Title: The Silver Kiss
Author: Annette Curtis Klause
Publisher: Random House Laurel Leaf, 1992
Where and why: I bought this from Barnes & Noble. I originally read this for a paper I wrote on teen vampire novels for my Gothic Lit class when I was a junior in college, a paper which eventually grew into an independent project the next year.
Simon is the last thing Zoё expects to enter her life. Trying to cope with her mother’s illness and the inattention of her grief-stricken father, Zoё mechanically goes through her daily routine of school and returning to the solitude of her empty house, always waiting for the phone call informing her of her mother’s death. But when she sees the silver boy at the park and later downtown, she allows herself to get caught up in another’s past and pain.
After centuries of hunting, Simon is nearer to carrying out his revenge on the monster that killed his mother. But he can’t let go of the fact that he is one of these same monsters—a vampire. When he meets Zoё, however, he is able to feel an emotion other than the hatred he’s carried with him for so long, one that could put her in much more danger than she would ever dream possible.
Ultimately about grief and the acceptance of death, The Silver Kiss is a love story between a mortal girl and a creature of the night, something typical in the teen vampire genre. Perhaps not so stereotypical is Zoё’s complexity—she has problems of her own, and her interactions with Simon allow her to come to terms with them. Neither of the two main characters is perfect; both are flawed and on occasion lack common sense (especially Simon during his final attempt at vengeance).
It may be because The Silver Kiss is one of the earliest teen vampire books I’ve found, but the vampire lore in this book closely follows old stereotypes, something I've noticed isn't usually the case in the genre. Vampires drink blood, can’t stand sunlight, shape-shift, mesmerize victims, need to be invited inside a house in order to enter, and are repelled by crucifixes, among other things. A difference that seems to become common in more recent times is that fangs are retractable, only emerging when a vampire is about to feed.
What makes this book stand out to me is the vampire’s desire to reenter the human life cycle. Simon is tortured by the fact that he can’t die and must live with himself, trying to live off of animals but sometimes killing humans in order to survive. It has a bittersweet ending that gives the characters (and the readers) a sense of closure that other vampire books don’t. Despite some hiccups in the development of the relationship and of the plot, The Silver Kiss is a good contribution to the genre and an alternative for readers who wanted a bit more depth from series like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.