{Review/Excerpt/Giveaway} SERWA BOATENG'S GUIDE TO VAMPIRE HUNTING by Roseanne A. Brown


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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

 TAKE IT FROM ME: A mom lecture is 1,000 percent more terrifying when she’s holding an ax. “Again, this is a one-time thing,” says Mom as she dangles the throwing ax in front of my face. The weapon is nearly as long as my arm, with three razor sharp points designed to inflict some serious damage when thrown correctly. “One. Time. As in, never happening again, ever.”
   I nod along, too focused on the ax’s curved blades to really hear her. I still can’t believe she’s letting me train with it. I’ve had my eye on this baby ever since we picked it up during a raid on some adze down in Memphis a few months ago, but every time I asked my parents if I could even touch it, all I got was a no or a no but with hysterical laughter in response.
   But it’s my birthday this week, and it’s a family tradition that the birthday person can have whatever they want for seven days straight. (Within reason. Dad’s still bitter that his request for all of us to binge The Crown last year got shot down.) That’s why for the first—and probably last— time in my admittedly short life, my request to use the ax was actually accepted, and now here we are.

Read the entire first chapter in the excerpt below!

(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

“When you've been alive as long as I have, you encounter all sorts of people — good people, bad people, mostly somewhere-in-between people — but in all that time, I've never met anyone like you, Serwa. That alone makes it worth seeing what you're capable of.


I didn't know too much going into SERWA BOATENG'S GUIDE TO VAMPIRE HUNTING other than it was the latest new series in the Rick Riordan Presents Line and the author had written the amazing YA duology A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN. And something to do with vampires? Only, not what you might traditionally think of as a vampire. These are the Adze, and rather than being able to transform into bats, they instead shapeshift as fireflies. 

In the Author's Note at the book's conclusion, Brown talks about growing up in Ghana and the "more than one hundred tribes" and the various beliefs and histories and customs spread throughout the country. She herself is calling the novel more of a "remix" of folklore rather than a be-all-and-end all, integrating "the foklore and customs of the Akan ethnic group, of which the Ashanti and the Kwahu (my mom's tribe!) are both a part, among many others...the adze is a creature from Ewe folklore (my maternal grandmother's tribe), and even the Adinkra themselves were created by the Bono people of a region now split between Ivory Coast and Ghana before the symbols were adopted by other groups."

The novel kicks off with a look at Serwa Boateng's life. She is homeschooled and training to becoming a Abomofuo, the Twi word for Hunters, and become a Slayer. Her parents are two of the most powerful Abomofuo in history, and she's hoping to surpass them both. However, she's not yet allowed to take the test that would finally let her step into the roll for good. When the Adze, fireflies who can shapeshift into vampires, attack the family's safe house, her parents are blessed by the gods and go on a quest while Serwa is dropped off with a family friend in a town that is safe and has never had a magical disturbance...

...until now. Serwa discovers that there is an Adze here as well, and now that she's cut off from all communication with her family or other Abomofuo, must put together her own motley crew, train them, and defeat the evil before the destroys the town. Along the way, she uncovers dangerous secrets that will change her life forever...

As with many books in the RRP lineup, SERWA BOATENG'S GUIDE TO VAMPIRE HUNTING feels like it could be in the same world and time. There is even a brief reference to the Tristan Strong series! There are quests bestowed by the gods, blessings when they succeed, and unlikely otherwise ordinary places where magic is strongest -- in this case, diners such as IHOP. And of course, what is a RRP title without falling in with a motley crew of soon-to-be friends that may have never otherwise given one another the time of day? Each of the kids has history and a story of their own, and while some get more backstory than others, later books will hopefully flesh everyone out further.

There is also a focus on the town and how it was built over the sight of a deadly plantation uprising, where the enslaved rose up against their colonizers and won. The school largely overlooks this horror and doesn't even teach it in school. Many of the teachers are racist and penalize only students of color, forcing five of them to be the Good Citizens Committee and clean up trash, better the school, etc. The only good thing to come of it is that the group begins working together to save the town and ultimately becomes friends along the way. The book also gives an unflinching look at  how families are torn apart when a member is deported and also gets into the foster care system a bit. Many kids have never been taught these things and will be able to learn a little history through the series that is often tucked under the rug -- or see their own history on the pages like never before. It deepens the story, raises the stakes, and even contributes to some spoilery things I won't mention here.

If you or someone you know is a fan of the Rick Riordan Presents Line, you won't be disappointed with this latest series to the imprint. I am already excited for the sequel myself! 



