Pre-Twilight of the Vampires

You kids and your Moroi and your Cullens and all your vampire schools… *shakes stake* Did you really think you invented vampires in high school? When I was in high school vampires had been there for years! And I’m not just talking about all the Buffy the Vampire Slayer books either!

*shakes stake again* Get outta my coffin!

Seriously though, despite what articles by non-readers of YA would have you believe vampires have been in high school for years. As a trend vampires never really die, they just rest for a while, and the rush after Twilight was just another example of vampires in fiction waking up and walking around looking for their next snack. There were plenty of vampire books around before they were declared the new hot thing in the late 2000s, and they’re still around after the trend was declared dead as dust.

So as a lover of all things vampire I thought I would take you on a tour of older YA vampire fiction. Although many of these did fall out of print they were reissued in bind-ups and/or with new covers in the wake of Twilight‘s popularity.


The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith (1991-2)

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A Love Triangle of Unspeakable Horror…

Elena: Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan.

Stefan: Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion.

Damon: Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him.

The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

When the television show The Vampire Diaries was announced, many were up in arms, proclaiming it to be a Twilight rip-off. Unless L.J. Smith has a time machine, that’s impossible. The Vampire Diaries not only precedes Twilight, it beats 2001’s Dead Until Dark (aka the book True Blood is based on) and even the first Anita Blake book (1993).

The Cheerleader by Caroline B. Cooney (1991)

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Cheerleaders are beautiful, popular and exciting – girls that Althea longs to be. But Althea is nobody – she gets no phone calls, shares no laughter and has no friends. Then one day she meets him, a vampire who offers to make her a cheerleader in exchange for a simple bargain.

Soon Althea has everything she desires: beauty, friends, success. But Althea wants more – and she’ll do anything to get it…

Horror was big during the 90s, and the Point Horror line was leading the charge. They did EVERYTHING, and in 1991 Caroline B. Cooney put out The Cheerleader. The Cheerleader had two sequels: Return of the Vampire (1992) and The Vampire’s Promise (1993).

The Silver Kiss by Anette Curtis Klause (1992)

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Zoe is wary when, in the dead of night, the beautiful yet frightening Simon comes to her house. Simon seems to understand the pain of loneliness and death and Zoe’s brooding thoughts of her dying mother.

Simon is one of the undead, a vampire, seeking revenge for the gruesome death of his mother three hundred years before. Does Simon dare ask Zoe to help free him from this lifeless chase and its insufferable loneliness?

Fun fact: Although they didn’t sparkle in daylight, the vampires of The Silver Kiss did have a sparkle/shine in the moonlight.

Bonus fun fact: Klause’s werewolf book, Blood and Chocolate, had a movie adaptation which starred Bibliodaze favourite, Hugh Dancy.

Look For Me By Moonlight by Mary Downing Hahn (1995)

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When the mysterious Vincent Morthanos arrives to stay at her father’s inn, 16-year-old Cynda is mesmerized. His charm and sensitivity are irresistible. His attentiveness is constant. Cynda’s sure she’s in love. Daring to hope that the stranger shares her feelings, Cynda is innocently blind to who he really is–or to the terrible danger of coming under his spell.

Hahn is another example of a prolific author: Look For Me By Moonlight is her 16th novel, and she’s written as many more since.

Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde (1995)

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When Kerry’s little brother forgets his stuffed bear at the laundry, Kerry ventures out at 11:00 p.m. to retrieve it for him. The laundry is deserted and kind of spooky, and while she’s there three men burst in, dragging a bound and bloodied young man they insist is a vampire. Kerry helps him escape, only to be caught up in a desperate game between vampire hunters and their prey.

The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike (1994-6)

[su_inset_right imagealt=”The Last Vampire” imageurl=”” credits=”The Last Vampire”] From a popular spinner of scary tales for young adult readers comes a wonderfully terrifying new novel about Alisa, a 5,000-year-old vampire, who is being hunted by an unknown entity. In order to identify her pursuer, she must enter high school and befriend a shy boy who will attract her as no mortal ever has.

Another big 90s horror writer, one of Pike’s bigger series blended action, bloodshed, romance and mythology with Pike’s signature weirdness. (Pike fans will probably know what I mean).

