Tantalize (Tantalize series, Book 1)

Tantalize Cover
Candlewick Press (U.S.)

TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). Ages 14-up. Also published by Alfa Basim Yayim Dagitim (Turkey), Intervista (France), Walker Books (U.K.), and Walker Australia and New Zealand.

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Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her hybrid-werewolf first love threatens to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. And just as she and her uncle are about to debut Austin’s red hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef.

Can Quincie transform the new hire into a culinary dark lord before opening night? Will Henry Johnson be able to wow the crowd in fake fangs, a cheap cape, and red contact lenses? Or is there more to this earnest fresh face than meets the eye?

As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything?

TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a foremost author of dark fantasy.

Audio Edition Voice Actor: Kim Mai Guest (Listening Library, 2008:

Learn more about ETERNAL (Book 2)(Candlewick, 2009), BLESSED (Book 3)(Candlewick, 2011), DIABOLICAL (Book 4)(Candlewick, 2012) and the tie-in graphic novels TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, 2011) and ETERNAL: ZACHARY’S STORY, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, 2013). SEE ALSO the spin-off FERAL trilogy (Candlewick, 2013-2015).

Three of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s short stories—“Cat Calls,” “Cupid’s Beaux” and “Haunted Love”—are also set in the TANTALIZE-FERAL universe. “Cat Calls” and “Haunted Love” are available as free ebooks.

Order TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Depending on the title, Cynthia’s books may be found from Native bookstores like Birchbark Books and Native Arts and Red Planet Books and Comics, her local independent BookPeople in Austin, other terrific Texas bookstores like Blue Willow Bookshop and Brazos Bookstore, retail sites supporting indie bookstores like BookShop (Affiliate), IndieBound and (audio books), brick-and-mortar chains like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and online retailer (Author Central).

Awards and Honors

  • Top Ten Pick, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) list of 2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in the “What’s Cooking?” category (“tasty reads to fill your belly and warm your soul”)
  • New York Public Library Book for the Teenage
  • Borders Original Voices Nominee, March 2007
  • Featured Title, National Book Festival
  • 2007-2008 Texas Library Association Tayshas List
  • Texas Library Association Spirit of Texas Reading Program
  • 2015 We’re the People Summer Reading List
  • Chapters (Canada) Junior Advisory Board (JAB) Pick
  • Featured Title, Texas Book Festival
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults nominee
  • Featured Title, Kansas Book Festival
Walker Books (U.K.)

“Cynthia Leitich Smith is the Anne Rice for teen readers. Smith has a vivid imagination, her intricate plot keeps readers guessing until the very end.”  — The Bloomsbury Review

“Notions of predator and prey are deliciously explored in this gothic elixer, a dark romantic thriller that is equal parts Bon Appetite and Dracula.”  — The Horn Book Review (on Listening Libraries audio production)

“Tantalize is a thinking reader’s horror novel and an entertaining, empowering ride.”  — The International Reading Association’s Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy

“For those who enjoy the horror of the original Dracula or the heart-wrenching sorrow of Romeo and Juliet, Smith’s book will be a fresh, updated version of these timeless classics.”  — Kliatt

“An intoxicating romantic thriller… Quincie’s longing for a physical relationship with her boy-wolf is as palpable as the taste of the food… Smith adds a light touch of humor to the soup, but the main course is a dark romance with all the gory trimmings.”  — The Horn Book Magazine

“If Joan Bauer took a crack at dark fantasy, the result would probably be something like this gothic-horror comedy…the immersion in food culture–including an overhauled menu, as grisly as it is gourmet–successfully builds on the sensual aspects of vampire mythology.”   — Booklist

“Quincie must make a terrifying choice in a heart pounding climax that will have teen readers weeping with both lust and sorrow.”  Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will be rewarded with an impeccably paced suspense story, a sexy romance, and a tough and witty heroine.”  — The Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books

Cover Blurbs
From the TANTALIZE launch party

“Full of unexpected, delicious delights that kept me guessing and turning the pages, TANTALIZE creates a froth of excitement, danger, suspense, and wit. This original book tantalizes the sense indeed, as it explores the border between attraction and disgust, and make us question our perceptions. Who are you—predator or prey?” —Annette Curtis Klause, author of BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, THE SILVER KISS, and FREASKS: ALIVE ON THE INSIDE!

“Looking for something to read that will make your TV jealous? TANTALIZE has it all—hot vampires and wolf-boys, a super-cool heroine in cowboy boots, nail-biting suspense, romance, chills ‘n’ thrills, and Austin, Texas. What more could you want?” —Libba Bray, author of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and REBEL ANGELS

Book Trailer

Author Insights

Hear Cynthia read from the first chapter in this Candlewick audio clip.

“To me, being a teenager seemed a lot like being a monster. A shape shifter with my changing body. A vampire tasting the forbidden. Sometimes wanting to fit into a pack—and sometimes wanting to escape it. Overwhelmed by a hormonal rage. Fearful of what might happen next.

“Adolescence and Gothic fantasy… They’re both explorations of our fears and desires, of the horror and heaven, of opening oneself to the new, redefining possibilities. They’re both about deciding when to walk a line and when to cross it—sometimes with life altering, even fatal consequences.

“TANTALIZE is a genre bender that draws its inspiration from the old-school Gothic masters but with a contemporary and southwestern twist. It’ll be a draw for the YA/adult crossover audience, mystery and suspense lovers, romantics, and those who like their blood served with a splash a wit. It’s the book that speaks most to my own adolescent AKA the monster within.”


TANTALIZE Readers Guide

TANTALIZE and FERAL Series Research Bibliography

Shop Sanguini’s at CafePress for TANTALIZE-FERAL verse T-shirts, hats, mugs, posters & more.

Illustrator Interview: Gene Brenek on the Logo for Sanguini’s in the TANTALIZE-FERAL series from Cynsations. SEE ALSO Illustrator Interview: Gene Brenek on Images of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s ETERNAL from Cynsations. PEEK:

“Certainly what separated the dead from the undead restaurants was the vampire mythology. So I started brainstorming and writing down anything that came to mind when I thought about vampires.”

TANTALIZE-FERAL Verse Short Stories

Cynthia has published short stories set in the TANTALIZE-FERAL series universe.

“Cat Calls” first appeared in SIDESHOW: TEN ORIGINAL TALES OF FREAKS, ILLUSIONISTS, AND OTHER MATTERS ODD AND MAGIC, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2009). It is available as a free e-book.

“Haunted Love” appears in IMMORTAL: LOVE STORIES WITH BITE, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, 2008). It is also available as a free e-book.

“Cupid’s Beaux” appears in THINGS I’LL NEVER SAY: STORIES OF OUR SECRET SELVES, edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015).

Feb. 2007 | 0-7636-2791-7 | Candlewick Press | Hardcover | YA Novel/Fiction | Interior Design Elements | 310 Pages | Ages 14-up | Other Editions: Listening Library; Editions Intervista (France); Scholastic Book Club; Walker Books (U.K.); Walker Australia and New Zealand.