If a plot is good you don't see it coming.

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American author Julie Kagawa.

PARANORMAL
The Eternity Cure
Julie Kagawa Harlequin teen, $17
REVIEW HELEN CROMPTON

If a plot is good you don't see it coming. Any sudden turn of events surprises you as much as it does the characters.

In the second instalment of her Blood of Eden trilogy, The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa again demonstrates her mastery of the ripping yarn she delivers with the effortless economy of a vampire out on a casual midnight stroll. And for adolescents, the need for speed in a supernatural love/blood fest is as essential as fresh gore for thirsty bloodsuckers.

So here's the deal: Allie Sekemoto is a free human fringe dweller in a future dystopian world run by vampires in cities where human slaves serve as mobile blood banks. She turns vampire thanks to a Master of the species, the uncharacteristically humane Kanin - her choice when faced with death by rabids who are basically a notch above zombies condemned to brainless nocturnal bloodlusting, thanks to a mutated virus.

Phew! Life's not easy in the future. The above is all in Kagawa's first book, The Immortal Rules.

Our heroine, who wields a pretty scary katana (Japanese sword), breaks numerous cardinal vampire laws, and one is she falls for a human, Zeke. Last she saw of him was when she helped him lead a small gang of his dwindling kind to Eden, the only place in the world that's left where a normal life would be possible for those who still boast a heartbeat.

In this instalment, she's experiencing the vampiric "blood calls to blood" as she discovers her sire Kanin is captive to a psycho vamp whose speciality is slow agonising death - not someone you'd invite home for tea.

Then there's another problem: a second mutation of the original virus that causes "bleeders" - humans who rip themselves to pieces in the grip of an insanity that also causes them to attack anything and everything, giggling as they do so. Then there's yet another problem: her vicious, double-dealing sociopathic blood brother Jackal whose raider kingdom she destroyed last time round, and who is therefore slightly miffed with her.

Best-seller is a term bandied around a lot, especially by those selling a product, but in Kagawa's case it is a true assessment and one that is earned.

If you're a sucker for vampire tales with more twists than a pit of snakes and more bite than a vindaloo, The Eternity Cure is quick to quench the yearning for a pulsating, plasma-filled plot, with a definite contemporary edge, plus ample humour. For younger fantasists, it doesn't get much better.