This post was written by Suzanne Young, author of In Nightfall.
Why are we so bloodthirsty for vampire stories? Pun intended, yes—I know, stop groaning. But it’s true—few creatures have endured in pop culture as deftly as the vampire. These creatures of the night have been able to flourish in different time periods, in various cultures, and in any location—with, or without, a shirtless saxophone player on the beach. Vampires are enigmatic, alluring, terrifying—and yet, we can’t seem to get enough of their stories. For years, critics have been telling us that vampires are over, but the book-reading public disagrees. The simple fact is that we love vampire stories, whether it’s the promise of everlasting life or love, or a terrifying blood-soaked murder spree, their allure just won’t die. Yeah, sorry. Another pun.
Here are a few of my favorite vampire stories for you to check out.
We have to start with a classic, because honestly, without DRACULA by Bram Stoker, I’m not sure we can really define the lore as we know it today. Studied, dissected, and often copied and modernized, it’s an enduring classic for reasons that have nothing to do with Keanu Reeves.
For those who want to swoon while also getting plot-twist whiplash, I highly recommend the addictive BLOOD AND ASH by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Everyone I know is talking about this book, and the word that keeps coming up is “obsessed.”
Some of my favorite authors are included in the bloody-good vampire anthology Vampires Never Get Old, edited by authors Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker.
Is it a true vampire book list without some Buffy? You need to check out IN EVERY GENERATION by Kendare Blake, the first in a new series set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
And for a little fun with fellow horror-enthusiasts, check out MINA AND THE UNDEAD by Amy McCaw to find your people while trying to solve a bunch of brutal supernatural killings.
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Keep reading for an exclusive extract of In Nightfall:
he bells on the door jingle as it closes behind me. I look at my brother, perched on a low wall outside the shop. He’s already done with his ice cream and is eating the bottom
of his waffle cone, oblivious to the layers of humiliation I just went through. When he sees me staring, he frowns.
“You good?” Marco asks.
“Didn’t you see them go in?” I ask, motioning toward the shop.
“See who?” Confused, he glances back into the window. It takes a moment, but then his mouth drops open and he ducks. “Oh, shit,” he says. “Are those the hitchhikers?”
“Yeah,” I say, waving for him to stand up. “And the girl recognized me. Luckily she was cool about it.”
“Awkward,” Marco says, widening his eyes. He finishes his ice cream, wipes his mouth with a napkin, and then tosses it into a metal trash can next to the curb.
“She’s from here, I guess,” I tell him. “Annemarie is her name. The cashier knows her, but she didn’t seem all that happy to see her.”
Marco looks back at me, intrigued. “Huh,” he says.
I shrug. “Small-town shit, I guess.” I take a tentative spoonful of my sorbet. It’s delicious, tart and bright. Erika definitely hooked me up with a good choice.
Marco looks down the hill toward the promenade. “Should we check out the water?” he asks. “Not sure how much longer we have before it gets dark.”
“Well, I already broke the other rule.” I hike my thumb back at the ice cream shop. “Don’t talk to strangers,” I repeat, and we both laugh. Our grandmother is definitely paranoid.
Marco and I head toward the water, people weaving their way around us on the sidewalk, hurrying up the hill. As we pass a small independent bookstore, a large display in the window catches my attention. There is a huge stack of blue-and-white hardcover novels, a smattering of f lower petals on a white cloth underneath them, and a banner that reads Olivia Miles—USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF RED BLOODED SUMMER. I pause to look at the book, recognizing the author’s name immediately. I’ve never read her romance novels, but my mom kept a stack of them on her nightstand when she still lived at home. The memory stings a little.
Next to the display is a picture of Olivia, along with a news- paper clipping. Apparently, she’s local. Although I wonder how romantic summers in Nightfall, Oregon, can really get.
When I turn to Marco to point out the famous local author, I find him a few yards ahead. He’s staring at the other side of the road, wholly distracted. Enamored, even. Curious, I follow his line of vision.
Across the street and down just a little ways is a Catholic church, or at least it used to be, judging by the stained-glass windows and statue of Mary out front. Now there’s a giant billboard that reads Northwest Estates—Condos for sale! with a glossy image of a planned condo development. But it’s not the building that my brother is staring at. It’s the girls.
There are two girls about our age sitting on the low wall under the billboard. Even from here, I can see that they are both beautiful. No, not just beautiful—stunning.
Marco continues walking down the block, watching the girls the entire time. I follow him, intent on telling him to tone it down, but I can’t take my eyes off them either. They’re mesmerizing—straight out of a movie, almost like a spotlight is shining on them.
As we get closer, one of the girls holds up her hand to wave us over. She’s Black with shaved hair, dangling earrings that sparkle in the dim light. She’s wearing a sleeveless yellow dress, even though it’s fairly cold out. The girl next to her is blond and draped in what looks like a vintage red prom gown. She’s grinning, watching us with anticipation.
Marco turns to me and then nods across the street. “Want to go over?” he asks.
I check out the girls again, feeling self-conscious and underdressed. “No, you go ahead,” I tell him. “I’m heading to the beach.”
“Cool,” he says immediately. “I’ll text you in a little bit.” “Uh—”
But Marco dashes across the street before I can even voice that I’m a little offended at how quickly he’s ditching me. He could have at least pretended to debate leaving me behind.
The girls laugh as he walks up to them, one touching his arm, one messing up his curly dark hair. They really are beautiful, like walking Instagram filters with smoothed-out edges.
The girl with the shaved head looks over at me curiously. I don’t want to seem like I’m avoiding them, so I wave and then point to the beach. She smiles and nods like she understands. With that settled, I start toward the water.
For the first time in a long time, I’m alone. It’s kind of . . . nice. I got used to people checking in on me since the divorce, but right now, it’s just me. Well, me and a bunch of tourists. But the crowd thins out the closer I get to the water.
An icy wind blows in off the ocean. I throw out my mostly empty cup of ice cream and f lip up my hood, pulling the strings closed against the chill. Just then, my phone buzzes. I pull it out, guessing it’s Marco or Willa, but the caller ID says Mom. I have a f lash of anger at the idea of her calling from Dale’s house, and I click Ignore and put my phone away.
I know I’ll have to talk to her eventually, but now is not the time. In fact, I might wait until summer is over. It would serve her right—she’s part of the reason we’re banished here.
My shoes scrape over the sand as I cross the promenade roundabout, a narrow beach just beyond it. It’s a far cry from the Southern California beaches that I’m used to visiting. There isn’t much space to lay out, and even if I wanted to, it’s too windy and cold.
There is a stone bench that looks out over the ocean. It’s kind of hidden along a walking path next to the sand, private and decorated with seashells in the concrete. I take a seat, the cold stone chilling me through my jeans. The beach is deserted and it’s a combination of peaceful and eerie. I stay, listening to the waves crash against the shore. I’m angry that my mother tried to call me again. And I’m angry that I’m angry. I look up at the overcast sky—dusk at nine at night . . . so strange.
There’s a f lash of movement as someone sits down next to
me. I turn, expecting my brother, but I jump when I see it’s a stranger. The guy immediately holds up his hands in apology.
“Sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
I don’t respond, staring at him instead as I try to assess his danger level. He’s young, my age at least, with reddish-brown hair and big brown eyes. Long lashes. Sharp jaw. When he smiles, a sheen of beauty drapes right over him. It’s not lost on me that nearly everyone I’ve interacted with in Nightfall so far is attractive, but this guy is . . . well, he’s hard to miss.
“I’m Parrish,” he says. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Meet me?” I reply. “When you sit next to a girl who’s alone without asking, I’m not sure you can call it meeting her.”
“You’re right,” he says apologetically and stands back up. “I’m sorry. I just . . . wanted to see if you were all right. I saw you sitting here and thought you looked kind of pissed off.”
Fair point because it’s true.
I realize then that the strings of my hoodie are still pulled tight, scrunching my face between the fabric. I quickly yank the strings loose and push the hood down, my ears chilled in the cool wind. But at least I don’t look like a total dork anymore.
“Is it okay if I sit here?” Parrish asks, motioning to the bench. I wait a moment, considering, but he seems harmless. “Sure,”
I say with a shrug.
He settles back onto the bench and crosses one foot over the other knee. He watches me curiously, a ghost of a smile on his lips. His eyes sparkle playfully in the fading light.
“I’m Parrish,” he says again as if we’re starting over. “Nice to . . . meet you?” He raises his left eyebrow in anticipation.
I laugh. “You too,” I say. “I’m Theo.” “That’s an unusual name,” he replies.
“Really, Parrish?” I point out, and this time he laughs. “It’s short for Theodora,” I add. “Which is a lot and no one uses it unless I’m in trouble.”
“Understood,” he says. “To be honest, Parrish is my last name.” “What’s your first name?” I ask, curious.
He shakes his head to let me know he’s not going to share. “Let’s just say I’m no Theodora,” he says, settling back against the bench. “And where are you visiting us from?” he asks. “Arizona, I assume?”
