Josh Reviews: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Posted November 3, 2012 by Joshua Burns in / 1 Comment

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Title: Tantalize
Series: Tantalize #1
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Published: February 13th, 2007
ISBN #: 9780763627911 / 0763627911
Genre: Young Adult
My Copy: borrowed
Rating:Paw RatingPaw RatingPaw RatingPaw RatingPaw Rating
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Are you predator or prey?



Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses — or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.

Tantalize, for all the lightness that verb stirs up, lays the drama on thick and builds and builds its sickening, somewhat obvious, but nonetheless disturbing twist for a narrator, Quincie Morris, whose voice and personality is distinctive, in a crowd of very active and gung-ho chicks with crucifixes, fangs, kung-fu, and guns (other werebooks, not this one).

Tantalize is not for the high body count, romp calculators.

Tantalize, divided into four sections each with Italian names such as primo, antipasto, and dulce is not a pot-boiler, more of a simmerer. Titillating if you will. Tantalizing for sure.

Whether Tantalize can, in fact, stand up to multiple readings is not yet clear but it certainly merits one.

Tantalize does the reader great justice by cutting out before things are completely resolved while, at the same time, not cutting out so soon that the only thing we are left to fill the silence with are our own curses that we do not yet have hold of the sequel. Tantalize‘s ending leaves a little room for speculation but, and this is a mark of a confident book, closes similar to how it began.

What you have to admire are the details that Tantalize‘s author incorporates from the restaurant’s menu to a review of the restaurant to classified ads, giving it that dose of extranarratorial voices. Of course, Quincie Morris serves up a decent smattering of thoughts that she wishes she didn’t have, thoughts that we wish she didn’t have, thoughts that are hard to follow, and thoughts that we would like to hear again.

Where does Tantalize stand as far as the paranormal are concerned? In the end we get a heap of them that twists about on itself and keeps us second guessing nearly too much to let who is who and who is what sink in. Quincie’s boyfriend, Kieren, part Wolf hybrid, definitely could have done with more development. To Quince, he seems just about a pretty face and a unfortunate pair of claws although his digs and his mother are respectively the most tantalizing location and the most tantalizing side character on the table.

All in all, I like that Tantalize shapes its plot around a location, a restaurant that has gone through hard times but Quincie, because her parents and grandparents were invested in it, dedicates her school time and afterschool time to making it the talk of the town. When you center a plot around a location like this, it really strengthens the occurrences and prevents them from slipping into that arbitrary soup. Tantalize‘s ending comes close to that arbitrary unraveling but chooses its ending wisely and sharply like a dash of paprika.

Books in this series:
Tantalize Eternal Blessed Diabolical

Recommendation: A full course to be savored. Not devoured.
Like this, like that: Fenestra series by Amber Kizer and the Dreaming Anastasia series by Joy Preble


About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada

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Reviews UF/PR novels with an eye for weres of all kinds.

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