Back jacket copy:
Imagining vampires at the heart of the social struggles of 1920s, Moonshine blends a tempestuous romance with dramatic historical fiction, populated by a lively mythology inhabiting the gritty New York City streets
Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school to the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss. What he doesn’t tell her is why. Soon enough she’s tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood-based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir’s request—not to mention attempting to resist (often unsuccessfully) his dark, inhuman charm.
The advance praise:
“Moonshine is an utterly captivating novel, depicting a richly detailed 1920s alternative New York City inhabited by social activists, feminists…and Others–vampires, fairies, and the occasional, charming genie, as vampire-suffragette Miss Zephyr Hollis discovers. A fabulous entertainment.”
–Ellen Datlow, multi award-winning editor
“I love Zephyr Hollis and the magical version of New York she lives in. Johnson’s new series is witty, fun, and stuffed with delicious tidbits of history and mythic lore.”
-Terri Windling, award-winning author of THE ARMLESS MAIDEN
“I hope Zephyr Hollis’s adventures have only begun. I want more!”
–Emma Bull, author of WAR FOR THE OAKS
“A rip roaring romp through a fascinating period in history and a thoroughly enjoyable read…a winner!” –Karen Chance, author of THE CASSANDRA PALMER SERIES
“A page-turning delight, with bicycles and enchanted blades, drug wars and settlement evening schools, romance and heartbreak. Move over, Buffy and Anita, and make room for Zephyr Hollis!”
–Sarah Smith, author of THE VANISHED CHILD
“In Alaya Johnson’s gripping, fast moving story, historical accuracy smoothly blends with outrageous fantasy: Gangs of New York meets True Blood!”
–Rhys Bowen, author of A GILDED CAGE, the Molly Murphy Mystery Series
“Alaya Johnson has broken new ground with a book that combines a fascinating time in history with our favorite mythological creatures – vampires”.
–Terri Persons, author of BLIND SPOT and BLIND RAGE
“Vampires and vamps; welcome to a Roaring ’20s New York where the undead go to night school, and speakeasies serve up the occasional bathtub djinn… a first novel to delight fans of Buffy and Harry Dresden.”
–Gregory Frost, author of SHADOWBRIDGE and LORD TOPHET
“Moonshine is the smartest, most addictive vampire & demon hunter novel ever. It’s sharp, funny and sexy and set in 1920s NYC. Who could ask for anything more?”
— Justine Larbalestier, author of LIAR and HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRY
The official pre-publication reviews:
Fans of Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris will be engaged by this tale, the first in a series set in a parallel 1920s New York City. Zephyr Hollis, a demon-hunter’s daughter, has an unusual immunity to the undead that keeps her safe while she teaches vampire night school and marches with the Family Action Committee for Nonhuman Laborers. Hardheaded and softhearted, she soon earns the nickname of “the vampire suffragette.” When an attractive djinn, Amir, asks Zephyr to help him take down Rinaldo, a vampire mob boss, she finds herself in an unlikely romance as she rushes to get information out of the notorious Turn Boys gang before her father kills them. The prose is generally solid, and Johnson’s light, tongue-in-cheek approach makes it surprisingly easy to imagine supernatural creatures picketing Gentleman Jimmy Walker’s City Hall. (May)
In the cold winter of 1920s New York, Zephyr Hollis struggles to survive, fighting to help the unfortunate as a teacher to new immigrants and a group of supernatural beings. When one of her students, Amir, asks her to find a supercriminal, she agrees, needing the cash and believing in the cause. But Amir has secrets, and as they discover a passion for each other, those secrets may be Zephyr’s undoing. General fantasy readers may enjoy this debut, but those looking for a hard-core urban fantasy or paranormal romance will be disappointed. There are too many supernatural beings floating about with little explanation as to why and how they exist. VERDICT Despite these flaws, the character of Zephyr is well drawn and likable, and her relationship with Amir is funny and sexy, although the couple never gets beyond frustrated attempts at lovemaking. [Library marketing campaign.]—Jennifer Draper, Pickering P.L., Ont.
Good-hearted advocate of vampire rights negotiates the mean streets of 1920s Manhattan. Johnson (Racing The Dark, 2007, etc.) takes a break from speculative fiction for young adults in this first volume of a projected series that populates an alternate world with some colorful characters and clever ideas. The author imagines jazz-age New York as a city in which vampires and other supernatural denizens stalk the same streets as entertainers like Josephine Baker or the corrupt politicians of Tammany Hall. Our narrator is feisty Zephyr Hollis, daughter of a famous monster-hunter, who has reinvented herself in the city as a social organizer and teacher. Zephyr preaches tolerance of nonhumans but carries a silver switchblade to protect herself from the nightlife, despite a natural immunity to vampires. Among her interesting companions are ambitious tabloid reporter Lily Harding, progressive activist Iris Tomkins and, most dangerously, Amir the Djinn, a genie whose interest in Zephyr sums her up nicely. “You are a bit of a contradiction, aren’t you?” he says. “A wholesome Montanan girl comes to the city, dabbles in demon hunting and then reinvents herself as a martyr to the poor and disenfranchised?” Before long Zephyr is tracking a newly turned vampire child and reluctantly helping Amir hunt down Rinaldo Sanguinetti, the vampire boss of Little Italy, whose gang of “Turn Boys” terrorizes the streets. Adding to the tension is a new phenomenon dubbed the “Faustian Nightmare,” an onslaught of vampires addicted to a vicious new street drug. Johnson’s lively narrative has some faults. Anachronistic contemporary language occasionally belies the ’20s setting. Laurell K. Hamilton’s books (IncubusDreams, 2004, etc.) are far racier, while Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt series (Half the Blood of Brooklyn, 2007, etc.) has more grit. Nevertheless, the inventive, reasonably well-researched setting and obvious historical parallels mostly work to the novel’s advantage. A bit jumbled, but entertaining and potentially a good start for a series offering a different take on the undead craze.