I had a whale of a time with Grave Secrets, the first book in Alice James’ paranormal romp of a series, so I jumped at the chance to be on the blog tour for book two, Grave Danger!
Tag: paranormal fantasy
Review: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
You probably know by now that I love KJ Charles’s writing, and this spooky, steamy collection of stories is no exception. I was reminded of it recently, so here’s a review!Continue reading “Review: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles”
Review: Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold
I’ve just discovered this review languishing in my drafts, oh no! But don’t take my long silence as anything but a mistake – this book deserves shouting about!Continue reading “Review: Dead Man in a Ditch by Luke Arnold”
Review: Vampires Never Get Old, edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C Parker
I love a good vampire story, and this anthology of YA short stories has a pretty star-studded list of contributors and some interesting reworkings of classic vampire myth!
Book: Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C Parker
Publication date: 25th May 2021
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Titan Books. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: violence and death, including parental death; blood drinking; medical abuse and ableism; misgendering. Some of these are only in individual stories – I’m happy to provide more detail if you get in touch.
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.
I usually begin my reviews of short story anthologies with a disclaimer that they’re always a mixed bag, but while there were some stories here I liked more than others, on the whole it’s a very cohesive collection. Though the stories all explore different aspects of teen vampire life, the general tone is very solid, so if you like the first few stories, then the whole book is likely to be a hit.
Among my favourites of the eleven stories were Tessa Gratton’s ‘Seven Nights for Dying’, which opens the collection, and VE Schwab’s ‘First Kill’, which closes it. The former has all the melancholy angst and languid sex appeal you expect from a classic vampire story, while the latter was a fun and punchy story about a vampire with a sapphic crush. My very favourite, though, was Samira Ahmed’s ‘A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire’, which is written as if it’s part of a self-help website, and has a brilliant voice to it – it’s full of snark and humour and bitterness about colonialism, and it also really cleverly works in the worldbuilding with offhand remarks, with an online network of vampires I really wanted to know more about.
Less successful for me were Laura Ruby’s ‘Bestiary’, which I just didn’t get on with the style of; ‘The Boy and the Bell’ by Heidi Heilig, which I found a little boring, as it’s mostly a single conversation; and ‘Vampires Never Say Die’ by the editors, which I honestly did not understand. This last story reimagines vampires as Instagram influencers, which is a cool idea, but I thought the plot was very weird. There are two perspectives that seemed to me to fit poorly together; this might have been the point, since the story sets up a kind of odd-couple relationship, but flicking between the two characters didn’t work for me.
The rest of the stories in the book were solid four stars for me, if I was going to rate them individually. There’s a fantastic mix of queer, disabled, and non-white authors and stories here, and it’s a great way to pull vampires away from the very white, abled, and heteronormative vampire pattern of much of the YA of the post-Twilight era. While some of the stories edge towards creepy, I don’t think anything here went all the way to outright horror; Rebecca Roanhorse’s ‘The Boys of Blood River’ was the closest, I think, but I’m a verified horror wuss and found everything here okay (which might mean, if you’re specifically looking for horror, it’ll be a bit tame for you!).
One minor gripe: each story has notes from the editors after it, which I found rather off-putting – not in concept, but in style. They’re one part ‘fellow kids’ meme (complete with puntastic titles) and one part GCSE English Literature analysis, complete with a book club-style question at the end like “If you had the choice, would you want to live forever?” and “In what other ways are vampires a symbol of privilege?”. I found this quite patronising, and though I’m always aware that I’m now reading outside my age bracket when I read YA, I’m pretty sure I would have felt the same as a teen. Perhaps this is because I’m very familiar with vampire lore and history and most of what they were saying wasn’t new to me, so your mileage may vary, of course, but I just didn’t think it was necessary – a good story should stand on its own feet, not come with explanation from the editor.
Overall, this is a solid YA anthology! These stories have the teen experience at their hearts, so if you’re a fan of the early seasons of Buffy, this will be right up your street. I’m glad vampires are having a bit of a revival, and this is a great way to read some fun, fresh, diverse takes on their tropes. Four out of five cats, overall!
Review: The Selkie Scandal
You should probably know, if you’ve been here a while, that I love little more than a good fantasy of manners, and this fun novella is a great start to a new series that looks like it’ll be exactly my cup of tea!Continue reading “Review: The Selkie Scandal”
Review: The Angel of the Crows
If you like your Sherlock Holmes retellings with a touch of the paranormal, The Angel of the Crows is a solid addition to the genre!Continue reading “Review: The Angel of the Crows”
Review: The Scapegracers
When I saw this gorgeous cover pop up on my Twitter feed, I was instantly intrigued by this book, and the blurb only sold me more – a queer, witchy story about supportive friends hexing rude guys sounded perfect! The Scapegracers ended up being not quite what I expected, but I think it’s a brilliant, and much needed, addition to the YA shelves.
Review: Cursed Anthology
An anthology based on the curses of folklore and fairy tale was always going to be my cup of tea…
Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City
The term ‘most anticipated book of the year’ gets thrown around a lot in book blogging (I do it too, I know!) but I have genuinely been on the edge of my seat to read this since the announcement that it had been picked up – and it’s not even out until February 2020! The Last Smile in Sunder City is the debut novel by Luke Arnold, who just so happens to play my favourite character in one of my favourite shows, Black Sails (which you should totally watch). Great acting doesn’t necessarily mean great writing, so I was apprehensive, but wow, was this man blessed when they handed out creativity, because this book is absolutely PHENOMENAL.
Review: Hex Life
Just because it’s past Halloween doesn’t mean that spooky season is over, right? Today I’m talking about a collection of 18 witchy short stories that contains some real gems!