Excerpt from 
by Roseanne A. Brown


How to Be Attacked by a Vampire

“A Slayer must be combat-ready at all hours of the day,  even when within the range of protective wards. The  forces of black magic never falter. Neither do we.” —From the Nwoma, a collection of Abomofuo teaching and histories passed through the generations 

TAKE IT FROM ME: A mom lecture is 1,000 percent  more terrifying when she’s holding an ax.  “Again, this is a one-time thing,” says Mom as  she dangles the throwing ax in front of my face. The  weapon is nearly as long as my arm, with three razor sharp points designed to inflict some serious damage  when thrown correctly. “One. Time. As in, never happening again, ever.” 

I nod along, too focused on the ax’s curved blades  to really hear her. I still can’t believe she’s letting me  train with it. I’ve had my eye on this baby ever since  we picked it up during a raid on some adze down in  Memphis a few months ago, but every time I asked my  parents if I could even touch it, all I got was a no or a no  but with hysterical laughter in response. 

But it’s my birthday this week, and it’s a family tradition that the birthday person can have whatever they  want for seven days straight. (Within reason. Dad’s still bitter that his request for all of us to binge The Crown last year  got shot down.) That’s why for the first—and probably last— time in my admittedly short life, my request to use the ax was  actually accepted, and now here we are.  

Mom continues, “If I ever see you near this without me or  your father present, I will suspend your training indefinitely  and confiscate your crossbows—all your crossbows. Do you hear  me, Serwa?”  

“Yes, ma’am!” I say, giving her a mock salute. I reach for the  ax, but Mom suddenly swings it over her shoulder, not even  flinching as one of the sharpened points comes dangerously  close to leaving her earless and hacking off several inches of her  shoulder-length twist bob.  

“Actually, the ax is too dangerous.” A line forms between her  eyebrows, and I fight back a groan. I know that face. That’s her  Will doing this make me the worst parent of the century? expression.  

“Maybe we should start you off with something safer. Like a  throwing knife. Or a mace.”  

“Mom, you promised!” I cry. My parents will have these random moments of overprotectiveness, as if our family’s lifestyle  wasn’t dangerous with a capital D generations before any of  us came along. Why did they spend all this time training me  if they’re going to act like I can’t handle myself when it really  counts? 

A loud chuckle cuts into our argument. Dad is knee-deep in  his flower garden, his comically large sun hat pulled low over  his brow. Bright pink begonia petals litter his dark brown skin  as he digs up the tubers so he can store them before autumn  starts. “Just let her take one swing, Delilah, or we’re never  going to hear the end of it.”  

I give Dad a mental high five as Mom narrows her eyes at him. 

The water of the lake laps gently near our feet, and I imagine  how hilarious this whole situation would look to an outsider— a grown man and woman debating over letting their daughter handle a magically enhanced weapon while they all stand  beside a lake so blue it looks ripped from a postcard. 

The line in Mom’s brow deepens. “Akwadaa boni,” she mutters with a kiss of her teeth. That means troublemaker in Twi, our  native language. We mostly speak English around each other  ever since we moved from Ghana when I was five, but she’ll slip  into Twi whenever she feels any strong emotion, good or bad.  

Just when I’m sure Mom is going to say no again, she tosses  the ax to me, handle first. I grab it at the last second. Carved  into the side of the blade is a square filled with crisscrossing  lines almost like a checkerboard—nkyimu, the Adinkra of precision. The magic imbued in the symbol hums through the  weapon, making it steadier and more likely to hit its target.  

“Keep both hands on the handle and the top point straight,”  says Mom, and I readjust accordingly. “Nkyimu will help you hit  your target, but not if you aren’t actually facing it. Adze move  fast, so you always have to calculate your throw for where it’s  going to be, not where it is.” 

As Mom kicks my feet apart to fix my stance, I close my eyes  and imagine an adze—first as a firefly, floating through the air  like any other harmless bug, then as a hulking, insect-like monster with razor-sharp wings and blood dripping down its fangs.  The vampire in my mind screams at me, and I mentally lop  its head off with one swing, feeling a lot like Thor must have  when he showed up in Wakanda to save all the other Avengers’  butts. Oh yeah, this is definitely an upgrade from my janky old  training ax. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Dad shaking his head.

“Girls and their weapons,” he chuckles as he pulls out another  begonia tuber and places it gently in a little bag. I stick out  my tongue at him, and he sticks his out at me. My dad’s been  involved with the Abomofuo, the organization that hunts adze  and other creatures of black magic, even longer than my mom.  But though he knows his way around a battlefield, he’s not a  big fan of combat. He often jokes that if he had his way, he’d  trade all his swords for knitting needles. Whenever he says that,  Mom pretends to barf. 

