puck, the daughter of xenobiologists who are studying life on another planet, has been expelled from her English boarding school and is on her way to join her parents in disgrace. The night before her spaceship departs, Puck witnesses a murder. From this inauspicious start the voyage becomes a thrilling adventure in which Puck and her alien friend, Hush, must find the thieves of a rare, valuable piece of alien art which Hush is to transport home to his people. Both adolescents—for Hush is a young alien—must succeed if they are to go to their respective homes with any dignity. After much adventure and suspense, they do recover the statue and learn as well to value themselves. Klause writes a careful, detailed science-fiction novel. She creates a future world in which aliens and humans travel freely between planets but uses her setting to explore themes of imperialism and oppression of native peoples. The combination of mystery, science fiction, and coming-of-age novel will appeal to readers of many genres who enjoy excellent writing, intriguing, well-developed characters, and a rich, exciting story.
Scott Winnett (review date November 1993)
SOURCE: Winnett, Scott. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Locus 31, no. 5 (November 1993): 31, 56.
Klause's second novel [Alien Secrets ], a spacegoing thriller set on a haunted spaceship, is a far cry from her romantic vampire story The Silver Kiss. Puck, a rambunctious 13-year-old girl, traveling to the planet Aurora to join her parents after being expelled from school, sticks her nose into everything on the ship, and runs into a plot of murder and intrigue surrounding an alien named Hush. His people's most valued sacred object has been stolen, and Puck is determined to help him get it back before the ship reaches its destination. Klause scores heavily with characterization, a talent she affirms with each new work of fiction, but the novel has structure problems. There is so much background necessary, the plot scarcely starts until page 100 and then the subsequent action feels abbreviated. All the elements are there for a terrific young-adult novel, but the too-swift pacing of the actual story kills the suspense. It's still worth a look for the characters alone.
Sherry Hoy (review date January-February 1994)
SOURCE: Hoy, Sherry. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Book Report 12, no. 4 (January-February 1994): 47.
As [Alien Secrets, ] this classic sci fi novel opens, Puck has been expelled from school and is traveling on the spaceship Cat's Cradle to Aurora, where her parents are xenobiologists studying the Shoowa. The Shoowa race was enslaved for years by the Grakk: squat, smelly, frog-faced aliens with a taste for collecting planets and slaves. Puck meets and befriends Hugh Wa Shoon Ya Shan Ya Ha (Hush for short), a Shoowa and former Grakk slave. Hush has been chosen to bring home the Soowa'asha (Soo), a statue that symbolizes Shoowa freedom. The statue is stolen, and Hush discovers that Cat's Cradle is a refitted Grakk slave ship; thousands of Shoowa died on the ship, and their spirits haunt it. Suspects and miscues abound, but Puck and Hush recover the Soo and release the ghosts, and Puck ends up helping her parents' research as well as finding her calling as a hyperspace navigator. This book is in a different vein than Klause's previous novel, Silver Kiss, but is equally well done. The story has overtones of Heinlein's classic Podokayne of Mars (now back in print), with a similar plucky young female who isn't afraid of aliens or bad guys. The cover shows the tall, thin Shoowa with pointed heads and gray wrinkly skin, as well as rocket ships and alien architecture, all of which give the book a retro sci fi impression.
Judith H. Silverman (review date March 1995)
SOURCE: Silverman, Judith H. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. KLIATT 29, no. 2 (March 1995): 18.
Klause's second book [Alien Secrets ] deserves all the awards it got. SLJ Book of the Year, an ALA Notable Book, Booklist Children's Editors' Choice—nothing seems too much. This is simply a wonderful book. Puck, expelled from her boarding school on Earth, is heading for the planet Shoon to join her parents. She is certain they will be disappointed in her, and she's not sure how to earn their respect. On board the spaceship is a young native Shoowa, going home carrying a piece of sculpture called the Soo, a treasured symbol of Shoowan freedom. When the Soo is stolen, the alien, Hush, knows that his people will be disappointed in him, and he's not sure he can ever earn their respect. Puck and Hush believe that the Soo is hidden somewhere on the ship. Klause does more than write an exciting, fast-moving story. She also manages to explore relationships—between men and women, children and adults, aliens and humans—and finds some remarkable similarities. Fun reading, not too confusing, this is a terrific introduction to SF.
Betsie D. Rugg (review date July 1997)
SOURCE: Rugg, Betsie D. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. KLIATT 31, no. 4 (July 1997): 39-40.
