Step straight into a world where society knows vampires exist and even considers them A-list celebrities. Since their reveal, vampires live a lavish lifestyle in designated vampire mansions, like Belle Morte, where humans can apply to become blood donors and be swept into their extravagant lifestyle. Renie Mayfield hates vampire culture, but when her vampire-obsessed sister June is accepted as a blood donor at Belle Morte, she grows worried after all communication from June suddenly ceases. The only way for Renie to get answers is to become a blood donor herself to attain entry into the vampire mansion and the secrets within. However, Renie gains more than she anticipated when the gorgeous vampire Edmond is immediately fascinated by Renie and her refreshing nature. I loved uncovering the mystery of what happened to June and watching Renie’s opinion on vampires change as she began to understand them. Belle Morte challenges our preconceived biases and offers a taste of forbidden love that you can’t afford to miss!
Kerry’s worst fear during her late-night rescue mission of her little brother’s stuffed koala bear, Footy, is being caught by her dad for sneaking out or pulled over for driving alone with just a learner’s permit. However, what she finds at the twenty-four-hour laundromat is worse than she could ever imagine. After recovering Footy, Kerry turns to leave when three men bust in dragging a bound and gagged bloody young man. At first, she worries they will kill her too, but they claim to be vampire hunters only concerned with executing immortals. Kerry is ordered to stay until morning, but she begins to question what she has been told and helps the young man escape. Suddenly, Kerry finds herself caught up in love and a deadly vampire hunt. Check out Companions of the Night for a story where vampires aren’t the villains but instead are those who prey on others who are different.
Noah Vance always does the right thing and wishes to fit in at school and ask his dream girl, Paige, to the prom. But everything changes after he blacks out after a party. He wakes up in an unfamiliar house feeling like death and does not remember how he got there or who he was with. His mom brings him to the doctor for his high fever, but the doctors aren’t able to find his pulse, and Noah appears to have two mysterious puncture marks on his neck. Once the pain is finally gone, Noah quickly realizes he seems to have transformed into a vampire and starts to test out his new abilities. The only problem is that he has no idea how he got this way or how he will ever be normal again. I Heart Vampire: Birth is a new vampire transformation story that leads Noah down a mysterious path and helps him find himself along the way.
Jessica Packwood is rightfully concerned when she catches a handsome stranger lurking by the bus stop. She figures that she must be hearing things when he whispers her birth name, Antanasia, into the mist. Later at school, she learns the boy is Lucius Vladescu, a new European transfer student who claims Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess. Strangest of all, Lucius explains that they have been betrothed since birth in an attempt to unite their rival vampire clans. Jessica doesn’t believe him and continues with her senior year as planned, hanging out with her best friend, Mindy, and pursuing her crush, Jake Finn. However, Lucius doesn’t give up on the marriage contract or his attempt to woo Jessica. Meanwhile, things escalate when a manipulative cheerleader shows interest in Lucius, and a vampire war emerges on the horizon. I particularly enjoyed Lucius’ Romanian vampire accent in the audiobook version and all of the twists and turns that Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side has to offer. I never knew what path Jessica was going to follow and couldn’t put the book down as a result!
Sixteen-year-old August “Auggie” Pfeiffer’s biggest problems are passing Algebra Ⅰ and being the only out gay boy in his high school. He despises Fulton Heights due to its multitude of humans, vacant warehouses, and a strange, mystical energy that attracts vampires. The environment is perfect for vampires, who usually kill three residents a year. Despite this, for some reason, Auggie’s parents mysteriously refuse to move. But Auggie’s life is transformed when a handsome English vampire delivers him a cryptic message declaring him the chosen one to solve the feud between the Syndicate of Vampires, the League of the Dark Star, and the Mystic Order of the Northern Wolf. The fate of the world rests on Auggie’s shoulders to keep a deadly power from returning to Earth. The Fell of Dark is an exceptional and funny LGBTQ+ vampire story that you don’t want to miss!
Gwen West doesn’t know what to expect when she is selected to participate in the government-sponsored pageant where mandatory is not optional. The winner will marry the charming Prince Dallas Black, part of the mysterious royal family. Gwen’s dad and older brother fought in the war to keep the Blacks from gaining power, but they never returned, leaving the family to starve despite their previous wealth. The pageant is Gwen’s last hope to save her family, but things change when Queen Black bites Gwen’s outspoken new friend, Eve, minutes after they arrive at the palace. It turns out the royals are vampires, and Gwen is no longer so sure she wants to win. The Pageant is a fun dystopian novel with a vampire twist that fans of the Hunger Games will enjoy.
Sita has lived many lives in her past 5,000 years of being a vampire, but things change when she moves to Mayfair under the alias of Alisa Perne. Detective Michael Riley threatens to blackmail her and reveal her “unnatural” identity, forcing Sita to kill him and track down the true person investigating her background. Along the way, she meets the detective’s son, Ray, who reminds Sita of her only true love, Rama. But when she uncovers who is after her, she digs up the past and is forced to question the power of love and break her vow to Krishna—her god—for protection. Sita is a vampire that I would like to become. She makes mistakes but has great power and ability to love. Reading a story about a strong female vampire lead was refreshing. The surprise ending will also hook readers to finish the remainder of the Thirst series to learn the rest of Sita and Ray’s journey.
Sophie McGee’s present aspiration is to become the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. She has worked hard on her past stories, including exposing major health code violations in the cafeteria. However, her journalism teacher, Mr. Amado, wants Sophie’s future work to be more celebratory than investigative to avoid stirring up trouble. He assigns Sophie to write student profiles for the new foreign exchange students from Bulgaria, but as she gets to know them, she suspects they are hiding something. Sophie’s simple life gets more complicated when her ex-neighbor and crush, James Hallowell, returns to school and no longer appears to be an average guy. He is especially friendly with the new exchange students and seems to avoid the sunlight. Can Sophie get to the bottom of their story without upsetting Mr. Amado and risking her chance at becoming editor-in-chief? I particularly enjoyed the journalistic aspects of Vampire Crush, considering my position as the arts and life editor at the Daily Wildcat and Sophie’s mission to stop vampires from committing evil.
The eleven contemporary vampire stories in Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite offer a fresh take on the beloved vampire. The collection focuses on reimagining vampire lore away from Western-focused stories that predominantly showcase vampires as male, cisgender, straight, and able-bodied. All of the short stories feature diverse representations and aim to distance vampires from long-standing traditions and stereotypes. I especially loved how a question was posed about vampires and society’s preconceived notions after each story. With a variety of writing styles and voices, Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite has a story for everyone.
Amethyst is a pureblood vampire princess planning to rule by demanding order and control. However, her world is divided into twelve continents, each occupied by a different supernatural group with its own aliases and enemies. This constant threat of chaos is not helped by Amethyst’s brothers. Her older brother Altore is constantly fighting with her fiancé Vallénce, and her younger brother Elrie has been hiding something ever since their mother’s death. Meanwhile, their father, Julius, is still overcome with grief following his wife’s death and has been unable to rule sufficiently. The vampire kingdom is susceptible to attack, forcing Amethyst to confront her family’s dark secrets and put a stop to rebellion. I liked how this novel touched on the fragility of mortality and displayed the critical fight for peace and justice.
Emilee Ceuninck, Pine Reads Review Lead Writer & Editor