I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Garlic & the Vampire by Bree Paulsen. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
While this had me intrigued by the title, I didn’t expect this to be so bloody (pun very much intended) adorable!
In Garlic & the Vampire, Garlic lives with many other anthropomorphic vegetables in a garden on the property of a witch. Their peaceful life is shattered, though, when one day they spot smoke coming from the chimney of an abandoned castle nearby. The witch tells them she suspects the vampire who used to live there (or… un-live there? I don’t know) has returned. The veggies, frightened for the humans, elect Garlic as the one to investigate. After all, vampires hate garlic, right? But Garlic is terrified, and doesn’t believe she can do this. Still, she goes to the castle, and what she discovers there changes everything.
Like I said before, this is ADORABLE. I absolutely loved Garlic as a protagonist. She’s anxious and sweet and has lovely character development. The other characters, especially Carrot, Agnes, and Count, were wonderful, and the dialogue is great.
Considering this is a middle grade novel, I had a feeling what the general plot was going to be and was pretty much correct. However, I didn’t expect this story to be executed in such a charming way.
The art is fantastic, from the settings to the expressions to the more action-y scenes. The pacing was perfect; Paulsen knows how to convey the passage of time or movement really well through art. Also, Garlic is the cutest little thing ever!
This isn’t the first book to be about gaining self-confidence, or the first one about learning that judging people before you meet them, or by their outward appearance, is wrong. However, I don’t care, because it’s wholesome and funny and touching. In the end, this is a fantastic little story!
Overall rating: 9/10
Garlic & the Vampire will be published on September 28th, 2021!