The Rise and Resurrection of Vampires in YA ~ Amy McCaw

I’ve been interested in vampires for as long as I can remember. Some time in those early readings of Point Horror, Anne Rice and Stephen King, vampires stood out to me. Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer in my early teens cemented the fascination. A lot of people I know are constant vampire readers like me, but every now and again they fall out of favour. So what vampire books do I think you should read, and why are we currently in yet another vampire heyday?

Twilight came out in 2005, igniting a fresh obsession with vampires and other supernatural beings that spread from the intended YA audience to adult readers. This sparked a flood of paranormal YA books, leaving publishers tentative to take on any more and readers seeking out vampires that were more sparkly than scary.

I enjoy all kinds of vampire books, so I was fine with that trend. Part of the reason I think vampire books continue to be revived is that there’s so much room for variety and reinvention.

Even in the 90s, The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith was exploring that vampires can be tortured souls with a conscience or witty murderous antagonists that might kiss or kill the main character. Later books like The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine did their own spin on vampire mythology (in this case, a town overrun with vampires that humans can’t leave once they enter). Holly Black also did her take on a vampire town in The Coldest Girl in Cold Town. For historical vampire fiction, try The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, All These Bodies by Kendare Blake or Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco.

There’s also been a fun subgenre of vampire books that deal with contemporary issues alongside vampires. Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig; Big Bad Me by Aislinn O’Loughlin (also featuring werewolves); The Reluctant Vampire Queen by Jo Simmons; Vampires, Hearts and Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell fit nicely into this category.

You might be thinking that the current trend for dark academia is more your speed. If you want a boarding school book with vampires, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Marked by PC and Kristen Cast and Crave by Tracy Wolff have got you covered.

Recently, even my ultimate vampire favourite Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been given a reboot. Kendare Blake is writing a trilogy set over a decade after season 7 of Buffy, first with In Every Generation and in January 2023 with One Girl in All the World. William Ritter has also given Spike the prequel novel he deserves in Bloody Fool for Love. I also need to check out Big Bad by Lily Anderson, set in an alternative reality Sunnydale in 1999.

So why are vampire books just as popular as they’ve ever been? YA horror is seeing a lot of mainstream success, with TV shows like Stranger Things and the Fear Street movie fueling the obsession. I also think the pandemic and recent world events have left people craving escapism more than ever, and visiting a world of fun scares and supernatural goings on is just what a lot of people need. I know I do.

Amy McCaw is the author of Mina and the Undead & Mina and the Slayers

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