Teeth: Vampire Tales is, as I’m sure you can guess, a collection of vampire short stories. This particular anthology is for young adults, which made me a bit nervous at first. I read a lot of anthologies, but never any for teens and I was expecting an entire book of lame stories about cheesy teen/vampire romances and whatnot – but I was way off. Teeth: Vampire Tales delivered the unexpected and surprised me in the best of ways.
The second I opened the book I was pleasantly surprised by the spectacular introduction. I usually skip over anthology intros because, well, they’re boring. But Ellen Datlow’s intro in Teeth was packed full of info on vampire history and folklore, which filled me with all kinds of happy. That happiness grew more and more as I continued reading through story after story.
The stories in this collection are excellent, I was expecting mindless teenage garbage, but the tales were remarkably well-written, highly innovative and captivating. I was surprised at how much thought each author put into their story, the majority of them were intelligent and full of meaning and purpose. The stories weren’t meant to just entertain you, but to make you think as well. As an added bonus, many authors mixed actual vampire folklore into their stories, and since I’m a folklore junkie I absolutely loved it.
One of the things I found most impressive in this collection was that the author’s stayed true to their audience – teenagers. Any teen who reads this book will be able to relate to at least one of the stories. That’s what I thought was amazing. On top of being highly entertaining and thought-provoking reads, they also touch on big teens issues that speak to younger readers. Homosexuality, suicide, depression, parental issues… etc. were all brought up in this book. Teeth covered many teen issues today and put them in a kickass vampire setting. So this book gets loads of bonus points for that.
As for the stories themselves, I loved too many to list, but a few that stick out in my mind are Vampire Weather by Garth Nix and In The Future All’s Well by Catherynne M. Valente. Nix’s was a fantastic and creative story set in a world where vampires are known to exist. The story followed a naïve religious boy who gets a very rude awakening when he learns about the outside world he has been sheltered from. Valente’s story put such a big smile on my face because she did something I have never read before – she took very old vampire creation beliefs, placed them in a modern setting and made them all true! Loved it! Hundreds of years ago people actually believed that an animal jumping over a corpse or death by drowning created a vampire (read more on that here) and in this story all of those old beliefs are true. It was excellent! Why Light? by Tanith Lee was another one I loved, it was a beautiful and enchanting tale.
Now, like all anthologies, some of the stories aren’t so great. None of them were straight up bad, but some weren’t good either, they were just blah. That’s to be expected. However, there was one story about halfway through the book that was so incredibly dark and morbid I wonder what the hell possessed the editor to include it. It was so out of place with the rest of the stories, I was shocked. Yes, it was very well written, but it would have been better for an adult horror anthology. Children being slaughtered isn’t really fitting in a young adult anthology.
Other than a few duds here and there, Teeth: Vampire Tales was excellent. I highly suggest picking this one up and giving it a read, it may be directed at teens, but adults can enjoy it as well (I did).