It’s been so long since the three of us hung out at home like  this. Only last night we got back from a three-month mission  in Georgia, tracking down an adze that had sucked the blood  out of the entire city government of Savannah and turned the  mayor into a zoned-out husk. The whole time we were there,  we stayed in this motel off Interstate 16 and survived almost  entirely on Chinese takeout and Dunkin’ Donuts.  

I love a good hunt, I really do. There’s nothing better than  weeks of planning coming together as you rush into battle to  free someone from the vampire that’s taken over their minds.  But being on the road all the time can get tough. We move safe  houses every year or so, but this little blue one on the lake is  my favorite yet. I’ve missed sleeping in my own bed and using  my own bathroom. I’ve even missed that one floorboard on the  stairs that cracks like a firework when you step on it. The only  house I love more than this one is my grandma’s compound  back in Kumasi, where we lived until I was five. But we haven’t  been back to Ghana in years, and we probably won’t be seeing  it anytime soon.  

Mom twists my shoulders so I’m facing away from Dad and  toward the lake. Even without the ax, she’s still armed to the  teeth with daggers at each wrist, stakes in a utility belt across her chest, and her trusty akrafena, Nokware—truth in Twi—in  its bead-bracelet form on her wrist. My mother wears her sword  more often than most people do underwear. With Nokware at  her side, Mom’s become one of—no, the best adze slayer in  the world.  

Which means if I’m ever going to be the best adze slayer of all  time, I should start by being at least as good as her. “Hey, Mom, heads up!” That’s all the warning I give before  I launch at her, ax swinging. Dad yells in surprise, but Mom  doesn’t even flinch. She whips out one of her daggers from  its wrist sheath faster than I can see, and our weapons crash  together with a clang that ripples across the lake.  “Is that all you’ve got?” she taunts as she dances out of range  of my weapon, black twists trailing behind her. “You’re going to  need more than that if you’re coming for the best.” I grunt and  pull back, pivoting on my left foot to put more power into my  next swing. But Mom counters with a swipe to my right, followed by an elbow thrust to my gut, sending us both tumbling  back into the garden.  

Dad jumps to his feet with a shriek as we roll by. “My  begonias!” 

“Sorry!” Mom and I both call out, but the destruction of Dad’s  flower garden isn’t enough to get us to stop. Mom taught me  everything I know about fighting, from the best way to dive  into a roll to how to get adze gunk out of your armor. I’m good,  but she’s better, and before long it starts to show. She matches  me blow for blow, at one point switching her dagger to her left  hand as if to prove that even fighting with a disadvantage she’s  still better than me.  

Sweat is pouring into my eyes and I’m panting like a dog,  while she has this huge smile on her face like she could take on ten more of me before getting tired. Sometimes I swear my  mom is some kind of demon, because that’s the only way she  can fight as well as she does.  

Mom ducks down, and I see an opening for me to dive for  her neck, pin her down, and end this. But as soon as I commit to  the maneuver, she feints behind me. In less than a heartbeat she  knocks me off-balance and wrenches the ax from my grip. She  tosses the weapon to the side, then begins to tickle me mercilessly.  “Surrender!” she demands.  

“Never!” At that, she tickles me harder, and there are actual  tears in my eyes now, but the good kind. Finally, it becomes too  much and I yell, “Okay, okay! I give up!”  

Mom lets me go and we both collapse onto our backs. My  chest is heaving, Mom is cracking up, and Dad is shaking his  head at both of us, but the huge grin on his face makes it clear  he’s not mad.  

As far as birthday weeks go, this has been a pretty great one.  Now that the Savannah hunt is done and our mmoatia have  sent the official debrief to the Compound, we have nothing on  our roster for at least the next several weeks. Today’s lunch is  jollof rice with a huge serving of powdered bofrot and ice cream  on the side, and in two days, for my actual birthday, we’re going  to go camping up in the Adirondacks. Thanks to the protective  Adinkra wards my dad draws, the safe house is completely safe guarded from adze.  

Soon enough, the Okomfo who run the Abomofuo will send  us another mission. Slayers don’t get any say in where they’re  assigned—if the priests tell you that you’re needed in Budapest,  then you’d better practice your Hungarian, because you’re going  to Budapest. That’s part of the Okomfo’s job—keeping their  old, wrinkly thumbs on the pulse of supernatural happenings all over the globe. Eventually, they’ll dispatch us to whatever  corner of the country needs our vampire-slaying expertise, but  until then, we’re free to do whatever we want.  

