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Paperbacks from Heck: pre-Twilight Vampires

Inspired by Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell, this series of blog posts will highlight the 90s teen horror explosion. Get ready for neon covers, insane plot twists, and plenty of nostalgia!

Long before Edward Cullen was a sparkle in Stephenie Meyer’s eye, vampires were rampant in teen horror. They were rampant in adult horror, too, but didn’t arrive in the teen section en masse until the 1990s.

Paperbacks from Heck: Pre-Twilight Vampires

Vampire siblings

The deadly power of love…

The most well-known vampires in the 1990s were, of course, Stefan and Damon Salvatore of The Vampire Diaries. These tall, dark, and handsome brothers are pretty well-known these days, too, but the Stefan and Damon from the books are quite different from those in the TV series. I’m Team Damon, but in the books… let’s just say that at one point, Damon is possessed by a tree. He also traps Stefan down a well and would have succeeded with this nefarious plan had Elena not come along to give Stefan some of her blood.

Never mind that Elena is turned into a vampire, then dies and exists as a ghost/angel for several more books after that…

The Vampire Diaries series has two lives. The first were the original novels written by L.J. Smith, that were sold to Alloy Entertainment for the purposes of the TV series. As in, the characters became the property of the company and not the author. And because Smith’s vampire world had a different plot, she was actually fired from writing her own series. She later continued writing her Vampire Diaries on Kindle Worlds (an Amazon publisher for fanfiction).

Their one chance for survival is to stay together.

There are other vampire siblings out there, like the Vampire Twins by Janice Harrell (1994). Paul and Anne Marie Montclair are fraternal twins who must leave their life in New Orleans behind after their mother’s death to go live with their Aunt Gabrielle. Aunt Gabrielle doesn’t eat much, sleeps all day, and likes to go jogging at night. Whatever could be wrong with her? The reader already knows what’s up and what’s going to happen, since the series is called… uh… VAMPIRE TWINS.

Sexy rock ‘n’ roll vampires

The Band (1994) & Song of the Vampire (1996) by Carmen Adams take a cue from Lost Boys and The Vampire Lestat, where the members of a rock band are actually undead. They aren’t quite vampires, but they’re sort of immortal and drink wine that allows them to come out in the daylight. Rock vampires are the ultimate sexy vamps. My only question is: if they’re immortal and have all the time in the world, why couldn’t they come up with a better name for their band than “The Band”?

Susan’s love could kill her…

Our next book also involves a vampire band, with a way better name. Vampire’s Kiss (1994), one of Nicholas Adams’s non-Horror High novels, is about a girl named Susan who is warned about a vampire band by a dude on TV. I’m not kidding. The band is called Blood Brothers – I see what you did there – and one of the band members, Bishop, does his darndest to seduce Susan.

Sexy, jealous vampires

Vampires are so sexy, there are two more books with the title Vampire’s Kiss.

The Vampire’s Kiss (1995), is one of the Nightmare Hall series, and wasn’t actually written by Diane Hoh. The actual author was Nora Thacker, who wrote under the pseudonym D.E. Athkins.

The heroine of The Vampire’s Kiss, Janie, recently lost her boyfriend. All she wants to do is mope about it, even though other guys on campus pursue her, including a dude with the awesome nickname “Stretch.” After taking a walk with Stretch, Janie is attacked by bats, and later that night she awakens to find her dead boyfriend Lucas at the door. Later she gets attacked by wolves too, no big deal, nothing to worry about! Enter another mysterious stranger, Bram – you’d think this is a reference to Bram Stoker and that Bram is also a vampire, but there you would be wrong! Janie dates a few other guys, and they end up fighting, then one of them reveals his true face to be that of Lucas. Apparently Lucas got killed by a vampire and became one himself, and he was so enraged that he started attacking all of Janie’s new boyfriends. Happily, Janie makes the right choice in the end. As in, she kills Lucas and dates Bram.

She’ll need all her power to resist – The Vampire’s Kiss

The Vampire’s Kiss (1992) is #7 in The Power series by Jesse Harris. The cover definitely has a Dracula vibe going on.

Now, I’ve only read one book in The Power series (The Catacombs, which is #6), but the main character, McKenzie, is psychic. One would think she’d be able to resist any mind games a vampire would be playing. I do wonder what McKenzie’s boyfriend from book 6 thinks about this sexy vamp coming after his girlfriend…

You may have noticed a theme here, wherein most of the vampires are dudes. In fact, the only female vamp so far has been one of the Vampire Twin siblings. Janice Harrell contributed another female vamp to the list with her Vampire’s Love duology. Blood Curse and Blood Spell (both 1995) feature a female vampire named Rina who’s just trying to find love. Unfortunately, she picks James, who has a girlfriend. And Chelsea is more than willing to bargain with Rina’s ex, Vlad, to get him back.

Sexy, sexy… um… incest?

It’s the kiss of death…

Richie Tankersley Cusick’s novel Vampire (1991) introduces a unique dilemma. Darcy moves in with her dashing Uncle Jake, who runs the Dungeon of Horrors. As bodies with strange bite marks pile up, Darcy can’t seem to control her hormones, and yes, even seems interested in her hot uncle. As so often happens, this is a case of Just Kidding Incest, where Jake turns out not to be her uncle. But still. Get a hold of yourself, Darcy!

Not so sexy vampires

Like most of Christopher Pike’s heroines, Alisa of The Last Vampire series is a tall, blonde bombshell. However, she’s a stone-cold killer. Almost immediately she kills a private investigator, then goes after his son Ray (presumably to protect him, but her first action is to seduce him away from his girlfriend, so there’s that). In usual Christopher Pike style, the story of the 5,000-year-old Alisa/Lara/Sita (she goes by all three names over the course of the first book) ends up involving ancient Sanskrit mythology, rockets, and plenty of ass kicking.

I’m not sure where this Martian cave is, because it’s definitely not in the story.

Based on the revival of this series during the Twilight craze, you’d think there was some deep undying love that was happening between Sita and Ray (who she turns into a vampire), but he quickly dies in book 2. She hooks up with an FBI agent named Joel almost immediately after, and turns him into a vampire, but in book 3 Joel gets kidnapped and presumably dies because he’s not in the rest of the books – although Ray returns just in time to impregnate Sita in book 4 with her very own Resnesmee (is Kalika a better name?) who is basically the vampire Antichrist. Then Ray disappears again. Sita ends the series boyfriend-less.

And even though the re-release of The Last Vampire series as Thirst included two new novels, Sita doesn’t get any more romantic. There are more aliens and body-switching. True to form for Pike, but not quite the Twilight readalike I’m sure his publisher hoped for.

Remember when vampires weren’t emo? Ah, those were the days. What were your favorite teen vampires from the 90s?

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