His guess catches me off guard, and my heart trips up. “How do you know that?” I ask.
He nods to my sweatshirt, and when I look down, I’m remember that I’m wearing another ASU hoodie. Not exactly rocket science.
“Clearly my observational skills tonight are incredible,” I tell him. “Razor sharp.”
“You could be a spy,” he whispers in agreement.
I can’t help but smile, charmed. “I’m from Tempe,” I tell him. “Just outside of Phoenix.”
“It was an easy guess,” he says. “In Nightfall, tourists love to advertise. They come here wearing their UCLAs, their UNLVs, and, of course, their ASUs.”
“We’re predictable, huh?” I ask.
“In the best way,” he replies. “I have yet to see a local walk around with a Nightfall, Oregon, sweatshirt. Then again, our mascot is the wombat, so I’m not sure it would have the desired effect.”
“The Nightfall Wombats,” I say, and Parrish nods, amused. “Your rivals must be intimidated.”
“Oh yes,” he says. “The Hellcats and Jackals are terrified of us.”
I laugh, promising myself that I’ll look up the mascot later tonight. I bet it’s hilarious.
Now that my initial startlement is gone, Parrish and I ease into conversation, friendly and relaxed. I’m not sure we’re flirting exactly, nothing that obvious. We’re just two strangers talking on a bench next to the ocean. He just happens to be gorgeous. But I don’t feel self-conscious around him, not even in a hoodie and chocolate-stained jeans.
“You’re lucky,” Parrish says, turning to look at the ocean. “It’s usually raining. Maybe a little cold,” he adds. “But I’m sure it’s better than that hundred-and-twenty-degree desert heat.”
“Debatable,” I tell him. “I happen to hate the rain.”
He laughs and turns back to me. “What? Nobody hates the rain.”
“I do,” I reply. “In Arizona, we have monsoon season. And everyone goes wild for it—storms, lightning, rain. But after two days of clouds, I feel low and stay in the house, eating grilled cheese and soup. I don’t know how I’m going to handle the weather here.”
“Enjoy the sun when it comes out,” Parrish suggests. “And stock up on soup.”
We both turn toward the ocean, watching as waves lap against the sand. I’m cold, but I don’t want to stand up. Not yet. For the first time since arriving, I’m not homesick.
“So you grew up here?” I ask, looking sideways at Parrish.
“No,” he says. “But I’ve been here long enough to be a
local. How about you, Arizona? How long are you staying in Nightfall?”
“For the summer,” I say. “Well, four weeks. Arizona school breaks are short. But trust me, it’s long enough to ruin my life.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Parrish says, sounding truly sympathetic.
Now I feel overdramatic and silly—there are real problems in the world. A lot of them. I know realistically that my life isn’t ruined.
“It’s actually our own fault,” I admit. “My brother and I . . .” I nearly tell Parrish about the party, but then decide it’s not really an important detail. “Never mind,” I say. “Marco and I are here for the summer. I’m going to make the best of it.”
“That’s the spirit,” Parrish says, gently elbowing my side. “And I’m sure you’ve heard about the Midnight Dive—they’ve plastered flyers about it everywhere.”
“I have,” I say. “Is it fun?”
He pauses, then nods. “It is,” he says. “I think you’ll enjoy it. But what’s even better is that there’s a party tonight. And every night leading up to it.”
The beach is deserted. “Really?” I ask, doubtful.
“Not here,” he says. “The locals hang out at Sunrise Beach—about twenty minutes away. Breathtaking views. It’s very cool. You’ll love it. We’re heading over there soon if you want to—”
It suddenly occurs to me that the sun has set. I look around, surprised at how quickly the sky has grown dark, stars dotting the blackness. My heart leaps with worry. “Shit,” I say. “I have to go. We’re supposed to be home by now.”
“You sure?” Parrish asks, sounding disappointed.
“Yes,” I say quickly. “We’re late. I have to get my brother. He’s back at the shops.”
Parrish and I both stand up. He motions toward the promenade. “I’m actually heading that way to meet my friends,” he says. “I can walk with you, if you want?”
“Sure,” I say. “That’d be great. And . . . I’m sorry to be so abrupt. My grandmother is just . . . she has this rule and—”
“You don’t have to explain,” Parrish says, his eyes shining brightly. “Besides, there’s always tomorrow night. Or the next night.” He smiles at me. “Or the night after that.”
Get your copy of In Nightfall by Suzanne Young here.