Sixteen year old Ellen is ill. Very ill. Fading away in fact and her family and the medical profession have no idea of the cause. She is sent to stay with her grandmother in London to be closer to the best medical help and an old childhood friend, Andy, is brought in to try and cheer her up.
Then Ellen discovers her great-grandmother's diaries from when she was Ellen's age, in the attic, and begins to read. Her great-grandmother, also called Ellen, lived with her father who was a famous blood doctor. A man had come to stay, Count Franz Szekelys, his family known to her father while in Europe, but a stranger to Ellen. She doesn't like him, or his female companion, but her father seems strangely in thrall to these people.
Meanwhile, Andy, is proving a welcome diversion for the modern Ellen and they share the exicitement about the diaries. But her condition is not improving - if anything it's worsening and things come to a head when Ellen is admitted to hospital...
I wondered, while reading this book, what it would have been like if it had been written for adults. I decided it would have a lot more meat on its bones and imagined something like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. As it is, it's a Young Adult book and none the worse for that and I'm sure teens will enjoy it, but for me it lacked a bit of depth.
I liked the idea of Ellen discovering the diaries and that part was the most interesting for me - probably because I find Victorian Britain more interesting to read about in vampire yarns than modern. As can be seen from the quote above, there was a wonderful disused graveyard opposite Ellen's grandmothers's house but hardly any use was made of it in the book, even though it was quite important to the plot. (Two wonderful 'graveyard' books to my mind are Falling Angels by Tracey Chevalier and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.)
This is not a vampire yarn the like of which fill our bookshops at the moment. I quite like some of those but this made a nice change and was, in places, genuinely scary. Character-wise, I didn't really connect with Ellen or Andy, although the villain of the peace was pretty disturbing. That said, there was enough about the book to keep me reading to the end.
Not bad, a quick easy read... maybe get it from the library or nab my copy if you're really interested as it's going spare and will go back to the charity shop otherwise.