Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things

S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry. Sept. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534474574.
Gr 8 Up–Senior year is a time for friends and celebrations, but Victoria is consumed with thoughts of her dad. They share a special bond over their appreciation of vampires, but he is sick with untreatable pancreatic cancer. The two were supposed to go on a trip to New Orleans, but instead, her father encourages her to go with Henry, her estranged neighbor and childhood crush. Going without her dad means accepting the fact that his death is imminent. However, Victoria has an ulterior motive for going. She’s hoping to find a vampire who will turn her into one, so she can then turn her dad into a vampire, too. That way, he can live forever. Instead, she meets Nicholas, a supposed vampire, who says he’ll give her what she wants if she first proves her worth. Every day he presents her a challenge that pushes her out of her comfort zone and encourages her to experience life. Fuston takes readers on a trip through muggy New Orleans in this debut novel. It is equal parts heartbreaking and joyful, highlighting the lengths that one will go in the name of love. Fuston takes the traditional view of vampires and turns it on its head, associating them not with death, but with life and positivity. Even readers who don’t have interest in vampires and paranormal fantasy will find themselves drawn into this story that’s really about embracing life at its core.
VERDICT For fans of Buffy, What We Do in the Shadows, and light romantic tension.

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