The Van Helsing name reborn
Fourteen-year-old Alex has no idea that he's descended from the world's most famous vampire hunter, but that changes fast when he arrives at Glenarvon Academy and confronts two vampires in his first three days. Turns out Glenarvon isn't the only school near Lake Geneva. Hidden deep underground lies an ancient university for vampires called the Scholomance. And the deadly vampire clan lord known as Icemaker? You might say he's a visiting professor.
When two of Alex's friends are kidnapped by Icemaker, it's up to Alex to infiltrate the Scholomance and get them back—alive. Assisted by the Polidorium, a top-secret vampire-hunting organization with buried ties to the Van Helsings, Alex dodges zombies, bullets, and lots—and lots—of fangs on his way to thwarting Icemaker's plans and fulfilling his family destiny.
Launching the Alex Van Helsing series, Henderson's debut is a pedestrian mashup of common contemporary genres: action hero meets vampires in an elite boarding school setting. Unlike Hogwarts, Alex's new school, Glenarvon Academy, is populated primarily with mundane (if wealthy) students; Alex, however, is far from ordinary, being descended from a family of vampire hunters, though his family's past has been kept secret from him. But Glenarvon isn't the only premier academy on Lake Geneva: its neighbors include the Scholomance, an equally elite educational facility for vampires. Early and violent encounters with vampires (which Alex has a preternatural ability both to detect and dispatch of) allay his initial skepticism about the supernatural, and soon he's gearing up to face Icebreaker, a powerful and very famous vampire. Henderson's prose is serviceable, but the dialogue in particular tends to be corny and trite (" Joining the family business, are we?' Icemaker snarled"). The plot, while action-heavy, is predictable, with plenty left unanswered for future books, making this an accessible but uninspired choice for reluctant readers. Ages 12 up.