What is the difference between seeing the world at 15 and seeing it at 22? As a teenager, you may wish to be perceived as an adult, but once you are an adult you no longer have the innocence of your teenage years. So how does that work when you have the composure of an older soul in the body of a younger person?
The Season of Risks is the third in Susan Hubbard’s series of “Ethical Vampire” novels documenting the path of young Ariella Montero, a half-vampire struggling to understand her place in the world. As much a coming-of-age story as anything, Hubbard weaves the tricks of memory, facing the consequences of impulsive decisions, and the fragility of love, friendship, and family into a compelling world that somehow manages to avoid the pitfalls of your usual vampire series.
Hubbard, a professor of English at the University of Central Florida, has proven that a novel can be entertaining and literary at the same time. Her gift for language is reflected on every page with her fluid descriptions of places, thoughts, and feelings that never seem to get bogged down by cliche or overly flowery prose. And yet she still manages to present complex stories with intriguing characters without mixing High School Musical and the supernatural.
In The Society of S, we were introduced to then 13-year old Ariella and her father Raphael in New York as Ari discovered that she’s not your average home-schooled teenager. She is in fact a half-vampire, born of her vampire father and her human mother, who disappeared soon after she was born. As if that wasn’t enough, her friend Katherine was tragically killed. By the end of the book, she’s gone on a Jack Keroac-inspired road trip to find her mother and come to grips with the new world she finds herself in.
Then in The Year of Disappearances, she reconnected with her mother and her friends Dashay and Bennett on a ranch in Homosassa Springs, Florida. Along the way, she met some new friends and ends up starting college at Hillhouse, a private liberal arts school in Georgia her mother had attended. Much like in the first book, death and mystery seemed to follow poor Ari as she continued to explore life as a vampire in a human world.
Now in The Season of Risks she is older and wiser, with a few more experiences under her belt. Beginning her second year of college, Ari is not only dealing with the deaths of her friends the previous year but possible romantic feelings for Neil Cameron, a Presidential candidate who happens to be a vampire.
The difference in ages between the potential lovers raises some sticky ethical issues for Ari and Cameron, trying to keep their budding relationship a secret from prying eyes. But when Ari hears about a medicine that may age her forward a few years to bridge the gap, a love affair becomes more of a possibility. Would aging herself from 15 to 22 be enough to let them be together?
Though Ari would have liked to discuss the treatment with her parents and friends, she knows they would quickly shoot the idea down as unsafe. Plus, her parents have moved to Ireland to continue her father’s research into vampiric DNA and her friend Dashay is putting things back together on their ranch in Homosassa Springs, Florida. And her friends at college probably wouldn’t understand either, except for possibly Sloan, a new art student who’d taken an interest in Ari.
Hubbard shakes things up towards the end with a great twist that caught me by surprise and pushes the story through to the end. Many questions arise and most are answered by the conclusion. But I think this world still has many stories to tell about the world of vampires.
Like the first two books of the series, this one was a fast read. Thanks to the amazing writing and engaging story, it took me three sittings to complete. And, like when I finished The Year of Disappearances I was already looking forward to the next book, which is always a good sign!
If you are looking for an alternative to Twilight, I’d strongly encourage you to check out Susan Hubbard’s series. These books present vampires without all the shirtless flexing. Look for The Society of S, The Year of Disappearances, and The Season of Risks on bookshelves now.