Saturday, February 15, 2014

VAMPIRES, an Anthology by Jane Yolen

The rather uninformatively titled VAMPIRES (1991), edited by Jane Yolen and Martin H. Greenberg, although nominally a YA anthology, contains excellent stories to appeal to vampire fans of any age from early teens on up. Authors include such distinguished names as Yolen herself, Delia Sherman, Charles de Lint, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and Esther M. Friesner, among others. Husband-wife team of James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle creates a chilling short piece, “Nobody Has to Know,” written entirely in dialogue. Friesner’s characteristically funny “The Blood-Ghoul of Scarsdale” introduces a vampire lurking at the mall, seen through the eyes of a shopaholic teenage girl. Another humorous story, “Curse of the Undead,” by Chuck Rothman, begins with the narrator waking up in a coffin. In “Aunt Horrible’s Last Visit,” by Jeff Hecht, the children in a family try to get rid of their horrible Aunt Hortense, “who always came in early June, just like the blackflies,” and discover she’s even worse than they’d realized.

My favorites: Jane Yolen’s poignant tale “Mama Gone,” set in the mountain hollows of the Appalachians, is told by a girl whose mother, having died in childbirth, has come back to prey on her family and neighbors. The narrator bravely confronts her undead mother to send her on to her rightful destination. This tale has a strong folkloric feel. “Blood Libel,” by Leigh Ann Hussey, stars a young Jewish man in medieval Europe who finds himself transformed into a vampire and struggles to remain a good Jew despite the Torah’s prohibition against drinking blood. A kind rabbi takes him in, and the vampire becomes protector of the synagogue.

Featuring both old-style and modern vampires, evil, good, and in-between, these thirteen stories explore a wide range of the genre’s possibilities.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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