Tuesday 17 May 2011

Die for Me

Die for MeDie for Me by Amy Plum (Atom/Little, Brown/Hachette)
PB RRP $18.99
ISBN 978-1-907411-02-1
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

First-time novelist, Amy Plum, has delivered a gem in Die for Me, where the undead heroes, especially Vincent Delacroix, are sophisticated, elegant, noble and drop-dead gorgeous.  Set against the background of Paris, it is almost inevitable that romance and history as well as tragedy combine with this paranormal story.

Americans, Kate and her older sister, Georgia, are orphaned when their parents are killed in a car accident. Grief-stricken, they move from Brooklyn to Paris, to live with their grandparents. It is familiar territory as many holidays have been spent in The City of Light, and both girls speak fluent French. However, their grieving is expressed differently. Georgia loves bright lights and dancing for distraction, whereas Kate simply wants to be alone to read. Goaded by Georgia to join the real world, Kate decides to take her books out of the bedroom and into the café culture.  It is while sitting with a coffee at a street café that Kate first notices a group of extremely good-looking young men, one in particular, and is noticed in return. Unaware as yet, Kate has just laid on eyes Vincent Delacroix, who seems unable to tear his eyes away from her.

Soon after, while taking an evening walk by the river, Kate and Georgia witness a string of events including an attempted suicide and rescue, and a sword fight. The boys Kate saw in the café are involved, together with another couple of huge men. Frightened, the girls take off, but not before the men study them with great interest. The girls are puzzled and intrigued, but it is not until later in the story that the significance of this incident is made plain.

When Kate next sees Vincent, her destiny is sealed.  Kate’s journey to true love is a bewildering and confusing relationship with the handsome Vincent, and the slow realization that he is not merely a handsome nineteen year old, but someone from a different era who has cycles of rebirth on a treadmill of sacrificing his life for others. His friends, too, are in this position. Called revenants, they are not human, but immortals. In Kate’s words, “an undead-guardian-angel type of monster that runs around saving human lives.” Their enemies are the numa, whose mission is to destroy the revenants and anyone else in their path.

This is a dazzling novel mid-teenage girls will love. It’s beautiful cover is enticing; the romance is sweet; and sex is very much a far-horizon thought. The imaginative storyline has great impact, with a strong mix of tenderness, intrigue, violence and the triumph of true love. The publishing managers hope the detailed setting will have readers reaching for their iPads to probe the historical sites. I dare to say when the last word of Die for Me is read, a sigh of satisfaction is guaranteed.

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