Vampires: The Recent Undead
Edited by Paula Guran
Prime Books (June, 2011)
Guran's introduction gives an excellent history of the evolution of the vampire story from Bram Stoker's Dracula to the present day. All stories in this anthology were written by a variety of talented fantasy authors between 2000 and early 2010 and have appeared in other collections. Although each selection centers on the vampire there are a diversity of themes.
The first story, "The Coldest Girl in Cold Town" by Holly Black provides a bleak look at what it means to trade your humanity for immortality and a constant thirst for blood. On the other hand Tanya Huff's heroine Vicki Nelson (from the Blood Books series) has accepted the vampire life without ever giving up her compassion or generosity. In fact in the story "No Matter Where You Go", Vicki unselfishly follows three desperate teens into a hellish alternate universe. She may be their only way out. The brilliant Tanith Lee uses her wonderfully bizarre imagination for an unusual take on the vampire theme in "La Vampiresse". Nisi Shawl's "To the Moment" combines the themes of love and the predatory nature of the vampire, while John Langan chills the reader with a horrifying tale of a creature that haunts the lives of four American soldiers recently returned from Iraq in "The Wide Carnivorous Sky". Jeanne C. Stein offers a lovely romance featuring western hero Doc Holliday. And for those who have enjoyed the works of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, an author who has inspired many with her extensive Count Saint Germain historical novels, there is "Gentleman of the Old School".
Writers such as Carrie Vaughn, Kelley Armstrong, Nancy Kilpatrick, Kim Newman and many others are well represented. This collection will appeal to readers of the vampire genre as well as fantasy in general.
[A version of this review appeared in Library Journal which sent me an arc of the book for review. I feel so lucky to be a reviewer for LJ. I have discovered many wonderful authors I would not have known about otherwise.]