Razorbill/Penguin, August 23 2011, $18.99
Four Alchemists arrive at the home of Sydney, her parents and her sister Zoe. Sydney assumes they will send her to a reeducation center for her assistance to Rose Hathaway the dhampir (see the Vampire Academy series). Instead they want Zoe, but her dad says his frightened youngest is not ready to protect other humans from vampires. He suggests Sydney instead. Reluctantly they agree so with a warning they will assign teenaged Sydney to protect Moroi vampire Queen Lissa Dragomir’s half-sister Jill from an assassin. The plan is to hide the princess at Amberwood Prep, a Palm Springs, California exclusive school for humans while Sydney poses as Jill’s older sister.
Sydney knows this will not be an easy assignment as she has been indoctrinated with the belief that vampires are predatory monsters though her work has her dividing the undead into two sub-species, the evil Strigoi and the Moroi. The safe school includes sleazy Keith who blames Sydney for his troubles and her friend Adrian who helps her though she has a different kind of help in mind. She finds the prep school has unsafe secrets.
The start of a related to the Vampire Academy new series, Bloodlines is an engaging urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine who keeps the exciting story line focused. Sydney accepts a job she does not want to protect her sister and to gain fatherly approval while hoping to get out of trouble with the Alchemist hierarchy. Besides the fun of crossovers like Adrian, Sydney brings freshness with her personality so different from the extroverted VA protagonists. Although this reviewer has a problem with teenage females dieting to size zero to obtain approval from family and friends, readers will enjoy Sydney’s Palm Springs adventures.