After she finally finishes laughing at my expense, Mom  rolls onto her side, facing me, and props her head on her fist.  Everyone says we look alike, but I honestly don’t see it. She’s  got these high cheekbones and one of those smiles that always  make her seem like she knows something you don’t, but when ever I try to replicate it, I just look like a serial killer. We do have  the same skin tone, though—dark cherry brown—and the same  kinky, coily curls, though right now mine are in box braids I  usually wear in a high ponytail.  

“You’ve got a couple more days left in Birthday Week,” says  Mom. “Do you want anything else besides the camping trip?”  My eyes fall to the blue-black lines of the tattoo peeking over  the top of her shirt near her collarbone.  

What I truly want—what I’ve wanted as long as I’ve been  old enough to want things—is that tattoo. Or more specifically, what that tattoo represents: status as a full member of the  Abomofuo.  

The tattoo itself is abode santann, the All-Seeing Eye Adinkra.  It’s one of the most powerful Adinkra of all, as it’s the one that  represents the Abomofuo. Our organization has gone by many  names over the years, but Abomofuo—hunters in Twi—is the truest  one. The abode santann marks you as someone who has dedicated their life to protecting people from the adze and other creatures of black magic. Dad has the same exact tattoo in the same  exact spot, though I can’t see it now beneath his gardening gear.  

Once I have my own abode santann, I’ll no longer be  just Serwa Boateng, daughter of the two strongest prodigies  the Abomofuo have seen in generations. I’ll be Serwa the Slayer, someone who has her own story outside of her parents.  But my mom can’t simply give me the tattoo. No one can. I  have to earn it, and the only way to do that is to pass the Initiation Test. 

We’ve had this conversation so many times I already know  what Mom is going to say before she says it, but that doesn’t  stop me from blurting out, “Instead of the camping trip, what  I’d really love is to take the test this year.” 

Mom’s smile flattens into a thin line, just like I predicted it  would. “We’ve already discussed this, Serwa.”  

She says discussed when the reality is that she and Dad made  a decision, and I have no choice but to go along with it. Potential Slayers can take the Initiation Test at any age, though any one under eighteen needs their guardian’s permission. But you  can only take the test once—if you fail, that’s it. No retakes  or second chances. Your dreams of being a full-time vampire  hunter? Poof, gone, bye-bye forever.  

But I wouldn’t fail. I know it.  

“Dad took the test when he was younger than I am!” I don’t  say what we both already know, which is that my father was  also the youngest person ever to pass the initiation, when he  was only nine years old. As if I didn’t have enough pressure  already. “And you’re always saying I’m just as good as he was  when he was my age. Unless you’re lying about that.”  

“I’m not. You’ve taken to training better than we ever could  have hoped. But this isn’t about your skills.” 

“Then what is it about?” What do I have to do to prove myself to  you? is what I want to say, but I’ve already pushed enough as it  is without throwing whining into it.  

“It’s about . . .” I wait for her to continue, but Mom trails off  with a strange look on her face. She gets like this sometimes. 

One second she’ll be here, the next she’ll be staring into the distance at something only she can see. She usually acts this way  when I ask about her childhood, which, from the little I know,  wasn’t great. I try not to bring it up too often, because it clearly  pains her. But we’re not talking about her life right now. We’re  talking about mine.  

“I believe what your mother is trying to say is that we’d feel  more comfortable if you took the test after you turned eighteen.” Dad’s come over now, probably having sensed that the  fake tension from our sparring match has shifted into the real  deal. He squeezes my shoulder but sits beside Mom, making it  clear that this is a two-on-one conversation, and I am not in the  majority. “You have the whole rest of your life to be a Slayer  and only a handful more to be a regular kid. We don’t want you  to look back one day and regret rushing through this period.”  

But I’ve never been a regular kid, and I don’t want to be one.  Sure, our way of life isn’t always easy, but I don’t know what I’d  do without my training or magic. I am a Slayer, like my parents  before me, and their parents before them. All I need is to pass  the Initiation Test so I can prove it to everyone else, too.  

“Let me take the test, and I’ll never ask for anything ever  again,” I beg. So much for my “no whining” plan.  “The answer is no, Serwa.” Mom is back from whatever corner of her mind she wandered into. “You can take the test once  you’re an adult, and not a moment before.”  

It’s clear from the hard edge in her voice that I’ve pushed up  to the limit of her patience. I say nothing else, just nod with my  own mouth in a tight line to keep myself from blurting something  I will most definitely regret. Mom and I stare at each other, and  a hot and syrupy feeling swirls through my stomach. I scratch  behind my ear, and the sensation immediately goes away. 