Right from the start, [Alien Secrets, ] this interplanetary action-adventure starring Puck, a 7th-grade girl, takes off and never slows down. She has been expelled from her boarding school on Earth for her errant behavior and even worse grades. Even before she embarks upon the spaceship ride home, she has already witnessed a murder. The suspense builds, and the listener is hooked. Puck befriends an alien on the ship named Hush. A statuette that belongs to his people was stolen and hidden on the ship, and Puck is determined to help him find it. This places her in constant danger, as the passengers and crew on the ship cannot all be trusted and some are not what they seem to be. One adventure after another brings Puck and Hush closer to solving the mystery, though there are many setbacks along the way. SF fans will especially enjoy the mechanical intricacies of the spaceship and the use of gadgets, futuristic tools and machinery. Listeners will be able to appreciate the underlying story of a teenager helping someone who is different, because Puck, too, feels different. The change and growth experience for Puck is subtle; the story conveys pure enjoyment and adventure. Moore creates a unique voice for each character, most notably Hush. She speaks in a careful voice that lingers over every word, keeping the listener intrigued.
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE (1997)
Publishers Weekly (review date 26 May 1997)
SOURCE: Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Publishers Weekly 244, no. 21 (26 May 1997): 86.
[In Blood and Chocolate, s]ixteen-year-old Vivian isn't fiction's most likable heroine, and not only because she's a werewolf. She's preoccupied with admiring her own "full breasts, small waist [and] tawny hair." She's viciously competitive with other girls, gloating, "Look at me.… I've got him. You don't. Too bad." Her pack, temporary leaderless and dislocated after the death of her father, is living in some low-rent Maryland suburbs. Expected to mate with one of the rowdy, blood-hungry werewolves her own age, Vivian rejects them as well as 24-year-old Gabriel, who flirts with her aggressively as he prepares to assume leadership of the pack. Instead, she nourishes a crush on a "meat boy" (human) from school, a retro-hippie poet-type who professes a yen for the supernatural. With the darkly sexy prose and suspenseful storytelling that gave such luster to The Silver Kiss, Klause lures readers into the politics of the pack, their forbidden desire for human flesh and the coming of age of their future queen. Though some readers may be alienated by Vivian's self-absorption, and others shocked by her eventual union with Gabriel, most will find this sometimes bloody tale as addictive as chocolate.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 June 1997)
SOURCE: Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Kirkus Reviews 65, no. 11 (1 June 1997): 875.
Klause returns to the steamy sensuality of her first book, The Silver Kiss (1990), for [Blood and Chocolate, ] this tale of a hot-blooded teenage werewolf who falls for a human "meat-boy."
Grieving for her father and unimpressed by the age-mates in her pack, Vivian defies her mother and fellow lycanthropes by setting her sights on suburban poet-schoolmate Aiden Teague. It's an experiment that's doomed from the start. Vivian may look human (when she chooses), but her attitudes, instincts, and expectations are decidedly wolflike; short-tempered, direct in action and emotion, rough in love and play, shapeshifters make dangerous companions, their veneer of rationality as thin as their senses are sharp. Poor Aiden—as a prospective lover he's not so different from prey; to Vivian his smile flashes like heat lightning, and at times he looks so delicious she wants to "bite the buttons off his shirt." When, after a series of sultry but frustrating dates, Vivian reveals herself to him, he responds, not with the pleasure and lust she expects, but stark terror. Extrapolating brilliantly from wolf and werewolf lore, Klause creates a complex plot, fueled by politics, insanity, intrigue, sex, blood lust, and adolescent longings, and driven by a set of vividly scary creatures to a blood-curdling climax. The werewolves' taste for risky pranks and the author's knack for double—and even triple—entendres add sly undercurrents to this fierce, suspenseful chiller.
Stephanie Zvirin (review date 1 June 1997)
SOURCE: Zvirin, Stephanie. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Booklist 93, nos. 19-20 (1 June 1997): 1694.
Gabriel—raw and sharp like blood; Aiden—rich and smooth like chocolate. It's Aiden, sensitive and gentle, whom Vivian thinks she desires [in Blood and Chocolate ], but he is a "meat-boy," a human, and Vivian is a werewolf, a worshiper of the Moon and part of a small sect of werewolves living double lives in a contemporary Maryland suburb. Should Vivian reveal her proud, sleek animal self to the boy she loves? By the author of The Silver Kiss (1995), this violent, sexy novel is a seamless, totally convincing blend of fantasy and reality that can be read as feminist fiction, as smoldering romance, as a rites of passage novel, or as a piercing reflection on human nature. Vivian is a strong main character, tough yet vulnerable, and her every move reflects her duality. Klause's imagery is magnetic, and her language fierce, rich, and beautiful, whether she is describing a frightening, vicious fight to the death among Vivian's werewolf clan or the moment when Vivian realizes that showing her true self has been a tragic mistake. Passion and philosophy dovetail superbly in this powerful, unforgettable novel for mature teens.
