The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos

Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

16-year-old Julia Parker knows what it’s like to have super powers; she has the ability to read others’ minds. It comes as no surprise to her that creatures such as vampires and half-vampires walk among us. After nearly being killed by a vampire, Julia becomes obsessively interested in her rescuer, Nicholas. He blows her off, however, leaving her feelings hurt. When new student Phil buys her lunch one day, her romantic feelings shift to him. However, it’s complicated because Phil has a long distance girlfriend.

When Julia finds Phil’s maimed body on the brink of death at a bonfire, she quickly rushes him to the ER. Instead of being grateful to her for saving his life, Phil snaps and isn’t quite himself anymore. He escapes the ER, and the next time she sees him he has transformed into a vampire. Nicholas returns to defend Julia, and she learns the reasons why he had avoided her and the truth about his nature. Phil is determined to make Julia just like him, and it is up to Nicholas to save her humanity.

I was really surprised to see how favorably The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos has been received by the blogging community as well as Amazon.com and Goodreads reviewers. Unfortunately, I was nowhere near as impressed with Ms. Pandos’ writing style or her storytelling as everyone else has been so far. The Emerald Talisman is pretty similar to a lot of other vampire YA fiction currently available, and so it didn’t really stand out to me. I was hoping for some fresh, creative twist on vampires, but there was none of that in this book. Even the origins of vampires in The Emerald Talisman is something that I have encountered before; Cain, the murderous brother of Abel, became the first vampire as a punishment from God. He created others like him, and the blood lines branched out, each with their own gifts and strengths. The Cain story sounds very similar to a video game my husband has, and the blood lines remind me of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series.

I’d be less harsh on the the lack of originality in The Emerald Talisman if it weren’t for the writing and the apparent absence of any kind of professional editing. Though Ms. Pandos gives glowing praise to an editor-type in her Acknowledgements page, it is entirely undeserved. Throughout the book there is an abundance of awkward sentences; misused punctuation for plurals and possessives; quotations, periods, and commas missing from where they should be; and brand name products such as Tae Bo, as one example, improperly written (in The Emerald Talisman, it’s written as one word when it should be two). While most people probably wouldn’t notice the difference between “Tae Bo” and “Taebo”, that doesn’t at all mean that words like this shouldn’t be checked. The editor did a huge disservice to Ms. Pandos, and has made her look slightly foolish. I hope that with the forthcoming books in this series she has wised up and found someone else to correct her mistakes.