Ella the Vampire by Barton Paul Levenson is not your typical vampire novel. It doesn't rely on the worn-out vampire-human romance or over-done tones of darkness and angst that tend to seep through the pages of most modern vampire novels. This book has something fresh to it – which, frankly, pleasantly surprised me. I'm generally not a fan of modern vampire novels because they tend to be overly romanticized, but while Ella does have a romance and sexiness all its own, the novel's core is made up of something else entirely.
As the novel begins, Ella is a reluctant practitioner of the world's oldest profession in modern-day Pittsburgh. After a chance run-in with a strange man, she grows fangs and is suddenly sensitive to sunlight. Once Ella realizes that she has been turned into a vampire, she uses her new powers to kill her pimp and run off with her fellow prostitutes to start a new life.
Ella adjusts almost a little too easily to her new condition and settles into a comfortable new life with her friends. Things are going great until Ella's "father in the blood" shows up and invites her to join his vampire coven. Somewhat reluctantly, Ella agrees to meet the other vampires.
After being introduced to other members of her kind, Ella's life is never the same. She becomes caught up in vampire politics, moral conundrums, and the biggest issue that comes with immortality: having to watch the ones you love grow old and die.
Even though it starts off a little slow, Ella the Vampire picks up steam with every chapter and delivers a fun, unique story filled with action, romance, and a surprising depth that I didn't expect to find in this type of novel. The story spans thousands of years, several civilizations and a colorful collection of well-defined characters that help bring the novel to life.
By far the biggest centerpiece of the entire story is the development of Ella's character from a headstrong, impulsive young woman to a wise old vampire who learns to accept her situation and try to make the best of it. The change felt natural and gradual enough to be believable – even though the story moved so quickly.
While Ella is a rather short novel, there are a few parts that seemed just a little drawn out, primarily near the beginning. A few things also didn't quite seem to be all that realistic. Perhaps this is due to Levenson's personal take on the vampire genre, but to me, some of the occurrences in the first third of novel felt a bit contrived and tedious to get through (I mean really, who would have thought that vampires could be so organized and bureaucratic?). It seemed to take a little while to get to the real "meat" of the book, but once I got there, I couldn't stop reading.
Ella the Vampire is a fun, entertaining story that will surprise you with complex themes and great character development. The story goes by fast and keeps you flipping pages to see what was going to happen to Ella next. The description is a little lacking in a few places, but the quick-witted dialogue and compelling characters are enough to keep the reader going until the end… and wanting more.