Review: Glass Houses & Dead Girls’ Dance (Morganville Vampires 1 & 2)


Instead of splitting things up, I am reviewing the first two Morganville Vampires novels together. This isn’t just for simplicity’s sake (though, that’s nice, too). Looking at the first book alone might do a disservice to a promising series. Glass Houses isn’t bad at all, but the majority of the book is world building. Whereas, with Dead Girls’ Dance we get really see these characters move forward and interact within this unique town.

Glass Houses
Dead Girls’ Dance

Rachel Caine

Published: 2006 & 2007
Purchase the volume with both books at: The Book Depository

When Claire Danvers moves to the tiny Texas town of Morganville, she thinks it’s like any middle-of-nowhere college town. As the 16-year-old — wait, “almost seventeen” — advanced placement student tries to adjust to college a few years early, we discover just how unusual things are in Morganville. She moves into the dorm only to be tortured by the mean girls, I mean this literally. Our popular girl squad in Glass Houses and Dead Girls’ Dance is horrific and far worse than the girls in Heathers or Mean Girls. Their threats of more cruelty push her from the dorms to the refuge of Glass House.

Glass House is a creepy old mansion with three 18-year-olds living within. Michael, Shane and Eve become Claire’s surrogate family in Morganville. (Not that stops her from noticing the gorgeous nature of the two guys.) Away from campus, and with friends who grew up in the small town, Claire learns the real reason for the weird vibe in Morganville: it’s run by the vampires. Some families and homes have protection, an allegiance with a vampire, others just need to avoid them at all costs.

Claire isn’t supposed to know about the vampires, but a kid as smart as she can’t help but research. The vampires seek her out with threats and promises.

While Rachel Caine throws a few twists in Glass Houses, the book really is about defining the characters, understanding the tone of Morganville and letting readers understand Claire’s mindset. She’s too young and stubborn to avoid the obvious problems (messing with vampire politics is dangerous) but smart enough to dig herself out of tough situations.

It’s when we reach Dead Girls’ Dance, named for a party at the EEK fraternity (I thought that was cute), that the plot really moves. We see relationship sparks fly within Glass House, find several others humans putting Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael in line for the wrath of key vampires. (Saying who would ruin an excellent twist.)

In the second novel we finally understand why Claire can’t just pick up and leave this totally messed up place. Something, honestly, you’ll ask yourself a few times.

The books were light, quick reads. Despite the dark events, which include kidnapping, attempted murder, threats of murder, etc., the openers to the Morganville Vampires series are fun reads. I flew through the collective 500 pages in two nights.

Rachel Caine has created characters we can root for and a broad world in which the opportunities for plot points are vast. Book 3, Midnight Alley, is already on my to-read list for July.

Rachel Caine is kind enough to include chapter previews of both these books on her website. Follow these links to get a feel for Glass Houses and Dead Girls’ Dance.

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