Lauren Adams (review date July-August 1997)
SOURCE: Adams, Lauren. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Horn Book Magazine 73, no. 4 (July-August 1997): 459-60.
If Annette Curtis Klause cooled her vampire's Silver Kiss for the puberty set, here [in Blood and Chocolate ] she allows her werewolves all the unbounded heat and urgency of prime adolescence. When half of Vivian's pack (including her father, the pack's leader) is destroyed in a fire following the forbidden killing of a human, the remaining loups-garoux are forced to move to a new town, where Vivian longs for companions her own age. Turning on all of her tough-talking she-wolf charm, she approaches Aiden, a boy at school who has written a poem with startling insight into her kind. As her passion for him grows, she begins to fear he will discover her secret, even as she thrills at the power of her own transformation: "She tensed her thighs and abdomen to will the change on, and clutched the night air like a lover … Her blood churned with heat like desire." Trusting in Aiden's love for her, she finally decides to show him her beautiful wolf self, but, not surprisingly, he is horrified at the sight. Despite her wounded feelings, Vivian must turn to pack business and the Ordeal: a fight to the death to determine their new leader, along with a parallel competition for Queen Bitch. The outcome of these events and Vivian's fear of having possibly exposed the pack to the townspeople cause her first to question, and then embrace, her dual nature. While the novel's opening quotations by Kipling and Hesse might imply a serious literary intent, Vivian's character never does grapple with the questions of humanity that seem to hover nearby. The book better succeeds as a supernatural gothic romance that's sweaty (and bloody) enough for a sultry summer night.
Molly S. Kinney (review date August 1997)
SOURCE: Kinney, Molly S. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. School Library Journal 42, no. 8 (August 1997): 157.
[Blood and Chocolate is a] vivid portrayal of a young female werewolf coming of age. Vivian's father was killed in a fire that was the result of one pack member's thirst for human blood. The pack flees to regroup and select a new leader. At a new school, Vivian is attracted to Aiden, a sensitive human "meat-boy." With the pack in disarray, her mother's grief, and her loneliness, Vivian reaches out to him, believing that he will understand and love her even when she reveals herself "in her pelt." Therein lies the premise for this powerful story. The book is well constructed with visual imagery and deft descriptions. Klause's representation of the pack as a microcosm of society reveals the fragile nature of human behavior and emotions. Teens are shown that they can make mistakes and survive as they test the waters of friendship, love, belonging, and trust. The character's growth and development drives the plot, which sustains and creates moods that move readers from excitement to despair to hope. And throughout, they struggle between fascination, empathy, and revulsion with "werewolf culture." Few recent novels involve readers in such multiple levels of engagement. The climax is bittersweet and poignant. There are sexual overtones, both subtle and overt as Vivian's sexual awareness surfaces in scenarios throughout the book, as she struggles between human flirtation and her animal nature. There is no doubt that Blood and Chocolate is gripping, thrilling, and original. It is delicious and smooth, like chocolate, but only a good novel, like good chocolate, is this satisfying.
Beverly Youree (review date August 1997)
SOURCE: Youree, Beverly. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Voice of Youth Advocates 20, no. 3 (August 1997): 193.
Vivian, a high school student, is torn between two worlds—that of humans and that of werewolves [in Blood and Chocolate ]. After her father died in a fire, she and the rest of the "pack" move from West Virginia to Maryland. When a drawing she submits to the school's literary magazine is published next to a poem by an Aiden Teague, Vivian reads it and is amazed at his depth of understanding of werewolves. She plots to meet him and, eventually, they begin to date. Her mother and the pack warn her of the dangers of this relationship, but she refuses to listen. Vivian feels Aiden could handle, and would relish, the fact that she is a werewolf. However, her happiness ends when Aiden cringes and recoils during one of her transformations. That same night, a human is slaughtered. Since she has no recollection of anything since leaving Aiden's house, Vivian wonders if she is bringing danger to the pack by killing their neighbors.
