The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire

eternal_kissEditor: Tricia Telep
Authors: Karen Majoney; Melissa de la Cruz; Maria V. Snyder; Holly Black; Sarah Rees Brennan; Kelley Armstrong; Libba Bray; Rachel Caine; Cecil Castellucci; Cassandra Clare; Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie; Lili St. Crow; Dina James
Publisher: Running Press/teens
Genre: YA Short stories/Horror/Romance
Call number: YPB Eternal (in the new teen paperbacks)

Overall, this is a decent anthology of vampire stories that will easily find an audience among the vampire-crazed. It’s got a stellar line-up of A-list teen authors, many who write urban fantasy/paranormal romance. However, there were enough stories in this anthology that I either didn’t like or felt “meh” about that I can’t say it’s a wholly successful collection. Yes, the vampires in the stories are diverse, ranging from terrifying to romantic to just plain folks, and the lore (whether they combust in sunshine, look beautiful or hideous, can or can not turn into bats, etc.) varies from story to story as well, but that’s not enough to make this whole collection a stand-out.

One of the best stories is titled, very appropriately, “Undead is Very Hot Right Now”. In this story, by Sarah Rees Brennan (author of The Demon’s Lexicon), Chris is a half-hearted member of the boy band, 4TheLuv. And oh, he’s also a vampire (or what the band’s publicist refers to as the “gimmick”, meaning she forces him to wear a cape in public so that he can do “that vampire thing”). In addition to poking fun at the music industry, boy bands, the media, rabid fangirl groupies, and vampires, Brennan also writes a rather melancholy little love story about Chris falling for a fan and how their expectations of one another conflict (he wants her to help him feel more human, but she wants him to be more of a vampire). Chris’s voice is dry and snarky while also being painfully vulnerable, so the story manages to be both hilarious and poignant. It’s one of the only funny stories in the anthology so it really stands out.

My other favorite story is “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown”, a very dark story about life after a pandemic turned thousands of people into vampires. The only way to stop spreading the infection and also deal with the rise of vampires, who still want their political rights, was to create segregated areas called Coldtowns. While the Coldtown broadcast on television looks like an endless party, Matilda refuses to give in when she is infected. The virus lasts 88 days, and if she can stop herself from drinking blood for that long, she will remain human. With only a short time left to go, however, a friend tells her that his sister and Matilda’s boyfriend have entered Coldtown looking for her, and he asks her to save his sister. Matilda, worried about her boyfriend, decides to drink blood and die in order to enter Coldtown, but once she’s there she finds out some terrible truths. This story has a perfect ending, shocking, gritty, and meaningful all in one.

My other favorite stories in this anthology:
“The Thirteenth Step” by Libba Bray is about a girl who takes a secretarial job at a halfway house for troubled teens and, despite loving the people she meets, starts to worry about what goes on in the “detox” area late at night.

“All Hallows” by Rachel Caine is a Morganville Vampire story that mixes humor and action in equal amounts. Eve has to come to her vampire boyfriend’s rescue when he is supposedly kinapped, but of course nothing is that simple.

“Ambition” by Lili St. Crow is a nuanced portrayal of a very lonely girl who is presented with a disturbing moral dilemma when she meets Johnny, who may or may not be a vampire. It has an ambiguous and yet disturbing ending, and it’s one of those stories you have to think about for a while before you can let it go.

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