The Society of S by Susan Hubbard
Simon & Schuster, 2007
"My mother disappeared after my birth and had not been seen by us since." Haunting words from a thirteen year-old girl who will soon come to a very transforming time in her life. Mariella Montero lives with her father Raphael in a large Victorian house in Saratoga Springs, NY. The morning hours are spent alone or with the housekeeper, the sweet natured Ms McGarritt. The afternoons are devoted to lessons taught by Raphael that entail wide ranging subjects of literature (Poe is a favorite), mathematics, physics, philosophy. Ari, as her father calls her, receives strong intellectual stimulation from her scholar/ scientist father. Most mornings he spends with his assistants in a basement laboratory. Nothing terribly sinister going on here, but it is mysterious. Ari knows instinctively not to invade that space.
After so many years of deep curiosity Ari finally finds out some answers about her mother and the nature of her father. Ari is aware that she is the daughter of a vampire father and a mortal mother. Such a disturbing revelation raises other questions many of which her father cannot answer. What caused her mother's disappearance? Will Ari be human or vampire? In this regard Raphael believes she is more like him than her mother, but it is not yet clear. At some future time Ari herself must choose. And while trying to absorb this new found knowledge Ari suffers the loss of her only friend. Kathleen, the daughter of Mrs McGarritt, is murdered. There is severe blood loss and mutilation. The police and FBI investigate thoroughly but identify no suspects. Ari cannot help wondering if her father or either of his assistants might be involved. The thought horrifies her. Still it persists.
Eventually she decides she must leave Raphael's house to find out things for herself. Her first task is to find out what happened to her mother. Ari sets out alone and without telling anyone.
This is a brilliant novel, so poetically written. I hung on every word.
In May, 2008 a sequel, The Year of Disappearances, was published. I haven't read it yet, but I will.