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Publisher's Summary

My new university is a renovated medieval monastery in Slovakia called Dux Ducis' (leader of leaders in Latin). The university is run by professors from all over the world. Monks abandoned it many years ago, not exactly the place an eighteen-year-old girl wants to be, except I don't have a choice.

I am Sweden's Crown Princess Paola Katarina. The monastery houses male and female royalty.

My best friends are Crown Princess Sofia Eleonora from Finland and Crown Prince Oskar Niklas from Norway.

Monks' former cells were rebuilt into large dormitories that accommodate two students of the same gender. The boys' dorms are on the left side, the girls' on the right. A central garden divides us.

The dining room is by the main entrance, the kitchen and laundry rooms are on the right side. The classrooms are in the back of the monastery. Because students have different religions, the last room on the left, which was double the size of the others, was used by the students who wanted to pray or meditate. Half of the room had perfectly carved wooden benches, the other half was empty, and three beautiful chandeliers illuminated medieval castles paintings.

My father, King Rikard, and Sofia's father, King Alpertti, arranged for us to have the same dorm. Oskar is also attending our university, and that's perfect. We are the same age and have known each other since we were little.

I have been engaged to Crown Prince Dominick Sander from Denmark since I was six years old. He will be one more royal in the monastery.

©2014 Vianka Van Bokkem (P)2014 Vianka Van Bokkem

What listeners say about Dux Ducis Vampires ( Vampires and Werewolves)

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Loved it

Great book, kept my attention all the way to the end, amazing audio delivery, loved it.

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  • K.
  • 06-11-20

Fast, Maybe Fun Vampire Story for YA/PNR Fans

I’ve given this audiobook five stars in all categories because I genuinely enjoyed it and did not find anything in it troubling enough to warrant a reduction in stars. This audiobook strikes me as niche, though, to the point that many will likely react less positively to it.

For me, the strange vibe of this audiobook starts with its structure. The story is technically complete in that it does introduce a cast of characters, develop key events in those characters’ lives, and then resolve the central events well enough to arrive at a tangible ending. The oddity is in the pacing of this process. The author seems to be trying to cram a novel’s worth of ideas into a short story. It is difficult to discuss such a short work without spoilers, so I will just say that the main points are the protagonist’s love life and the fate of a group of vampires. Instead of focusing on a specific period of the protagonist’s relationship or aspect of the vampires’ existence, as might have made more sense for this form, the author attempts to chart the entire course of these complex subjects in under thirty-six minutes (the first and last “chapters” of the audiobook are credits, not story content). This means that there is no time for buildup. Everything that happens in the story seems to do so with startling, sometimes comical speed. Such an abrupt style, at least in my opinion, does not allow sufficient time for the audience to absorb situations or get invested in characters as the author presents them. A number of extreme things happen in the story, but the reaction those events produce, again at least for me, is always “wait, what?!” rather than any real feeling for the characters involved.

The content of the story adds to the strange vibe I get from its structure. Young European royals enjoy their privileged but intrigue-ridden existence in an elite university on the grounds of a former monastery in Slovakia. Meanwhile, vampires stalk the country, threatening the rich and the ordinary alike as they breach the university’s defenses and slaughter innocent townsfolk. This setup lends the story the atmosphere of a Gothic novel. Only scattered mentions of modern conveniences establish that the setting is not sometime in the past. For me, it is not this vague, modern-world-meets-ancient-lore sensibility that detracts from the story, but rather the author’s seemingly random, marked departures from that style. She goes into detail about some seemingly minor points while never fully acknowledging other details that would seem more important to the plot. For example, the audience gets only tidbits about how the vampires of this world work. If this approach were consistent, it would come across as a deliberate decision to cultivate an air of mystery that allows audiences to draw their own conclusions about the details left unsaid. When the author describes the university students’ uniforms in detail at the start of her story, though, I cannot help but wonder why she later declines to address seemingly more significant details, such as how it is that these vampires seem to be able to go out during the day and pass for human with no trouble. In my opinion, this uneven distribution of detail elicits a sense of confusion that heightens the “wait,what?!” effect from the story’s structure.

Shelley Avellino’s stellar performance is the highlight of this audiobook. Avellino manages to make sense of the narrative eccentricities I’ve noted. She delivers the material in a consistent, earnest, lighthearted tone that, at least in my opinion, really works. The story unfolds entirely in first person from the view of “Sweden’s Crown Princess Paola Katarina.” Avellino lends liveliness and credibility to this character and, by extension, her story. I do not know if this was the author’s intention, but in Avellino’s voice, it is possible to imagine that this audiobook is the princess recounting remarkable events in her life story. In this context, the quirks in the narrative become more understandable. Someone telling a story like this, perhaps to a small familiar audience, would be likely to jump right from major event to event in their account, throwing in details unevenly as they happen to remember them. In print, the strange characteristics I’ve noted might be off-putting, but in Avellino’s voice, they become, again at least for me, an entertaining part of an overall pleasant experience. Avellino’s performance keeps the “wait, what?!” reactions I mention from being cries of frustration. Instead, they are positive, the kind of “wait, what?!” thought that one follows with “this is bonkers and I want to hear more.” I’m not sure if Avellino’s accent here is accurate for a Swedish princess, but to my American ear, the accent she does have is so pleasant that its accuracy or lack thereof does not matter or distract from the performance at all. The consistently light tone might still seem odd given the dark nature of some events in the story, but if one returns to the idea of the princess telling her story, one can perhaps imagine that this cavalier attitude is a believable byproduct of the character’s youth.

I think the ideal audience for this audiobook would be fans of young adult fiction and paranormal romance looking for a quick, light story that includes aspects of these genres. I would not recommend this title to someone looking for a traditional horror story because I do not think that the potentially “horrific” elements of the story (psychological horror, monsters, violence) are developed enough to satisfy someone primarily looking for those qualities. Because of the oddities in this story that I have mentioned, I also would not recommend it to someone looking for a traditional story in general. Personally, I enjoy this audiobook because it does touch on subjects I enjoy (vampires, Gothic novel atmosphere, young adult fiction), and its eccentricities do not bother me. It works for the times when I just want a short, silly, purely entertaining audiobook.

I received a free copy of this audiobook at my request. I have voluntarily left this honest review.