Are you a Twilight fan? If so, you may enjoy Tantalize by Cynthia Leitch Smith. This book is about a "normal" 17-year-old girl, Quincie Morris, who happens to be in love with her hybrid werewolf best friend, Kieren. Orphaned at the age of 13, Quincie is under the care of her Uncle Davidson, and is heir to Singuinis, their family restaurant. After expansion and renovations, Singuinis is getting ready for its grand opening. In order to attract more customers, the restaurant has come up with an alluring draw; it will have a vampire theme. At the beginning of Tantalize, a family friend of Quincie‘s and the head chef at their restaurant, Vaggio, is murdered. It is uncertain how Vaggio was killed or who did the deed but the evidence shows that the murderer was not human, pointing towards either a werewolf or a vampire as the culprit. This creates a mysterious twist throughout the book as they try to figure out what exactly happened. Suspicion begins to tear friendships apart and Quincie becomes more and more weary of Kieren, her best friend.
I personally did not really like Tantalize. There were some aspects of the book that I did enjoy, but there were more aspects that I did not enjoy. While reading a good book, the reader should become absorbed in the story. However, while reading Tantalize, it was hard for me connect with the characters and really get into it because the characters were extremely flat and did not develop or change much at all. There is also a heavy buildup leading to the climax. Yet when that big event comes, it is not nearly as climatic and dramatic as it could be. The ending was actually quite disappointing. It seems as though something really bad is going to happen as a result of this climatic event, but then nothing does. When the antagonist‘s plan falls apart, the story basically stops and the book is over. I found it to be extremely unrealistic that this “villain“ would just walk away without a second glance. The ending is not your typical “happily ever after,” but Quincie (the protagonist) didn‘t have to work very hard to defeat the antagonist.
For the author Cynthia Leitch Smith, fantasy is a relatively new genre. In fact, Tantalize is only the second fantasy book that she has written. Unfortunately, you can tell. It is clear that she has not quite mastered the fantasy genre as the story is not always believable within the world that was created for the book.
Although Tantalize was disappointing, there were some things that I liked about it. The way that the book was narrated made it more enjoyable and the author's use of words helped. Tantalize was very entertaining and had a unique sense of humor. The tone was sometimes sarcastic, but in a way that was relatable to. Quincie has not exactly had the average teenage life. In fact, there are some pretty extreme events and situations that happen to her. However, although I was sometimes able to relate to Quincie‘s situations and dilemmas, it was sometimes hard to feel any sympathy for her since she does not seem to have much depth.
I would not recommend Tantalize to someone who already has a long list of books that they want to read. I didn't think that it was a waste of my time to read this book because it helped me to figure out my standards for what makes a book "good" or "bad." Since I don't really have enough time to read books that are poorly written, I would have rather read something more sophisticated. But, if the style of writing rather than the plot is more important, and if you like fantasies and mysteries, then Tantalize would be a good book to read.
Review by Marie L., Uni High School
by Cynthia Leitch Smith