I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Vanquishers by Kalynn Bayron. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
Apparently between this book and What We Do In the Shadows, I am a fan of vampire stories again, or maybe for the first time. (On a related note, I would like season 5 now, please.)
In The Vanquishers, Boog has grown up in a city that has dealt with vampires for years. Since she’s been alive, though, the vampires have been defeated and extinct since the group of heroes called the Vanquishers wiped them out. Boog is frustrated due to her parents’ continued paranoia, but she herself isn’t afraid. She has good friends at school, and makes a new one when she meets the new student, Aaron. However, soon Aaron goes missing, and the town fills with fear and whispers about what might have happened to him. Boog is determined to find him, and decides to investigate with her other friends. The more she learns, the more she starts to wonder—are the vampires really gone, or is there a need for the Vanquishers again?
This book is fun! It reminds me of the first season of Stranger Things, but less dark.
Boog (a nickname, and I forgot what her given name is) and her friends Jules and Cedrick are so sweet, and they make a good team. I also really liked Aaron. And all these kids’ parents are also wonderful. It’s nice to see a positive example of community like this, and I really enjoyed how all the adults helped each other and their children. One of the most interesting aspects of this, though, was the way we could see through Boog’s eyes that the adults are hiding things. It’s pretty fascinating to try to piece together what they’re going through using her limited perspective, and this shows well how adults have their own rich lives outside of their children, and sometimes have to keep secrets to protect their loved ones. I totally called the dramatic reveal at the end, though!
The supernatural aspect of this story is so well done, though I honestly wanted a little more from it. The potential threat of vampires is such a hidden, unseen, threat for so long that when things started to happen (minor spoiler, I guess?) it felt like not enough. While I liked the slightly sinister, building suspense, I wanted a little more action. Granted, this is the first of a series, so I suppose there will be more in the next installment, so that’s okay.
In the end, I really liked The Vanquishers! The characters are excellent, the mysterious elements are good, and overall the story is perfect for the fall. I’m looking forward to the second book, whenever it comes. If you’re looking for a spooky but also fun tale that would also appeal to kids, try this!
The Vanquishers will be published on September 20th, 2022!