Raise your hand if you’re planning on seeing the last part of the Twilight saga this month. Hmm…quite a few hands out there!
Although Stephanie Meyer’s vampires might be the most popular crowd of undead out there, they are not the first blood-suckers to grace the world of YA books. Vampire legends go back hundreds of years; and although Dracula was arguably the most famous literary vampire, there were other books that came before his 1897 debut.
Twilight is just the latest in a line of vampire books that goes back over a hundred years. Some current favorites came before Edward was even a sparkle in Meyer’s eyes. Books like L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries, Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses, Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak, several books by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and one of my old favorites: The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause.
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Zoe’s life has been nothing but chaos for over a year. When she gets home from school, her house is empty, and she just knows that her mother is in the hospital again. When the phone rings, she’s afraid it might be her father, calling to tell her that it’s too late. But instead, it’s her best friend Lorraine. Calling to tell her that her father has gotten a new job and that the family is moving across the country.
Lorraine has always been Zoe’s refuge…the person who will talk to her and help her get through dealing with her mother’s health issues. What is she going to do without her? Zoe tries to talk to her father, but he’s too preoccupied. Zoe’s mother would understand…but if Zoe’s mother was there, she wouldn’t need Lorraine.
Simon is beautiful. Silver hair, pale skin and dark eyes. And an unfortunate appetite for blood. Rat’s blood, mostly. It’s how he gets by. Animal blood only lasts so long though, and he’s due for a bigger kill to survive. So he waits, and watches.
Zoe and Simon meet by accident in a park near the hospital. As they come together more frequently and talk, they realize that the thing they have in common is the pain and loneliness of death. Their lives (so to speak) become more wrapped up in each other.
As Zoe’s mother takes a turn for the worse, bad news seems to haunt their town. A serial killer seems to be on the loose, and there have been several suspicious deaths. Zoe wonders when she sees Simon with blood on his hands. As Simon’s deadly mission becomes clear to Zoe, her mother starts losing her battle. Zoe turns to Simon for support, and he tells her the truth about himself…and a secret that could change her life. And her mother.
Will Simon be able to help her? Or will Zoe help him? As a deadly enemy stealthily approaches, Simon and Zoe will have to learn how to trust and accept each other.
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The Silver Kiss was written in 1990, well before Bella and Edward appeared in libraries and bookstores. Their relationship is based on a mutual need and fear. The Silver Kiss blends horror, suspense and romantic longing. Although Zoe and Simon are attracted to each other, their worlds are very, very different. They each have something to offer the other, but if they act on their instincts, it would change them forever.
When the book came out, it was one of the first vampire novels written expressly for teens. It was praised as a “darkly seductive thriller with heart and a message”. Annette Curtis Klause’s writing was praised as fluid and graceful, and was called “a well-drawn, powerful and seductive novel.” Unlike the vampire novels of this millenium, The Silver Kiss is short; only 198 pages. It’s a wonderful read, and the final image will stay with the reader for a very long time.
The paperback version of The Silver Kiss that was released in 2009 includes two additional short stories–one about Simon during The Summer of Love, the second about Zoe, a year after the novel, dealing with A Christmas Cat. Both short stories expand on what makes Simon and Zoe tick, and what draws them to each other.
The Silver Kiss is in our Young Adult section, and is appropriate for middle and high school students. It is short, but there’s a lot packed into the story! If you’re looking for a vampire book with heart, or if you’ve read all the Twilight books are are looking for something that will stay with you, try The Silver Kiss. You’ll be glad you did.