And an awful lot of it is aimed at teens.
Given that, today’s post, with one exception, much like this year’s H to K, is very teen focussed. We’ll be back to more adult fare tomorrow.
That said, I’m pleased to say my first choice today isn’t from just a Canadian author, but from a local Ottawa author who I went to high school with.
This book gives a fun twist to vampire fiction, and fiction generally because, if you’ve ever fallen in love with a character and wished they were real, then surprise! In this book, they are.
Premise? Amy lives in Chicago and she and her friends are obsessed with Otherworld – a series of vampire books starring Alexander Banks as the dashing hero, forever in pursuit of the evil Vigo.
One night, while in hot pursuit in Otherworld Chicago, Alexander jumps dimensions into Amy’s Chicago and her crush turns into what so many lovers of fiction dream about: real and true love.
The other fun bit for me in this book were the Ottawa location shout-outs like Pleasant Park and Barrymore’s.
However, I mostly enjoyed watching the character come to terms with how such a fantasy actually plays out in real life. If he’s real, so are vampires. Does he go home after? Do I? Before leaving this fun head space, here’s a video:
P is for Pearl, the main character from one of my favourite finds from this year: Drink, Slay, Love, Sarah Beth Durst’s 2011 novel.
What makes me love this book?
One word: were-unicorn.
Pearl is a sixteen-year-old blood-loving, sunlight-hating, evil vampire until one night a unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn.
Her family doesn’t believe her (because unicorns don’t exist) but when they discover she can withstand sunlight they enroll her in high school so she can meet and invite lots of people over for … dinner … given her family will be hosting a banquet for the Vampire King of New England.
The problem, however, is that Pearl starts to develop a conscience. And make friends.
The book is funny, and there are moments of fabulous dialogue. Examples?
Just prior to enrolling in high school her Uncle Felix gives her this advice:
Americans invented adolescence. It is not a natural phenomenon. Adolescence is a social construct, created by an urban-industrial society that keeps its young at home far past puberty. Teenage angst is a luxury of a successful and complacent society, a purely modern human conceit that isn’t condoned by our superior species.
Then there’s cousin Antoinette who loves high school movies and helps Pearl “dress” the part:
Antoinette selected jeans plus a formless sweater. “This says, ‘Too hot to care what I wear. Worship my wit instead.’ Best if worn without a bra.
Even if you aren’t a vampire fan, if you appreciate a creative twist on a genre with good storytelling to keep your belief nicely suspended, then you will enjoy this.
Q is for Quincey Morris from Bram Stoker’s 1897 Dracula.
I featured Dracula last year if you need a refresher on the Dark Lord.
As for Quincey, he’s the character I think we know the least about from the book.
He’s a rich young, straight shootin’ Texan, and one of the three men, along with Arthur Holmwood and Dr. John Seward, who proposes to Lucy. The men remain friends even after she chooses, and along with Dr. Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker and Mina, are the band that hunt down Dracula.
He plays a key role at the end in that he and Harker are the ones who finally destroy Dracula. Quincey, however, is gravely injured in the battle and dies.
In gratitude, Harker and Mina name their son after him. Indeed, it is that son who is the main character in Dacre Stoker (Bram’s great-grand nephew) and Ian Holt’s 2009 sequel to the original classic – Dracula the Un-dead.
Vampire fiction is also littered with Quinceys in homage to the character. Justin Gustainis has a series about his great-grandson, also named Quincey, who is a supernatural investigator. In 1991 P.N. Elrod wrote a short story called “The Wind Breathes Cold” in which Quincey comes back as a vampire. In 2001 he expanded it into a novel. Then there’s the Castlevania video game series, which features a Quincey who comes back as a ghost.
I first featured the House of Night on last year’s A to Z when the protagonist, Zoey Redbird, ended the alphabet.
Briefly, in this world a small percentage of teenagers change into vampires when they hit puberty. If this happens, they attend a “House of Night” where they learn what they need to know for their new life. Zoey meets her best friend, Stevie Rae, there.
Book four in the series introduces the Raven Mockers: evil, immortal creatures who are the children of Kalona, a fallen immortal. At this end of this book, they attack the House of Night.
In the sixth book, Stevie Rae finds an injured Raven Mocker. While he urges her to kill him, she instead slowly heals him while keeping him secret from her friends. This is, of course, Rephaim, first son of Kalona, and so the most beloved and powerful of the Raven Mockers.
Over the next few books, their relationship deepens. Rephaim struggles between loyalty to his father and to Stevie Rae, as well as with his newfound desire for humanity. It’s a pure, mythic, overcome all odds, struggle for redemption. What’s not to love?
So that’s where we end for today. If you haven’t yet seen your favorite vamp, let me know! Maybe they are still coming!
Photo credits: Otherworld is from Goodreads, as is Drink, Slay, Love. Quincey usually hangs out at the Castlevania wiki, and Rephain is from Deviant Art. The copy of my print of the Dacre Stoker book is from a fellow WordPresser (and was amazingly hard to find online!)