In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.
Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.
The editor’s note at the beginning talk about the various literature through which readers have gotten introduced to the lore of vampires through the years, but I think my first encounter was through Twilight and The Vampire Diaries; that too after a couple of movies/seasons had already released respectively. But I did go on to read a lot of paranormal stuff after and developed a love for vampire stories. So when I saw the announcement for this anthology, I was very excited because I really was ready to explore these creatures of the night outside of the cis, white, male, thin, hot cliche we were so used to.
And this collection truly delivers. We have amazing Black and brown representation here, alongwith vampires across a whole spectrum of gender and sexuality, and it was such a delight to read these stories. The editors also give some details about the inspirations for each of these stories, about the myths they are based upon, and the themes that are being addressed – I really appreciated that extra commentary because it gave me so much more insight. Within this collection are stories full of grief, pain, excitement, loneliness and various other emotions, and I think all of you will find something that will connect with you. My desi heart was obviously delighted with Samira’s story the most, but you could say I’m biased.
If you are a vampire lover, this is a fun collection of stories to explore and I would definitely recommend it. Below you can read my detailed thoughts on each of the stories:
Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton
We are so used to stories of vampires full of violence and force, so this was refreshing in the sense that it was very quiet and contemplative with the main theme being about choice. What if you could live forever ? Would you wanna be a vampire? What should drive this decision – anger, grief.. or just love. I really enjoyed the idea behind this one.
The Boys from Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse
In contrast to the first story, this one also is about choice, how a young Native gay boy who has lost almost everything and is bullied constantly in his small town feels like he has nothing left but would love to not be alone, even if it means becoming a vampire. But how much is he ready to sacrifice for it ?
Senior Year Sucks by Julie Murphy
Told from the POV of a young fat vampire slayer/ cheerleading team captain in a Texas small town, this is a story about having to do your duty even if that’s not all you want to do, but still trying to make choices that feel true to yourself. And all the dangerous sexy tension between this slayer and the vampire girl she meets is just a delightful added bonus.
The Boy and the Bell by Heidi Heilig
Set around the time of Bram Stoker’s Dracula release, this one featuring a trans protagonist is an interesting take on what it means to be human and wanting to be something that you aren’t allowed to be; while also making a fascinating comparison between vampires and the rice and privileged people of the time.
A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed
I knew I was gonna love this before I even started. Written as a online how to guide to be a new teen desi vampire, this was both hilarious and profound with the usual instructions you would assume to give someone new, but also full of desiness that delighted me. From taking digs at British colonizers to American capitalists to Zuck, while also mentioning memorable places and food in the motherland – this was amazing. I also thought it was interesting to see vampirism and colonialism as parallels, sucking blood literally and metaphorically out of normal people. And I’m still reveling in the nostalgia of seeing the mention of Sultan Bazaar (which happens to be a huge and bustling area full of street markets in Hyderabad), a place I’ve visited quite a bit in my childhood, in a book published in the US. Now I just want more desi vampire stories.
In Kind by Kayla Whaley
Featuring a completely wheelchair bound young woman turned vampire, this story takes a dark but important look at both the difficulty that caregivers have in providing the required support for their disabled children, as well as throws light onto the horrific aspect of mercy killings where the caregivers (aka murderers) are considered being merciful but no one ever asks the disabled person what they wanted to do with their life. This was hard to read but also empowering towards the end.
Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Córdova & Natalie C. Parker
A story about an unlikely Instagram friendship between a human and a vampire, the kinds of connections that can be built online amidst all the fake online personas we create, the beginning of a beautiful relationship, the difference we can make in the world if we get to live forever – and all of this happening with the backdrop of stabby vampire politics. This was both poetic and intense and very intriguing.
Bestiary by Laura Ruby
This was such a unique tale – set in a time where earth has been ravaged by climate change, there’s food and water scarcity and the Uber rich control these resources even more – our protagonist is a shape shifting vampire who was betrayed when turned but she finds solace in the company of animals at the zoo she works at. I absolutely loved her interactions with the bear and the lionesses, and also her older boss.
Mirrors, Windows & Selfies by Mark Oshiro
A boy who shouldn’t exist, sheltered and isolated all his life, having never even seen a mirror, uses his blog to put out all his thoughts just to feel a little less lonely. His story and the comments he gets are interesting to read but there’s so much pain laced with hope in his predicament, and I just wanted him to be able to get out into the world and find himself. As always, Mark Oshiro’s writing is stunning and emotional, packing a punch.
The House of Black Sapphires by Dhonielle Clayton
I loved this story more for its setting of an Eternal version of New Orleans where all kinds of immortals live and I thought the descriptions of the city as well as the ball that takes place and the overall ambience was very beautiful. Added to that was some delicious attraction between two immortals who are enemies, and it made for a cool story. The open ending however, did leave me wanting, and it felt more like the beginning of a new story than the end of one.
First Kill by Victoria “V. E.” Schwab
This is also in a way similar to the previous story, two young high school senior girls who are attracted to each other unexpectedly find that one can’t escape her thirst for blood while the other can’t forget her destiny of being a supernatural hunter.. This definitely had a more fun vibe but that ending was super cool.