It’s a GENRE?!
So I’ve finished Real Vampires Have Curves (more detailed review is forthcoming). There were bits that worked, but overall the book squandered the potential inherent in having a lead character who is a 400 year old vampire. If you’re going to have such a character as a lead, I don’t care how many Sex and the City episodes she watches to assimilate, a 400 year old vampire isn’t just a Carrie Bradshaw or Bridget Jones with fangs.
Dead and Dateless? Real Vampires Hate Their Thighs (another Glory St. Claire book)? I’m a Vampire That’s Why? Curious, in the way car wrecks attract onlookers, I clicked on Dead and Dateless. The description, as per Amazon:
The sassiest vampire in all of Manhattan, Lil Marchette, is the owner of Dead End Dating–a matchmaking service for hip, intelligent singles like herself. After only three months, business is booming, and she can finally pay her bills (or, more important, feed a hungry cosmetics addiction). But when one of her clients turns up dead (as in never coming back), Lil is named as the prime suspect.
Sure, she’s a vampire, but she can’t even work up her nerve when it comes to blood-sucking. Hacking somebody to pieces is so out of the question.
To make matters worse, Lil must also contend with a pack of werewolves who ask–no, demand–that she find each one a tall, dark, and handsome mate before the next full moon. Plus, the to-die-for-if-I wasn’t-already-dead Ty Bonner, a lusciously sexy lover but totally unsuitable eternity mate, is never far from her midnight fantasies. But Lil has no time for such thoughts. She must prove her innocence and focus on pairing off the dead and the furry–and maybe stake a claim to her own tasty true love.
A cosmetics addiction? The sassiest vampire in all of Manhattan? What the what?! And it’s Book 2?!
So I scroll down the LibraryThing page further to see what else it recommends for lovers of the sassiest cosmetic addict in Manhattan. I’m greeted with this:
Not only are there a plethora of girl meets ghoul books (where the girl is occasionally a ghoul), but pretty much every book listed is part of a series.
Be Still My Vampire Heart is Book 3 in the Love at Stake series (first book: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, published in the summer 2005).
Bite Me If You Can is Book 6 in the Argeneau Vampire series (first book: A Quick Bite, published in fall of 2005).
If you click on all the books listed under the LibraryThing recommendations, you’ll find most of these book series began somewhere between mid 2005 and 2006. What other books were released around this time?
For the record, the Amazon Review of the fifth book of the series, A Bite to Remember features this gem:
This enjoyable combination of mystery, paranormal fantasy, and romance will appeal to readers who relish cozy vampire stories featuring characters with a true nobility of spirit. Diana Tixier Herald.
Well, Diana Tixier Herald, I think you zeroed in on why this genre doesn’t appeal to me (and my main issue with Real Vampires Have Curves). Whatever bits of the mythology of the vampire you decide to keep or discard, there are certain things that are nonnegotiable. Vampires are immortal walking corpses. Maybe they are eloquent, sexually skilled* immortal walking corpses, but immortal walking corpses none the less. They need to drink blood (or the appropriate blood substitute) to survive. They have fangs! None of these things would lead me to the word “cozy.” If you want to have a vampire in your story, fine. But have a vampire. Don’t call your character a vampire (especially a centuries old vampire), then strip away any characterization that would come with being a (possibly centuries old) vampire. Hell, even Stephanie Meyer knew that having immortal bloodsucking (albeit “vegetarian”) vampires needed to, pardon my pun,** have fangs.***
* Vampires as sex god(desse)s is something that goes back at least to the Dracula and Carmilla novels.
** Considering all the plays on words featured in these titles (Date Me Baby One More Time? Tall Dark and Fangsome?), a pun seems appropriate here.
*** Of course, there’s plenty of other vampire mythology that Meyer discarded (sparkling in sunlight? really? the weakness in sunlight is one of the baselines). But at least she acknowledges that being an immortal walking corpse does have its share of angst.