With a title like that, you knew I'd be dying to read this one, didn't you? Okay, then. On with the review.
Reader Gut Reaction: Here's the recap: Cynical, snarky, fast-talking high school freshman faculty brat who fights evil. That's basically the novel. No Buffy here - but the banter and must-save-the-world thing tells me the author might have watched an episode or two. Lots of love going on for the strong heroine and her unbeatable sidekick friends. Author Isabel Kunkle manages to write a novel which is genuinely like Freshman year - crammed with moments both hilarious and horrible, with a few surprises along the way.
Despite its hilarious name, there are no real hickeys. Sadly. The novel is a little verbose, and slightly predictable, but it's an excellent, original and fresh effort, and I love the way it was first serialized by Candlemark & Gleam. (Also: I LOVE the name of that publishing company!! It just says "spending time by candlelight" to me. Sigh.) This character has verve and energy, and I look forward to reading more from this author & tales of Springden Academy.
Concerning Character: Consuela - Connie - is dreading freshman year. It's not as if the school is new to her - mother has been Head of Springden Academy for years - only now she's in high school, and all of the fun people who came over and hung out with her parents who were just their friends are now her teachers. The school only has three hundred students, and about 85% of them board. There's no privacy, no secrets, and no escape from the gimlet eye of the faculty.
Or Connie's mother.
And yet, it looks like things might not be that bad. She's made a couple of actual friends, and there's a few guys who were sophomores ore juniors last year who now suddenly look fairly decent. Things are going great.
Until the nightmares start, and that one girl goes crazy...
Something is taking out the girls at Connie's school, right and left. It starts off like the nastiest 'flu in the world, and some kids aren't recovering. What's worse, is Connie is somehow... maybe making it happen...
Recommended for Fans Of...: Really? Buffy. Sorry, had to go there. Also recommended for fans of Hermione, fans of Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic novels, and fans of The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown.
Themes & Things: This is a coming of age novel, yes. It's about a really intelligent main character, dealing with the things, doing what she can to help others, and realizing that sometimes you don't get thanks for it, and you have to take the fall. But it is also clearly a deconstruction of The Hot Brooding Loner trope. I shan't expand on that, or it would lead to spoilers, but it shows some thought on the part of the author.
Cover Chatter: The cover scared me. Clueless looking girl. Stack of books. BIG MASSIVE THING on her neck. I was like, "Eeeeeeeeew!" And to be honest, I pretty much said that in high school whenever I saw hickeys (hickies?) on people. (Looking at you, Tanya H.) CLEARLY, I have no romance within my soul.
The cover gets a reaction. That's exactly what it's supposed to do. It's perfect. Ugh.
You can find THE HICKEY OF THE BEAST at an independent bookstore near you, or in ebook form @ Candlemark & Gleam!