Sunday, April 15, 2018

Teeth

Although the YA anthology TEETH (2011), edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, isn't very old, it may have been overlooked by many vampire fans, so if you didn't notice it upon publication, do check it out. All the contents except a poem by Neil Gaiman first published in 2008 consist of eighteen stories (and one other poem) original to this volume. The editors' introduction gives an overview of vampire folklore and classic fiction, with a quick survey of the most influential twentieth- and twenty-first-century works. Contributors include luminaries such as Suzy McKee Charnas (author of THE VAMPIRE TAPESTRY), Ellen Kushner, Melissa Marr, Lucius Shepard, Emma Bull, Delia Sherman, and Tanith Lee.

Some highlights: One of my favorites, naturally, is Charnas's "Late Bloomer," which departs from the ancient, naturally evolved vampire of her novel to explore the traditional undead. Aspiring musician Josh, while working in his cousin's antique shop, gets entangled with a pair of vampire antique collectors, a woman and a teenage girl. He learns that a vampire turned in her teens never matures, remaining young mentally as well as physically. When circumstances force him to become a vampire himself, he discovers firsthand the poignant truth that the undead love beauty and the arts but have no creative spark of their own. In "The Perfect Dinner Party," Cassandra Clare and Holly Black portray a young vampire putting her master's lessons into practice while "entertaining" a human girl brought home by the protagonist's brother. "Things to Know About Being Dead," by Genevieve Valentine, rather than featuring a European-style vampire, comprises the first-person experience of a girl who has recently become a jiang-shi, a creature whose soul can't escape her body because of her sudden, violent death. To complicate her unlife, the spirit of a male classmate who committed suicide attaches himself to her. In "Sit the Dead," by Jeffrey Ford, young protagonist Luke has to take a turn watching over a newly dead girl, who of course rises as a vampire and has to be dispatched. The narrator of Tanith Lee's "Why Light?", written in her usual lyrical style, is a seventeen-year-old female of a naturally evolved vampire species, long-lived but not particularly hard to kill. Her people drink both animal and human blood, gently taken without harm to the donors. The heroine, prized for her rare ability to tolerate sunlight so well she could live by day if she wished, resentfully enters an arranged marriage where she perceives herself as valued only for her genes. The story traces the development of her relationship with her light-shunning fiance.

Personally, I don't think much of the anthology's rather bland title, which could refer to many topics other than vampires, including werewolves, sharks, or even dentists. Nevertheless, this is a book no vampire fan should miss.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I've read this anthology before via patronage of my local library, and the stories for "Teeth" are actually really good. Once I have some spending money, I plan to get a copy for myself.