All bite and no bark

As a general rule, I don’t do vampires. I never got into Buffy or Angel. So the fact that I liked – really liked – some stories in Teeth? That’s quite remarkable. The editors (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) asked their contributors to come up with a YA vampire tale that was “smart and unusual,” and a number of the stories they received really lived up to that brief.

I really enjoyed the first story, which is a good way to begin: “Things to Know About Being Dead,” by Genevieve Valentine. It presents a rather different view from the mainstream notions of how one might become a vampire, and its consequences. Suyin, the main character, is delicately drawn; she’s quirky and funny, very likeable. Which of course makes the story that much more difficult, because this is quite an unpleasant story. Suyin is, sadly, dead for most of it. Functioning, but dead. This is a vampire story unlike any other I’ve come across.

Garth Nix sets his “Vampire Weather” in a very different world from Valentine’s. Here, vampires are an acknowledged and feared part of the real world. Amos lives in a compound where life seems to revolve around not getting got by a bloodsucker. Of course, no protection is ever perfect…. This story worked for me mostly because of the characterisation of Amos – he is believably naive and rebellious, investigating his world as well as being protective of his family and their ways.

Finally, Cassandra Clare and Holly Black team up to offer a seriously creepy manual/narrative in “The Perfect Dinner Party.” Written unusually in the second person, present tense, making the events feel very immediate and (ahem) visceral, this is a story that puts a very unpleasant spin on the idea of bringing guests home for dinner. Within the space of the dinner party, there’s a lot of back story too, and while it’s a slightly more straightforward vampire story than some of the other stories, the flair with which it is presented makes it very attractive.

This is an anthology to sink your teeth into.

(I’m so sorry. It had to be done.)

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