School LIbrary Journal (USA) | 26 April 2010 | Susan L Rogers
This is the fifth novel in the continuing saga of the youthful half-vampire assistant to Larten Crepsley, a full vampire. Crepsley has brought Darren to Vampire Mountain to undergo the Trials of Death, an elective ritual periodically undergone by vampires in order to bond with the clan and prove their worth. As a half-vampire, Darren is in more danger of failing the trials than the others who usually participate, but he is determined to go ahead. The penalty for failing without dying is execution. In the background a new conflict looms, involving the vampaneze, purple-skinned killers who resemble vampires but who are nothing like the beings whom Darren has come to respect and admire. When it appears that he will not survive the trials, his vampire friends urge him to escape. Escorting him out through the mountain's underground tunnels, they run smack into an incoming vampaneze invasion. In the final pages, the plot and action finally pick up to fever pace as Darren is caught between invaders, defenders, and possibly a traitor in the ranks of the faithful. Characters are mostly one-dimensional, and the plot plods along until the final conflict heats up the action. Although the story stands on its own, there isn't much reason to read this one aside from following the series.
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