Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite by Zoraida Córdova
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is an attempt to take a fresh look at the vampire trope, giving it a more modern spin. Unfortunately, because these are mostly young-adult tales focusing to a greater or lesser degree on teenage angst and struggles to fit in, it gives the stories a sense of sameness that reduces their impact. Having said that, there are a few standouts.
Rebecca Roanhorse's "The Boys From Blood River" takes its inspiration from the 80's movie The Lost Boys, with the story of a gay Native teen who nearly turns to the titular "boys" to save him after his mother's death. But he is unable to meet their price--the death of the only person in his little town who's been kind to him--and he is able to make them go away, at least for a while.
Julie Murphy's "Senior Year Sucks" offers a bit of a twist on the "Vampire Slayer" trope, with this slayer, Jolene Crandall of Sweetwater, Texas, allowing a newly turned vampire to attend her senior year of high school.
Samira Ahmed's "A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire" is a comedic vampire story, told as a new vampire discovering a "Vampersand" app on their phone, dispensing all sort of cultural-specific advice. The tone is light and snarky, but it tackles some serious subjects such as colonization and cultural appropriation.
Dhonielle Clayton's "The House of Black Sapphires" has an abrupt and somewhat dissatisfying ending, but its setting is original and fascinating. I would love the author to expand this into a novel, as I think it has the most potential of any of the stories.
But the most memorable and disturbing story is Kayla Whaley's "In Kind," when a disabled girl is made into a vampire after her father attempted to perform a so-called "mercy killing" on her. It's raw and visceral, and explores the terror of a helpless person when their caregiver turns on them. Grace, the protagonist, repays her father's "kindness"--not with his death, but with exactly what he deserves.
Overall, this anthology is pretty uneven, and its vampires are not the "Nosferatu"-type psychotic undead monsters of old (though thankfully there are no Twilight-style sparklers). It was a pleasant enough way to pass a few hours, but save for the exceptions noted above, none of the stories really stuck with me.
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