Feehan, C. (2003). Dark melody. New York: Leisure Books.
Corinne loves the Dark Troubadours, a dark rock band headed by the sexy, mysterious Dayan. One night, she and her supermodel sister see the Troubadours play at a local spot, and she meets Dayan, a musician she’s idolized. Unbeknownst to her, she is the one true lifemate of Dayan, and he feels powerfully drawn to her, doing everything in his power to be united with her forever. He is a Carpathian–essentially a vampire that has not yet turned to a life of empty bloodlust, evil and depravity. Corinne’s early life was one of difficulty and privation, and with a severe heart condition and a pregnancy, she is dying. Secret Carpathian methods and blood are used to save her and her child, and Dayan turns her after she has given birth, which cures the heart defect and they begin their blissful wedded and family life.
Corinne and Dayan’s relationship does not begin on the healthiest of terms. Dayan is doing everything to get her, including using mind-control and obfuscating or erasing her memory when things go awry. Nevertheless, there is a certain sweetness in a story about a handsome rock star musician falling in love with a physically-frail but courageous young woman. Furthermore, Feehan has created an interesting distinction between good and evil vampires by dividing them into Carpathian (good) and vampire (evil). Recommended for those that enjoy a predictable but enjoyable romance novel plot structure with a vampire spin.
If you like paranormal passion, try:
Gomez, J. (1991). The Gilda stories: A novel. Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand Books.
The Girl, an escaped slave, is hiding in a farmhouse many miles from home when a white man tries to rape her, only to die with her knife buried deep in his chest. Gilda, a white vampiress, finds her and takes her in, giving her a safe place to stay at Woodard’s, her whorehouse. The Girl grows up and into a strong young woman, and Gilda turns her to keep her lover, Bird, company. At first Bird is resentful that Gilda died and left the Girl behind, but she must accept it, and the Girl takes Gilda’s name. They are vampires that do not kill, but who cherish the humans they feed from and bring them good dreams, cherishing their memory should they die, but not all vampires are like this as Gilda learns. Following her life over the course of 100 years, Gilda lives many lives with integrity, love and joy, her chosen vampire family never far.
Jewelle Gomez conceptualizes a race of vampires that contains many members with a belief in the sacredness of life. This is a refreshingly deep departure from most authors, some of whom may postulate vampires who seek to do no harm, but very few who postulate those who practice the level of kindness and benevolence of Gomez’s sanguinarians.
For more black and minority ethnic tales, try:
Harris, C. (2008). Dead until dark. New York: Ace Books.
Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress at Merlotte’s, a little restaurant and bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Though she looks like a cute all-American girl, her ability to read minds sets her apart from people. That all changes when she meets Bill, a brooding vampire whose mind is blessedly opaque to her. Alas, the honeymoon period is short-lived. Dangerous rival vampires, a murder spree that leads to Sookie’s grandmother’s death and Sookie’s constant brushes with danger and death make her relationship with Bill very complicated and tempestuous.
The vampires that Harris portrays are fairly stereotypical, with territorial spats, blood drinking, and avoidance of daylight, to name a few things. However, the vampires manage to market themselves and maneuver politically, and the presence of lab-created blood products presents a relatively stable, sustainable society that successfully integrates vampires and humans, though there are the inevitable hiccups when vampires assert their predatory nature.
Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series was turned into the wildly popular HBO show True Blood, which will be entering its 3rd season in June 2010. The show remains faithful enough to the general ideas and plot elements in the novels without being slavishly identical, and it happily takes some of the schlocky romance novel elements away.
If you like Southern vampire tales, try:
Jacob, L. (2004). Irma: Memoirs of a vampire gone dry. Stillwater, MN: Stillwater Pub.
Irma is part vampire, through a tangled line of matrilineal blood and history. She muses on family members, garlic dentist visits and vampirism but she is not sure quite what to do about the latter. She meets John Ling, a tall and rather gangly Asian librarian, at her dentist’s office and they fall in love. He names a panda after her as part of his marriage proposal and she rapturously accepts. Sadly, they are only married a short time before he is killed in a tragic accident involving a TV, and Irma drains him dry as he dies.
The novel does its best to read like a memoir, and succeeds as a rather wordy and often matter-of-fact account. Much of the plot centers around family relations and what vampirism means to Irma, which tends to make the plot drag a bit. Nonetheless, if you are looking for tales of Jewish vampires, this novel may be worth a read.
If you’d like more memoirs and confessionals, try:
Kikuchi, H. & Leahy, K. (Trans.). (2005). Vampire hunter D (Yoshitaka Amano, illus.). Milwaukie, OR: DH Press.
It is 12,090 A.D. and humans very nearly destroyed Earth in nuclear holocaust long ago. Vampires emerged during those dark times and helped preserve human life and technology, though it was done at a very high cost to their victims. In the present-day, they merely exist to frighten people and occasionally feed from them, and a young woman named Doris Lang was accosted and bitten by Count Magnus Lee. Doris hires D, a Vampire Hunter and dhampir (half-human, half-vampire), to help protect her and her brother, and ultimately to help her defeat the Count. To complicate matters further, the mayor’s repulsive son, Greco, does cruel and manipulative things to try and get Doris to marry him. Larmica Lee, the Count’s daughter, falls in love with D and seeks to destroy Doris whom she considers unworthy to be her father’s consort. When D slays Magnus in battle, Larmica demolishes the castle with herself inside. Doris and Dan Lang are safe at last, though they both mourn the loss of D.
The novel is a detailed, descriptive work, but after having seen the anime, the details and imagery are so similar as to be a bit dull (though the anime makes her a blonde instead of raven-haired). Stark black and white artwork by Yoshitaka Amano adds more interest to the text. The novel holds few surprises for those who have seen the anime, but it may be a useful tie-in in a school setting to show students how a book is adapted to manga or anime format, or to engage the more reluctant reader with multiple formats of the same story.
If you’d like to explore more novels with manga tie-ins, try:
Klause, A. C. (1990). The silver kiss. New York: Delacorte Press.
Zoe’s mother is dying of cancer, her father is caught up in his own grief, and her best friend, Lorraine, is moving away. Adding to all this, there has been a spate of mysterious deaths in town. One night at the park, she meets a beautiful but creepy boy. He is Simon, a vampire, and he is intrigued by the pain he senses in Zoe, the sense of loss they both share. Simon holds the key to the alarming murders that all share the same trait: the throats are slashed and the bodies are bloodless. Many centuries ago, an evil vampire named Wulfram turned his little brother, Christopher, and they lured their mother to her death. Years later, Christopher turns Simon, but Simon breaks free, living a beastly existence until he learns to control his hunger. Christopher appears to be a beautiful but sickly child, but he leaves a trail of death in his wake, until Zoe and Simon manage to lure him into a trap that barely succeeds. Their task done, Simon greets the dawn with joy. Zoe is finally learning to accept loss, both with her mother and her brief love, and bravely chooses to embrace life.
A teen must learn to face a shifting, ever-changing reality when making the transition to adulthood. Not only is Zoe’s life changing drastically with the impending loss of her mother, but she also learns of the existence of supernatural beings. Zoe is a typical teenage girl confronted by a very real crisis in her family, as well as a change in reality as she knows it when she encounters vampires. The Silver Kiss is both a teen vampire novel and a coming-of-age story that realistically deals with grief, but is not too heavy to make it a tough read. With some violence and mild sexual content, this novel is recommended for ages 13+.
If you’re interested in teen novels that deal with death, try:
If you’re interested in vampire novels that also deal with cancer, try: