Subscribe to The Horn Book


I’m currently appreciating Teeth: Vampire Tales (HarperCollins), an upcoming short story anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. The big-name contributors such as Neil Gaiman, Ellen Kushner, Holly Black, Tanith Lee, and Garth Nix initially caught my attention, but it’s refreshing to find tales by authors I haven’t read before (Suzy McKee Charnas, Steve Berman) or haven’t read in this genre (Cecil Castellucci, Delia Sherman). With series like Twilight, House of Night, Vampire Academy, Vampire Kisses, and Vampire Diaries running at a minimum of four volumes each (often more like six or seven), sometimes vampire fiction feels as endless and unchanging as its undead protagonists. Short stories by new voices make for a nice change.

The Fledgling Handbook 101 by P.C. Cast and Kim Doner (St. Martin’s Griffin) is a “nonfiction” companion to P.C. and Kristin Cast’s “vampyre” boarding school series, House of Night. Purportedly a student handbook for incoming first-years (think J.K. Rowling’s “textbooks” Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), The Fledgling Handbook covers history of the vampyre race, what to expect during one’s vampyre transformation, school rules and traditions. Journal sections allow the student to chronicle accomplishments and adventures while at the school. Cast and Doner create lore for the pseudo-Wiccan magic-wielding vampyres from human history and mythology, recasting monarchs, gods and goddesses, and artists as vampyres. Did you know Cleopatra, Boudicca, and Hippolyta were “Nightkind”? No? What about Cicero, Sappho, and Shakespeare? Clearly you weren’t paying attention in world history.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.



  1. Debbie Reese says:

    >Reading one of the books by the Cast's, I found some plagiarism. Their "Cherokee" ritual came right from a new age website. Churning them out at that rate, apparently, means lifting text from the web!

  2. Crowfeather says:

    I am constantly amazed by your ability to find fault. Please enlighten us with more words of wisdom.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind