The best YA books about non-sparkly vampires

The Books I Picked & Why

The Beautiful

By Renée Ahdieh

Book cover of The Beautiful

Why this book?

When I was in middle school, middle-grade fiction didn’t really exist in the way it does now. There weren’t a ton of options for a young person who loved horror. So once I outgrew Goosebumps and Fear Street, I started reading adult horror. Stephen King. Dean Koontz. Anne Rice. I’ll never forget reading Interview with a Vampire for the first time. I had never been to New Orleans, but I was instantly transported. It was magical – electric. I could feel each word in my bones. Thus, you can only imagine my excitement discovering The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh. To that point, I hadn’t read anything that reminded me more of Anne Rice’s writing style. Just like the title, this book was beautiful. And haunting. With a New Orleans setting, a forbidden love trope, and lots of animated characters that I immediately fell in love with. If you already miss Anne Rice (rest in peace), then give Ahdieh a try. Bonus: The Beautiful is the first in a series, so if you enjoy it, there is more to come.

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Mina and the Undead

By Amy McCaw

Book cover of Mina and the Undead

Why this book?

This book – Mina and the Undead – is a fun and twisty homage to all things Interview with a Vampire. That is, if the horror of Interview with a Vampire and the humor of Clueless had a baby. Honestly, I can’t recommend this book enough. It got me out of a reading slump. I breezed through it in like a day, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to drop. 

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The Casquette Girls

By Alys Arden

Book cover of The Casquette Girls

Why this book?

Did I mention how much I love vampires? I grew up reading The Vampire Diaries, so I am all about a good (fictional) love triangle. Add vampires to that love triangle? Yes please! Cue Alys Arden’s The Casquette Girls series. Like my first two recs, this is also set in New Orleans, except unlike the others, this book is set in more modern times, specifically right after Hurricane Katrina. Since the author is from the area, the setting feels all the more authentic, and she doesn’t shy away from describing the devastation and rebuilding efforts; these are woven into the narrative. The writing itself is beautiful, but the characters are the star here. This series has quickly climbed to my favorites list. 

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Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite

By Zoraida Córdova, Natalie C. Parker

Book cover of Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite

Why this book?

I love a short story collection. Give me a short story collection about my all-time favorite monsters?? Yes please! Vampires Never Gets Old: Tales with Fresh Bite was the anthology I had been waiting for. Diverse stories, new takes on old tropes, the addition of modern technology – this collection has it all. Some of the stories were funny, some were poignant, some were scary, some were sad. Of course, I preferred some over others – that’s just how anthologies go - but they were all worth a read. My favorite in the collection was Kayla Whaley’s “In Kind”, which was absolutely heartbreaking. Take a read and let me know which one was your favorite!

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The Coldest Touch

By Isabel Sterling

Book cover of The Coldest Touch

Why this book?

I love seeing how contemporary authors can move vampires into the modern age. The Coldest Touch does this with a cast of very flawed characters dealing with complicated feelings (i.e. a budding romance between a human and a vampire). As if that wasn’t enough, there is a Death Oracle. I mean, who doesn’t love a doomed future with some characters trying to change the odds? 

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