Poor February. It gets a lot of hate being the romance month of the year. Some people love all the stuffed animals and chocolate and others want to burn it all to the ground. You know who also gets a lot of hate? Vampires. Some people love their mysterious gaze and immortality and others just want to stab them in the heart with a wooden stake. Vampires have changed throughout the years in literature but have fascinated us mere mortals for centuries now, including myself.
The first vampires appeared in European folklore but poet Heinrich August Ossenfelder's poem "The Vampire" written in 1798 was the first to mention vampires in written literature. Back then, vampires were always dead relatives who came back to drain their loved ones of their life. It wasn't until 20 years later, that we got the more distinguished vampire that we think of today with John William Polidori's tale called The Vampyre: A Tale. The vampire in this story was modeled after Lord Byron himself and is said to have been made up the same night Mary Shelley wrote her famous story Frankenstein. It wouldn't be until 1872 that we get our first female vampire in Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. Fun to note here, that Le Fanu was the one who wrote in order to kill a vampire, one must stab it in the heart with a wooden stake. All of this leads us up to the famous Dracula written in 1897 by Bram Stoker. For more vampire literature history, check out this article "The Long and Bloody History of Vampires in Literature" by Tracy Mumford.
My first introduction into the vampire literature world was with Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss. It's about a girl whose mother dies and a man who seems to understand her pain but has a secret he's hiding. It has been dubbed the Twilight of the 90's but to me it really isn't. The Silver Kiss stays within its horror genre and while there are romantic elements, the book is about coming to terms with death and long life. I loved it and devoured all of the books written by Annette Curtis Klause. A few of my other favorite 90's vampire fiction include Mary Downing Hahn's Look For Me By Moonlight and Vivian Vande Velde's Companions of the Night.
When Twilight came out in 2005, I was so excited to return to vampires once more. Vampire YA fiction was back, rising from the dead and asking us if it could come in our front door. Some was good and some, well, not so good. One of my personal favorites; Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. You probably know Holly Black for her wildly popular book The Cruel Prince (which I loved too, btw), but if you are looking for a book that gives a nod to all the greatest vampires plus romance and horror, please check this one out. It's a stand alone and I can't rave about it enough.
While the Twilight bustle has gone up and down over the years, I am excited to see vampires are coming back to YA lit once again. Just this past year there have been more and more vampire books being published. Three from 2021 that I really enjoyed were Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston (be prepared to have your heart ripped out and cry your heart out with this one-yes both) and The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling (fantastic paranormal love story and I love how the author handled the vampire lore!) and All These Bodies by Kendare Blake (a murder mystery with unreliable characters).
If you're a lover of vampire lit too, check out this list of YA vampire novels below!
Whether you love or love to hate them, vampires are on their way back into YA. Check out this list of some classic YA lit vampires and some up and coming. HerrickDL TeenPicks
Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere. September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers. Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?