The intrepid librarian Shona McMonagle, erstwhile Marcia Blaine Academy prefect and an accomplished linguist and martial artist, finds herself in an isolated French mountain village, Sans-Soleil, which has no sunlight because of its topography. It’s reeling from a spate of unexplained deaths, and Shona has once again travelled back in time to help out.
Forging an uneasy alliance with newly widowed Madeleine, Shona is soon drawn into a full-blown vampire hunt, involving several notable villagers, the world-renowned soprano Mary Garden – and even Count Dracula himself. Will Shona solve the mystery, secure justice for the murder victims and make it through a deathly denouement in the hall of mirrors to return to present-day Morningside Library?
I read the first book in this series a few months ago and it was ok but I felt like I didn’t get it. Like I was missing something. I saw that the second book in the series, this one, promised vampires so knew that I just had to read it. However, I decided to read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie since it was referenced quite a bit in the first book, as I hoped that this would enhance my enjoyment. So I don’t know if it was the reading of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the presence of a vampire, or something else but I enjoyed this book so much more than Miss Blaine’s Prefect and The Golden Samovar. I actually couldn’t put this book down and gave it 4 stars and instantly looked for the next instalment of the series.
I really felt like I got to know Shona in this book. She was intelligent, confident, charismatic, and fearless. Yet she had absolutely zero common sense or regard for her safety. In the last book, that annoyed me but I get that this was part of her character. I accepted that the main character was going to get themselves into situations that could have been avoided by just thinking for…maybe 3 seconds. I think that coming to terms with the oblivious nature of the main character enhanced my enjoyment of this book.
In addition to Shona, she almost had a sidekick in Madeleine who was a widow that refused to believe that her husband had died. Madeleine was very similar to Shona in some ways as she was intelligent and a musical maestro. Although the main difference between the two was that Madeleine had a sense of self preservation and didn’t go around taking risks without taking precautions. I really enjoyed these two characters butting heads but learning to work together.
I also loved the two Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire references with references to Slains Castle and to Mary Garden. As I live in Aberdeen I get quite excited when there are references to Aberdeenshire.
This book was utterly hilarious! I found myself belly laughing at points. The plot included a vampire, cheese, and the French countryside which are all things that I enjoy in life (despite my lactose intolerance and fear of blood). There were so many just bizarre things that happened in this book; milk hoarding, vicious pigs, suspicious seeming officials, and missing corpses.
I had absolutely no idea how this book was going to end. I didn’t want to put it down as every time I told myself “put the book down at the end of the chapter”, something bonkers would happen so I’d have to keep reading. My experience of reading this book was just so enjoyable and I had such a smile on my face. The twists were just excellent and unexpected.
While this was the second book in a series, this book could work brilliantly as a standalone as Shona’s character was shown really well. The first chapter really laid the foundation of the premise of Miss Blaine and what was expected from her prefects. I already have a friend I plan to loan this book to as I think they’ll love it too.
The next book in this series comes out soon and I’m so excited read the next adventure of Shona. I’ve absolutely no idea what she’s going to get up to next or who is going to save her next. I’m really happy to have a new series that I’m looking forward to continuing with…and ignoring my ever expanding list of active series.