Quincie Morris is having a hard time of it. Still recovering from her parents’ accidental death, Quincie feels distant from her guardian uncle, whose vampire wannabe girlfriend is seriously creepy. What’s more, Quincie’s best friend (and secret love) Kieren, a werewolf hybrid who has trouble controlling his impulses, is about to leave human society forever, to find a pack of his own. About the only thing keeping Quincie going these days is her mission to reopen her family’s failed Italian eatery as Sanguini’s, a vampire-themed restaurant, complete with costumes, candelabras and a charismatic chef. But when Sanguini’s head chef is brutally murdered in an incident that looks suspiciously like a werewolf attack, Quincie is left with even more questions. Is it possible that Kieren could be responsible? Will Sanguini’s be able to open on schedule? And, most doubtfully, will Quincie be able to turn her uncle’s choice for a chef, the utterly un-goth Henry Johnson, into a convincingly bloodthirsty chef in time for the grand opening? Set in Austin, Texas, in a world that’s both like and unlike our own, Tantalize is a gothic novel that never takes itself too seriously. Instead of weighing the novel down by explaining supernatural mythology, author Cynthia Leitich Smith simply tells her story, letting readers figure out the hierarchies of wereanimals and vampires, as well as the numerous references to gothic classics, as they go along. This matter-of-fact approach, along with Quincie’s sarcastic narration and take-charge attitude, will appeal to fans both teens and adults of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Whether it’s the whirlwind plot, the unresolved ending, the fabulous Italian food or all that blood, readers will certainly be licking their lips at the end of Tantalize, their appetites whetted for Smith’s next enticing adventure.