Mom breaks our staring contest first, closing her eyes with  a sigh. “You can’t take the test. But surely there must be some thing else you’d like for your birthday?”  

Not to further annihilate a dead horse, or however that saying goes, but there really is nothing else I want. I mean, yeah,  a phone might be nice, although what do I need one for when  the only two people I talk to regularly are with me basically  twenty-four seven? And maybe for the briefest moment yesterday, when I blew out the candles on my third birthday cake  of the week, I wished I had someone my own age to share it  with. . . . But those are small desires in the grand scheme of  things. If your biggest complaint in life is that you’ve never had  a party at Chuck E. Cheese, things are going pretty great for you.  

I shake my head, and suddenly Mom’s face gets so sad it  makes me forget my own disappointment for a second. I reach  up to hug her, but she jumps to her feet before I can and plasters on a smile. “Come on, go inside and wash up before lunch.  I know you didn’t think you can walk into my house covered in  all that outside mess.” 

She offers me a hand, and I’m seriously considering another  sneak attack on her when something catches my eye. It’s the  smallest movement—not a flash of light, but a steady yellow  pulse, like a glowing heartbeat. It’s so subtle that most people  would have missed it, but I’ve been trained to spot things most  people would miss.  

It’s a firefly. Fear freezes me in place.  

“Mom, behind you,” I whisper as loudly as I dare.  She scoffs. “You can’t really think I’d fall for—” 

“Look out!” 

My warning doesn’t come fast enough, because before the  words are out of my mouth, the firefly screams. 

Excerpt from SERWA BOATENG'S GUIDE TO VAMPIRE HUNTING / Text copyright © 2022 by Roseanne A. Brown

Reproduced by permission from Rick Riordan Presents // Disney. 

All rights reserved.



Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: --
Language: --
Violence: G t ( Some battle scenes that might be scary. One battle in a memory has blood spilled. )
Other:  G to PG ( Talk about diaspora and enslavement. Characters deal with racisim and being singled out when their white classmates don't get in trouble for the same mischief. A father is deported and dealing with immigration. A character is in foster care and was injured in his youth. The main character is left with friends while her parents leave her for a quest under the guise of work and shut off all communicaion.)
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is ACTION PACKED!!!! It is in motion and full of battle and intrigue. Terrifying monsters, fierce kid warriors, what more could you want? Kids will immediately graviate towards the scene on the cover and devour this one!

As always with the RRP line, I love seeing these illustrated covers pulled straight from the books and love seeing the characters front and center -- especially the RRP line, where kids can see characters who look like themselves on the cover before even cracking open the pages!

O F F I C I A    I N F O:

Author: Roseanne A. Brown
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2022
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents // Disney Books
FIND IT:  GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents best-selling YA author Roseanne A. Brown's middle grade debut about a pre-teen vampire slayer with a strong helping of Ghanaian folklore.

For most kids, catching fireflies is a fun summer activity. For twelve-year-old Serwa Boateng, it's a matter of life and death.

That's because Serwa knows that some fireflies are really adze, shapeshifting vampires from the forests of Southeastern Ghana. Adze prey on the blood of innocents, possessing their minds and turning them into hulking monsters, and for generations, slayers like Serwa and her parents have protected an unknowing public from their threats.

Serwa is the best adze slayer her age, and she knew how to use a crossbow before she could even ride a bike. But when an obayifo (witch) destroys her childhood home while searching for a drum, do Serwa's parents take her with them on their quest to defeat her? No. Instead, they dump Serwa with her hippie aunt and cryptic-obsessed cousin in the middle of Nowheresville, Maryland "for her own safety." Now, instead of crossbows and battle armor, she's dealing with mean girls and algebra, and for the first time in her life she doesn't have to carry a staff everywhere she goes, which is . . . kind of nice, actually.

Just as Serwa starts to get the hang of this whole normal girl who doesn't punch vampires every day thing, an adze infiltrates her school. It's up to her to whip some of her classmates into monster-fighting shape before all of them become firefly food. And when she uncovers a secret that upends everything she thought she knew about her family's role in the slayer vs. adze war, Serwa will have to decide which side of herself--normal girl or slayer--is the right one.

After all, seventh grade is hard enough without adding vampires to the mix.



Roseanne “Rosie” A. Brown was born in Kumasi, Ghana and immigrated to the wild jungles of central Maryland as a child. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and was also a teaching assistant for the school’s JimĂ©nez-Porter Writers’ House program. Her debut novel A Song of Wraiths and Ruin was an instant New York Times Bestseller, an Indie Bestseller, and received six starred reviews. She has worked with Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney among other publishers.


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