From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up For fans of vampire literature, this book can be fun. It is a retelling of the Alcott classic with the March family as humanitarian vampires they will not ingest the blood of humans. Set as the original is during the Civil War, the story follows the traditional plot. The family must survive without Mr. March, who is off at war, bolstered by his abolitionist views. Marmee is home with her four lovely daughters. They are not interested in furthering their numbers. Jo refuses to mate with Laurie, even though he desperately wants to be a vampire, too. The Marches are not shunned from society and intermingle with some ordinary humans, though there are those who would do them harm. Although vampires are supposed to live forever, a strange illness has threatened Mr. March, and Beth does eventually succumb. Thus the role of the vampire defenders becomes important, and Jo is passionate about joining their ranks. Messina has cleverly interspersed footnotes in the text to explain some past vampire accomplishment or event. The serious, scholarly tone with which they are written makes them quite humorous. The author's prose style is sharp, and her imprint on these characters is distinct. There is certainly an audience for this selection, and it may introduce readers to a classic. Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
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“‘Christmas won't be Christmas without any corpses,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.” Alcott's classic receives the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) treatment—and it's surprisingly effective. The original March family was characterized by their poverty, independence, and firm morals in the face of wealthy neighbors and decadent temptations. The vampire version has the equally poor Marches resisting the urge to dine on humans, instead drinking the blood of rats, beavers, and in Beth's case, her beloved kittens. These Marches preach humanitarianism and fight valiantly against vampire slayers, but most of the original plot is preserved. Meg marries John Brooke (after “siring” him as a vampire), Amy marries Laurie (ditto), Jo falls for the Transylvanian vampire Mr. Bhaer, and Beth . . . dies (from poisoned kittens). Jo's tomboyish behavior translates perfectly to a vampire's impassioned need for blood. Though the audience is necessarily limited mostly to those who have read the original, those who have will be delighted by Messina's clever and loving spoof, replete with excellent wordplay and footnotes to clarify vampire history. Grades 7-12. --Debbie Carton