July 26, 2023

REVIEW The Vanquishers (The Vanquishers #1) by Kalynn Bayron

The Vanquishers (The Vanquishers #1) 
by Kalynn Bayron
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: September 20, 2022
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books 

I first discovered Kalynn Bayron through her young adult debut novel Cinderella is Dead, and it was exciting to also be able to read her middle-grade debut The Vanquishers (which is set to be part of a series). The book makes it clear that she excels at fairytale and mythology retellings, and I enjoyed the humorous, lighthearted, and playful story that had dashes of horror and fantasy thrown in. 

Malika ‘Boog’ Wilson and her friends have grown up in a world where vampires are real, and a group of vampire hunters known as ‘The Vanquishers’ are celebrated for having rid the world of the menace twenty years ago in an event called the Reaping. Despite the rest of the world having accepted that as being the end of the problem, Boog’s parents still insist on following all the necessary precautions (much to her dismay). After a new friend from school goes missing, Boog and friends are determined to save him but they realize the vampires might not have been as ‘vanquished’ as they thought.

There’s been a plethora of vampire mythology and lore produced throughout the years, and Ms. Bayron put a unique spin on the source material to craft her world. The synopsis from the publisher mentions influences and inspiration being taken from The Watchmen and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I can definitely see those threads woven throughout the story. I thought it was cool to see how the Vanquishers are essentially this world's version of superheroes, and just in general how the world looks different with the knowledge that there are (or were) things that go bump in the night. 

Another highlight of the book is the characters. Boog and her friends captured my attention from the start of the story, and I found myself invested in the action quickly. I’m quite impressed with how well the author captured the pre-teen spirit, which can be quite hard nowadays (many characters are either too immature or too adult-like to appeal to a middle-grade audience). The adults were entertaining too, and I appreciated the full circle moment that happened at the end of the book. I also want to note how diverse the cast of characters is - most are BIPOC, and some of the characters are queer. It’s encouraging to see how casually inclusive the book is - the fact that Cedric has two dads or that Jules uses gender-non-specific pronouns are just everyday parts of life for Boog and the others.

Overall, this was a great book and I’m excited to read the future installments of the series. Ecstasia Sanders did an excellent job bringing Boog’s story to life with her performance in the audiobook narration. If you like humorous and spooky adventure reads with a lot of heart, The Vanquishers would be a great choice for your next read.

About the Book
In the world of the Vanquishers, vampires were history . . . until now.

Malika “Boog” Wilson and her best friends have grown up idolizing The Vanquishers, a group of heroic vampire hunters who wiped out the last horde of the undead decades ago. Nowadays, most people don't take even the most basic vampire precautions--the days of garlic wreaths and early curfews long gone--but Boog's parents still follow the old rules, much to her embarrassment.

When a friend goes missing, Boog isn't sure what to think. Could it be the school counselor, Mr. Rupert, who definitely seems to be hiding something? Or could it be something more dangerous? Boog is determined to save her friend, but is she ready to admit vampires might not be vanquished after all?

No one ever expected the Vanquishers to return, but if their town needs protection from the undead, Boog knows who to call.

Inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Watchmen, this adventure launches readers into an exciting new series.

About the Author

Kalynn Bayron is the bestselling author of the award-winning YA fantasy CINDERELLA IS DEAD. She is a classically trained vocalist and when she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.

Instagram: @KalynnBayron

Twitter: @KalynnBayron

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