Also, Alisa probably wins the award for oldest high school student.

The Night World by L.J Smith (1996-8)

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The diagnosis for Poppy was death. there was no hope–until James, her best friend and secret love, appeared in the hospital. But this was a James she didn’t know. He offered Poppy eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World. They’re soulmates–but can she follow him into death and beyond?

The Night World was a series about humans falling in love with beings of the Night World (vampires, witches, shapeshifters etc.) with the majority being human-vampire romances. The timing means some references can be a bit funny: in The Chosen Rashel is a vampire hunter who falls in love with a vampire and is even likened to Buffy. Only this was after the movie and before the TV show (and thus the Angel romance) came about. Hee.

In The Forests of The Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (1999)

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By day, Risika sleeps in shaded room in Concord, Massachusetts. By night, she hunts the streets of New York City. She is used to being alone.

But someone is following Risika. He has left her a black rose, the same sort of rose that sealed her fate three hundred years ago. Three hundred years ago Risika had a family- a brother and a father who loved her. Three hundred years ago she was human.

Now she is a vampire, a powerful one. But her past has come back to torment her.

In The Forests of The Night was published when the author was just fourteen years old, and was followed by another eight books. Now thirty, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has published over a dozen YA books, with more to come.

The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein (2002)

[su_inset_right imagealt=”The Moth Diaries” imageurl=”” credits=”The Moth Diaries”] In the hothouse atmosphere of an exclusive girls’ boarding school during the late sixties, political activism, social revolution, and the war in Vietnam might never have happened. Nothing existed outside the girls and the school where it was all too easy to confuse fantasy and reality; friendship and lust; dreaming and wakefulness. And just as easy for the unnamed narrator, isolated with her increasingly obsessive musings, to imagine that a schoolmate was slowly destroying her friend and roommate. But what was the truth? That Ernessa was a vampire responsible not only for Lucy’s mysterious and wasting illness but for a series of other disasters at the school as well? Or that the narrator, fragile and unstable, had intricately constructed her own gothic nightmare? Thirty years later, rereading her journal, she is no more certain than we are.

While a lot of vampire novels owe a debt to Dracula, The Moth Diaries is much more in the vein (ha) of Carmilla. It’s an obsessive tale of friendship and female sexuality and was turned into a movie by Mary Harron in 2011.

Dangerous Girls by R.L. Stine (2003)

[su_inset_right imagealt=”Dangerous Girls” imageurl=”” credits=”Dangerous Girls”] Destiny Weller and her twin sister, Livvy, return from their summer vacation with an overpowering thirst –– an inhuman desire to drink blood.

Have they turned into vampires?

How will they keep their horrifying secret from their family and friends?

And can they find a way to become human again … before it’s too late?

Although he’s probably best known for his children’s horror series Goosebumps, R.L. Stine has written many YA novels – including multiple vampire stories.

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber (2003-12)

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The mansion on top of Benson Hill has been empty and boarded up for years. But a new family has moved in. A family that never ventures out during the day. Who are these creepy people — especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town gossip actually be true? Are they vampires?

Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own mortality and Alexander’s loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.

In 2007 the Vampire Kisses series received a manga adaptation which was published by TokyoPop. After TokyoPop’s closure HarperCollins picked up the rights and replaced the artist.

Bloodline by Kate Carey (2005)

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Thirty-five years have passed since the death of the Master. But now a new evil walks among the living. . . . When nineteen-year-old John Shaw returns from the trenches of World War I, he is haunted by nightmares—not only of the battlefield, but of the strange, cruel and impossible feats of his regiment’s commander, Quincey Harker. Harker’s ferocity knows no limits, and his strength is superhuman.

At first John blames his bloody nightmares on trench fever. But when Harker appears in England and begins wooing John’s sister, John must confront the truth—and stop Harker from continuing Dracula’s bloodline.

Bloodline just manages to sneak onto this list, having been published about two months before Twilight was. If this book looks familiar it’s because it appeared on our list of YA Spin-Offs of Classic Novels.


And there you have it. 12 YA vampire novels published before Twilight hit the shelves. How many of these have you read? How many did you not even know about?

Credits: GoodReads and The L.J. Smith Cover Resource.

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