Review: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite

Authors: Tessa Gratton, Rebecca Roanhorse, Julie Murphy, Heidi Helig, Samira Ahmed, Kayla Whaley, Zoraida Cordova, Natalie C. Parker, Laura Ruby, Mark Osbiro, Dhonielle Clayton, Victoria (V.E.) Schwab
Editors: Zoraida Cordova, Natalie C. Parker
Publisher: Imprint
Released: September 22nd, 2020
Received: Own

4 kitties

Do you love vampires? Then you might just want to check out Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite. Not only does it have a fangtastic focus, but it is written by some of my favorite authors out there.

So, confession time, I first heard of Vampires Never Get Old when I heard the news that one of the short stories (First Kill) was getting adapted into a series. First, I flipped out over that news, second, I went hunting for this anthology. I’m so glad I did so!

Included in this anthology are: Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton, The Boys From Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse, Senior Year Sucks by Julie Murphy, The Boy and the Bell by Heidi Helig, A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed, In Kind by Kayla Whaley, Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker, Bestiary by Laura Ruby, Mirrors, Windows, & Selfies by Mark Osbiro, The House of Black Sapphires by Dhonielle Clayton, and First Kill by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab.

Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Can I just start by saying that I love that Tessa Gratton wrote the first short story to come up in this anthology? That’s how you know that this is going to be a winner (well, that and all the other authors, plus the theme). Seven Nights for Dying is a compelling yet fascinating read. A young woman must make a difficult decision – to stay as she is, or to become one of the night. It’s not a quick process, as it turns out, so there’s a little bit of time to decide. Bonus points for being body and sex positive.

“Esmael told me that teenage girls make the best vampires.”

The Boys From Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Where the first short in this anthology was overall fairly bright and happy, The Boys From Blood River will make your blood run cold. No pun intended, I think. Rebecca Roanhorse wrote something truly fantastic here, one part folklore, one part vampirism and bullies. I love that it is set in a diner, and has such a strong musical component. If you were to ask me to pick another short from this anthology to get an adaptation, it’d be this one.

As I walked by the river, the moon my companion, I spied a young fellow, an amiable lad…

Senior Year Sucks by Julie Murphy

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

If you’re looking for something kind of quirky, with a strong Buffy vibe (while being delightfully body positive), then you’re going to want to check out Senior Year Sucks. It’s a funny twist on the whole trope of hunters and vampires. Like so many others, it is focused on highschoolers, yet has a bit of fun with the concept.

“My name is Jolene Crandall, and I’m the newest vampire slayer in Sweetwater, Texas.”

The Boy and the Bell by Heidi Helig

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Warnings: Buried alive

We’ve all heard the tales of people being mistakenly buried alive. It’s the whole reason why some plots had bells on them, back in the day. The Boy and the Bell plays with that concept, only there’s a very specific twist in the mix. I really enjoyed this story, and all of the ways it managed to subvert expectations. Nicely done.

Ting a ling ding, time a ling, ting a ling.

A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire is without a doubt the sassiest short story in the entire collection. It had me laughing out loud at so many points, thanks to the tongue in cheek humor of it all. The title alone should be description enough here, as it is really quite accurate. I love the modern take on this one, and many of the details that are quickly glossed over.

“Congrats! Mubarak! Badhaae ho!

You’re a vampire now. Welcome to the afterlife!”

In Kind by Kayla Whaley

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Warnings: Ableism, parental abuse

Holy cow. This is a powerful short, I can tell you that much. Honestly, I’m hesitant to describe it because I really don’t want it to lose any of the impact. In Kind is the tale of one young woman, and the painful circumstances that led to her being embraced. It’s a tense read, one that opens up room for dialogue about public perception and ableism, and so much more. This is a story that everyone should read.

“Everything was lurid and pure. No thought, only bright pain and a sense of falling.”

Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

In all likelihood, this is the short that inspired the title of the entire anthology (and perhaps the theme as well). It’s written by the two editors of the collection, Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker (two heavy-hitters in their own rights). This is probably the most modern telling of vampirism I’ve seen, making strong use of Instagram and social media to tell a story. It was an interesting read. It speaks of loneliness, eternal life, and more.

“Maybe that’s why I joined Instagram. To feel a connection to the things I’ve lost.”

Bestiary by Laura Ruby

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Bestiary was probably the hardest one for me to read, thanks to the animal presence. I was so worried the whole time about what would happen to the animals in the zoo (animals in vampire stories don’t normally fare well, in my experience). It didn’t go quite the way I feared, though it still got very dark at times. It’s the tale of one girl, the zoo she calls home, and her attempts to find her own definition of freedom in a world full of capitalism and abuse.

“The animals were thirsty. The people were thirsty. And that meant – “

Mirrors, Windows, & Selfies by Mark Osbiro

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Cisco is a young vampire. Young, and alone. He was born a vampire, not made. He was told that makes him special, and as a result is the reason for his isolation. In desperation for contact, Cisco starts a blog. His entire story is told over the course of his writing experiment, and it is a fascinating read from start to finish. Imagine coming across something like that in real life, you’d probably think it was a joke, right?

“I made this because I have no one to talk to. That’s not me being melodramatic, either. I have been reading the words of others for so long, but it’s time for me to speak.”

The House of Black Sapphires by Dhonielle Clayton

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

A family of vampires must always be on the move, for fear of getting caught. That is the life, or unlife, that Bea has grown up with. Set in New Orleans, this is an interesting tale of one family and the risks and power they wield on a regular basis. Honestly, I really wish there was more to this story, for it almost felt like it started and finished in the middle. I know, short story. But still.

“Maybe this time she’d find an eternal love.”

First Kill by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

As mentioned above, First Kill is literally the whole reason I heard about this anthology in the first place. So automatically I’m feeling grateful to it, while also going into it expecting to adore it (because I adore Schwab’s writing).

First Kill is the sapphic vampire/hunter story that I feel like we’ve all been waiting for. Two teenage girls, one a vampire, the other from a long line of vampire and monster hunters. They should hate each other. They should want to kill each other, and maybe, in a way, they do. But that is far from being the only emotion these two feel.

“Juliette has never felt at home in her skin, or in any other part of herself, for that matter.”

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
This entry was posted in Anthology, Fantasy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Review: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite

  1. Nancy says:

    I love short story collections and have enjoyed other short stories by Rebecca Roanhorse, so I will have to give this book a try!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s