Parallel to this plot is one dealing with choosing a new leader of the pack. Following the "old way," the pack decides that a physical contest between the males will determine the new leader. After the males fight, the females compete to see who will become the winner's mate and earn the title Queen Bitch. When Vivian is tricked into participating, she wins and finds herself pledged to Gabriel, the new leader of the pack. But she thinks she is still in love with Aiden.
Both plots merge as more deaths occur, and the pack's existence is threatened by Aiden's knowing Vivian is a werewolf. This tightly woven story is another superb title from a rising author. Teenage girls will understand Vivian's desire for popularity, her rebellion against her mother and other adults, her feeling of invincibility, and her wish to be part of a group. Despite these feelings, Vivian cares for the pack. This book should appeal to horror fans and even those who are not.
Charlotte Decker (review date January-February
SOURCE: Decker, Charlotte. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. Book Report 16, no. 4 (January-February 1998): 34.
Vivian Gandillon is a loup-garou, or werewolf, living in exile with members of her pack in a Maryland suburb [in Blood and Chocolate ]. Her family had been living peacefully in a remote part of West Virginia until one of the younger members killed a teen and aroused the neighbor's suspicions. Vivian's father, the pack's leader, died in a fire set by the neighbors, so now the survivors are regrouping, waiting for a new dominant male to emerge and lead the rest. Vivian is attracted to Aiden Geague, a "meat boy," who professes an interest in arcane lore. As Aiden and Vivian are drawn closer together, she knows that she must hide her animal side from him. Yet she feels Aiden is different and will understand. Believing he will love her for what she is, Vivian reveals her true self just as the couple is on the brink of consummating their love. But Aiden is repulsed by her animal being. Vivian is upset not only by Aiden's rejection but also by her own betrayal of the clan. The pack is also in turmoil as a mysterious male has joined the group ready to assume leadership. Events come to a climax when Vivian must act to save Aiden from the pack and the pack from Aiden. While arrangements are made for the survivors to move to a remote area in Vermont, Vivian must find the way to accept her true nature and forgive herself for the problems her attraction to a human caused the clan. Once she does, her life is one of promise and happiness. Clause has created a fascinating look into the world of werewolves. Her characters are believable and sympathetic. The emotions of Vivian are conflicting as she struggles between her attraction to Aiden and her loyalty to the pack as they flounder, leaderless, waiting for someone to emerge and find them a safe refuge. The story creates a sexy tone but nothing actually happens. Fans of Clause's earlier novel, The Silver Kiss, will enjoy this venture into the occult. This is a fast-paced, tightly plotted, well-written novel for mature readers.
English Journal (review date January 1999)
SOURCE: Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. English Journal 88, no. 3 (January 1999): 125.
Klause is the author of the highly acclaimed The Silver Kiss, which presented an appealing and "credible" love story of a young woman and a 200-year-old vampire. In Blood and Chocolate, she does something similar with a clan of werewolves, who refer to themselves as loupgarou, Volkodlak, or metamorphs. But while in The Silver Kiss, Klause's protagonist is the "normal" Zoë, in Blood and Chocolate the protagonist is Vivian, daughter of the leader of "the pack."
The title comes from a sentence in Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf, "In fear I hurried this way and that. I had the taste of blood and chocolate in my mouth, the one as hateful as the other." A second quote on the preface page is from Rudyard Kipling's "The Law of the Jungle": "Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can; But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man !"
The story opens with a fire in the West Virginia hills community where the pack of several loosely related families had lived until they were burned out by neighbors who rightly suspected that they had somehow been involved in the death of two people. Vivian's father is killed in the fire, and so the uprooted pack must find a new leader as well as a place to stay. They go to relatives in Maryland, and in her new high school Vivian is attracted to Aiden, a boy whose poem "Wolf Change?" gets published alongside a painting that she had done. As she and Aiden begin to love each other, she wants to share her secret, her magic, with him.
Part of the book's excitement is envisioning "the change" from Vivian's viewpoint. While from Aiden's point of view, and sometimes from Vivian's, there was the kind of fear and revulsion seen in horror films, there was also beauty and magic. Readers will go away from this book convinced that it pays to look beneath the surface, even when things are frightening and mysterious.
Rachel Avers-Nelson (review date autumn 1999)
SOURCE: Avers-Nelson, Rachel. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. School Librarian 47, no. 3 (autumn 1999): 157.
