I picked up this anthology because one of my favorite authors, V.E. Schwab, is featured in it and her story “First Kill” is getting a Netflix adaptation. Other than that, I didn’t go into this book with any sort of expectations. I’ve been stressed out because of midterms so I just wanted something light and entertaining to read, and this book was exactly what I needed. These stories are full of diversity, they include fresh imaginings of the vampire that I have never considered before, and they explored some classic vampire lore. Overall, I had fun with this book but I did reach a slump in the middle. It was the fact that Schwab’s story was at the end that kept me going. The thing with these stories is that a lot of them left me wanting more, I felt unsatisfied for most of them, but I think that might be a me problem... maybe I just have to learn to appreciate short stories for what they are. I have a hard time reviewing this book as a whole because I liked some of the stories a lot better than others, so I broke it all down and ranked them from most favorite to least favorite, with a one or two sentence review for each.
1) “The Boy and the Bell” by Heidi Heilig: This one was by far my favorite. I loved the Victorian setting, I was pretty much instantly attached to Will, it was atmospheric, and the writing felt sophisticated and chilling.
2) “First Kill” by V.E. Schwab: We’ve got a classic case of “do I want to kill you or kiss you??” and a blurring of lines between good and evil. I’m super excited to see where this story goes in the adaptation and I love how Cal and Jules’ narratives parallel each other.
3) “Seven Nights for Dying” by Tessa Gratton: I really liked the blunt writing style, the unique creation ritual, and the fact that it was focused on choice rather than a big vampire reveal. I think it was a strong opening and I even got choked up.
4) “The Boys From Blood River” by Rebecca Roanhorse: I really felt for Lukas... he is so flawed and he knows it too. Also, I can’t even blame him for getting so caught up in Silas because I would take one look into those eyes and forget to see the monster underneath too.
5) “The House of Black Sapphires” by Dhonielle Clayton: This one was so descriptive and absolutely magical, I liked the character dynamics but it left me with a lot of questions.
6) “Bestiary” by Laura Ruby: This one was so unexpected, basically the world is ending and a lonely vampire girl finds solace among animals. Jude was likable in a sad way, I felt for her.
7) “Mirrors, Windows & Selfies” by Mark Oshiro: This one was good! I don’t usually like stories that are structured like… blog posts… but this one worked. I got really invested in Cisco super fast.
8) “A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire” by Samira Ahmed: Okay this one was fun, sarcastic, and a whole new vibrant take on 21st century vampirism, with the inclusion of serious undertones as well.
9) “In Kind” by Kayla Whaley: I liked Seanan, she was kind which is so unlike many vampires. This one had decent writing and explored a heavy topic.
10) “Vampires Never Say Die” by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker: Featuring a real life vampire catfishing a teenage twihard, what could go wrong? This one was alright, I liked the glimpse of the vampire politics of New York.
11) “Senior Year Sucks” by Julie Murphy: I liked the concept of the resurrection home and the town history, but the whole thing felt rushed and I wasn’t a fan of the writing style.