Look, everyone! It's a book review. Now don't go getting used to this kind of thing... ;-)
Lenah Beaudonte has been alive, if you can call it that, for more than five hundred years. She has killed without mercy and assembled a coven of the most powerful, most dangerous vampires in the world and bound them together with magic. She has worn the finest fashions of every decade and has the literally eternal love of two vampires. But with eternal life comes eternal suffering and eternal longing for one thing: a human life. Lenah is dying to live even if living ultimately means dying. When the one who first changed her to a vampire finds the secret to returning her to human life, Lenah finds her greatest wish coming true. She returns to mortality as a student at a New England prep school where she quickly befriends Tony, an artist, and falls for Justin, arguably the most gorgeous guy in school, who glows with the life that Lenah has been missing. It's not long, though, until Lenah's vampire days come back to haunt her because the magic that binds her wicked coven cannot be severed, and she is doomed to be hunted by her most vicious creations. It will take everything Lenah has learned in just a few months of being human to save the people and the life she has come to love.
At first, I though Infitinite Days really wasn't going to work for me. I can't tell you how many times within the first 50 to 100 pages I was tempted to give up on it. I had a hard time buying Lenah as a teenager. As much as I loved and felt for Tony as a character, I had a hard time believing that anyone would be as blindly accepting as he was of the many things Lenah is inexplicably clueless about. Things that anybody who hasn't been asleep for the last hundred years would know about were overexplained. Also, the thought that you could be a girl who is over 500 years old and still fall for that perfect-looking prep school lacrosse player guy just like any other silly girl was, if not unbelievable, then at least disheartening. I didn't put it down, though, and I'm glad of it because once I got through the rocky beginning with only Lenah's vampire flashbacks somehow ringing true and drawing me into her world, Infinite Days really started to come into its own.
Maizel's vampires are not the romanticized, cuddly sorts of vampires popular in many books, they are cold-blooded killers driven to kill by their fury and resentment at being robbed of the pleasures of human life and left to exist for all eternity. Lenah is a well-drawn character who forces us to be both appalled at her actions and sympathetic to her trials as she tries to re-acclimate to human life in an unfamiliar place and time. Her struggle with her guilt from centuries of perpetrating horrors as she gains the human ability to truly feel and the flashbacks to her memories of love and loneliness and treachery in the life she lived as a vampire are rich and haunting. Set in sharp relief against Lenah's expansive past, the private school's petty rivalries and would-be bullying seem even more ridiclous and downright laughable. I'm also happy to report that despite my initial qualms about Justin as a love interest, Maizel does a good job of explaining Lenah's attraction to Justin as more having to do with how he pulses with life more than anyone she's met rather than his simply being "that guy" that all the girls fall for. Somehow Lenah knows that it is Justin who will be able to teach her how to truly live again, a lesson that she is most desperate to learn.
Ultimately Infinite Days is a compelling, fast-paced story of a vampire turned human whose newly-learned humanity might just be the key to her salvation.
And, of course, there will be a sequel. And, of course, I will be awaiting it eagerly.
(My copy provided by the publisher via Shelf Awareness. Thanks!)