Another precursor of the YA vampire romances so abundant now, THE SILVER KISS (1990), by Annette Curtis Klause, isn’t strictly a romance but definitely a passionate, tender love story, although with touches of horror. Teenage heroine Zoe’s mother is dying of cancer. While her mother lies in the hospital, Zoe has to take care of the house and her father, from whom she becomes steadily more disconnected. To make her isolation worse, her best friend is about to move away. While brooding in the park one evening, she meets Simon, a boy with an intuitive awareness of the shadow of death on her thoughts. Despite his reticence about his past, she finds him compellingly attractive and sympathetic. From scenes in Simon’s viewpoint, we learn he’s a vampire long before Zoe does. An ethical monster, he resists killing his human prey and feeds on animals as much as possible, although they can’t satisfy his hunger in the long term. He fights his attraction to Zoe, unsuccessfully of course. He tells her the truth about himself around the middle of the novel. Born in seventeenth-century England, he lost his older brother, then about six years old, to a vampire. Their mother later died of a vampire’s attack, so Simon shares with Zoe the experience of losing a mother. Simon reveals that the recent mysterious killings in town have been perpetrated by his brother, Christopher, a vicious monster forever trapped in the body of a small boy. Klause portrays Christopher as an effectively creepy child vampire with a unique use for the teddy bear he carries everywhere. Love grows between Simon and Zoe, and at her urging he determines to destroy Christopher.
A conflict between two vampire brothers, good and evil, was a fairly fresh theme when THE SILVER KISS appeared. Making the older, stronger brother look smaller and weaker gives the premise an interesting twist. Simon’s first taste of Zoe’s blood comes across as entrancing and erotic without letting her or the reader forget the potential danger. Still more romantic, though, is the scene where he pleads with her for “Just a kiss. A real kiss,” and they briefly imagine they can share love like an ordinary couple. Through knowing Simon, Zoe gains new strength to face her mother’s illness.
Klause also wrote a YA werewolf novel, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE (1997), which has a movie based on it.
Margaret L. Carter