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Vampiric Vacation: 02/01/23

Vampiric Vacation

Vampiric Vacation by Kiersten White (2022) is the second book in the Sinister Summer middle grade series. Really it should be the Sinister-Winterbottom Summer series given the family's hyphenated name, but that would be a bit long for covers, I suppose.

Without knowing how, exactly, or where exactly, the Sinister-Winterbottom siblings, Wil, and twins, Alexander and Theo, are on a mountain path in the "little Transylvania Mountains" headed towards a health spa where they are to find the next unspoken item on their aunt's list. Wil being sixteen is segregated to the adults while the twins are kept with the children, in the care of a Texan named Quincy.

The new head of the spa is someone known as the Count. The person who should be in charge as her family built it, is Mina. For readers who have read Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) or seen any of the many movies inspired by the novel, will be nodding about now. But Kiersten White isn't as obvious as all that. She is as much a punster and word mistress as Kate Milford, Cathrynne Valente, or Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher.

The world that the Sinister-Winterbottoms travel in is liminal space, straddling the mundane and the magical. In White's many descriptive paragraphs and in her observations on what the children are aware of (primarily Alexander) it's clear that time and space are being manipulated around them. It's not just narrative convention compressing things — it's diagetic and they are at least somewhat aware of it. How though it works or when it works is just out of grasp of their collective kenning.

Chart showing the the next door progression between books one and two

That manipulative of space and time (plus Aunt Saffronia's car) puts this series on the Road Narrative Spectrum. Interestingly, between the first and second books, the placement only changes by one factor: the destination. Both books so far involve sibling travelers and both routes are mazes. The difference between the books one and two, then, is the destination — from uhoria (the mystery of what happened to the waterpark before they got there) to the wildlands (the very remote location of the spa).

The third book is Camp Creepy (2023).

Five stars

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