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Worth the Candle
The distance between "high school as horror" and "high school as horror novel" is short-and often traversed. In fact, entertainment has been so overrun with teen vampires in recent years, you might think there's nothing to want beyond Buffy and Bella.
You would be wrong. Because between Buffy and Bella, Douglas Rees gave us Vampire High, a funny yet unerringly thoughtful novel about Vlad Dracul High School, a magnet school in New Sodom, Massachusetts, where all the students except a few on the water polo team are tall, and pale, and refined beyond their years.
The newest of the water polo players is Cody Elliott, a Californian who's worked up a huge sulk about his family's relocation to New England. In the fall of his freshman year, Cody has cut so much school that he's even flunking homeroom. Faster than a Nimbus 2000, he gets transferred to Vlad Dracul, a tradition-bound place whose students have mysterious gifts. The school needs to field a water polo team to remain in the graces of the state education department, and jenti (the word "vampires" is a slur) won't go near water. So long as he swims for the Impalers, Cody will get As, no academic work necessary. What a sweet deal!
Except that Cody comes to realize it isn't. Pretty soon, he's searching for meaning.
And if readers who come to this book for the parody and the hilarity, wind up staying for the portrait of how friendship, honor and effort make life worthwhile-well, a spoonful of garlic makes just about everything more savory.