Out to bust stereotypes of moany, moony, moody and thoroughly insufferable Goths is Raven, narrator of Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schrieber. Though the title purports that this book is yet another vampire romance, most of the plot consists of bubbly, impulsive, butt-kicking and cheerfully dark Raven’s attempts to be herself in a school and a town determined to quash her weirdness.
While Raven creates enough excitement in her small town on her own, she also investigates a mysterious new family in town whose possibly vampiric scion, the quiet and sexy Alexander, could be an ally. Class tensions and tensions between the sexes bubble through this story, but Schrieber’s fleet-footed prose never pauses for deep analysis or moral reflection. Instead, we follow Raven in her self-involved, but also amusing and ultimately good-hearted and compassionate, search for a partner in crime.
Vampire Kisses has no pretensions to originality or depth, but I really enjoyed it. Schrieber perfectly captures the voice of a self-aggrandizing, flamboyant, endearing bubble gum Goth. As a teenager trying to stake out a new and different identity, Raven expends way too much energy in bold, unusual acts designed to make her appear truly original and memorable, but she does not seem insecure. Rather, she seems possessed of so much energy that she just explodes with it, ignorant of the fact that one doesn’t have to be super-duper dramatic all the time in order to be oneself. I find Raven very refreshing because she has an unshakable and positive knowledge of herself, her personality and her desires. I am so sick of self-loathing characters who must learn to believe in themselves that I am very happy to read about a character — a teenaged girl, no less, member of a cohort not known for supernal levels of confidence! — who evinces self-confidence and strength from the get-go.
P.S. I started Dead Until Dark, but it was so…very…dull… So I couldn’t finish it.