Vivian is an American werewolf and lives in suburbia with her mother and her pack of fellow were-wolves [in Blood and Chocolate ]. They are fragmented, having lost their leader, Vivian's father, when they were driven out of their previous home, a remote country pub. They are regrouping, leading conventional lives while earning enough money to move and buy another home away from civilisation. Disgusted by her fellow pack mates and desperate to be 'normal', Vivian begins to date Aiden, a mortal 'meat boy'.
This is a gripping read. The text is sexually highly charged though no scene progresses beyond a kiss. The savagery of the wolves and Vivian's very adult sexual awareness is contrasted with Aiden's teen idea of romance; and the tensions between Vivian's two lives are well described. The second half of the book explodes into violent action and the writing lacks subtlety as a result. Some of the romantic prose borders on Mills & Boon squeezed into a murder mystery but the undertones to the story remain disturbing and challenging. Vivian discovers how violent she can be when challenged. She is claimed by the new pack leader as his mate, despite her vehement opposition, and although he decides to woo her gently, he has every right in their culture to take her by force. In addition, she reveals her true nature to Aiden, discovering that his claims to be 'open minded' and 'into the supernatural' are all a posture and that he is as terrified as the next mortal.
Although everything seems rather squashed into this book it will be an excellent read for 14-year-olds and older. It is so compelling it lingers in the mind.
Freida Toth (review date January 2000)
SOURCE: Toth, Freida. Review of Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause. KLIATT 34, no. 1 (January 2000): 22-3.
[Blood and Chocolate ] is a great read, a fun read. Like its title, it is vaguely sexy, gently enticing. Vivian is a 16-year-old werewolf. Her pack has disdain bordering on contempt for humans, and the teenaged boys of the pack long to hunt people instead of mere animals. Like a hirsute Pocahontas, Vivian, the leader's daughter, attempts to forge a relationship with a member of the opposing group. Her romance fails once she reveals her wolfish nature; her true partner is found within the pack. The set-up is a good metaphor for the common teenage feeling of being an outsider. The almost happy-ever-after ending will appeal to those who like tidiness in their fiction.
This book is beautifully crafted. One doesn't get a sense of the work involved in smooth writing, and the wit is subtle. When Vivian is asked, at her first barbecue, how she likes her meat, she says, "Rare." No elaboration. It's moments later that it hits the reader what an understatement that one word is. Now the bad news: The sexism is appalling. It's all the worse because Klause attempts to create a strong female character. Vivian says, "I'll choose my own mate!" but ends up with the one the pack selected (who is enough older than she, by the way, that by human conventions he'd be arrested for his involvement). Vivian declares, "I can take care of myself!" but is saved from a physical threat by a male pack member. The females and the males each have a rite of passage based on combat; the males' rite is called The Ordeal, but the female equivalent is The Bitches' Dance. Worst of all, Vivian's mother (now widowed) and the one other prominent adult female are in constant, violent competition for one male. Isn't it bad enough when the term "predatory bitch" is only figurative?
That a book with contempt toward women is fun to read is amazing. That such an enjoyable, witty book is laced with said contempt, and is by a woman, is a shame.
Bodart, Joni Richards. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Wilson Library Bulletin 65, no. 7 (March 1991): 4.
Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of The Silver Kiss.
Chance, Rosemary. "Reality Check #3: Reading New Novels." Emergency Librarian 25, no. 1 (September-October 1997): 49-50.
Comments that Blood and Chocolate is a "gripping story that mixes sexual longings and terror."
Cox, Ruth. "Old and New Paperback Favorites." Teacher Librarian 26, no. 3 (January-February 1999): 44-5.
Describes Simon, one of the lead characters in The Silver Kiss, as "one of the sexiest vampires a young adult reader will meet."
Smith, Candace. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Booklist 87, no. 4 (15 October 1990): 439.
Applauds Klause's "poignant" romance in The Silver Kiss.
Sutton, Roger. Review of The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 44, no. 1 (September 1990): 10.
Commends The Silver Kiss as a "sexy, scary, and moving" first novel.
——. Review of Alien Secrets, by Annette Curtis Klause. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 47, no. 1 (September 1993): 15.
Praises certain aspects of Alien Secrets, but notes that Klause's characterizations are lacking in originality.
Additional coverage of Klause's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Thomson Gale: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 27; Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: Analyses, Vol. 14; Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, Vol. 12; Contemporary Authors, Vol. 147; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 83; Literature Resource Center; St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers; Something about the Author, Vol. 79; and Writers for Young Adults Supplement, Vol. 1.