Review: Vampire Kisses (by Ellen Schreiber) Series Review
Imagine being a twelve-year-old girl who loves black clothing, rock music and vampires (before Twilight was published), living in the Midwest. Outside of Dracula or the Goosebumps series, there weren’t many novels for someone with those distinct characteristics…until Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber was published in 2003.
Reading a now-defunct teen magazine and discovering Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses novel (it was in the book reviews section) was like finding the Holy Grail. I raced to my local bookstore with my allowance and pulled my first all-nighter ever as I devoured every word of sixteen-year-old Raven Madison’s life in Dullsville (her not quite affectionate nickname for her small American hometown), where she is misunderstood by her type-A family, ostracized and antagonized by her classmates and completely boggles the minds of her authority figures. You see, Raven is a Goth, something very common in most places but not so normal in this little, upscale town. The only people who give her the time of day are her best friend and fellow outcast Becky Miller, and her lifelong antagonist, soccer star and school stud Trevor Mitchell.
In fact, nothing much happens in Dullsville at all unless you count the Bake Sale or the much-anticipated high school soccer games. At least, nothing happens until the night of Raven’s Sweet Sixteen party when the old mansion on top of Benson Hill becomes inhabited by a family rumored to be vampires.
And indeed, the Sterlings are a bit eccentric. A handsome art dealer father, beautiful and mysterious mother and sexy young son–all three “Goth”–are never seen in the daylight and a cloud of bats are always hanging around their home. Alexander, the seventeen-year-old, is usually seen in the cemetery after-hours and doesn’t go to school like a “normal” teen.
Is this the dream family Raven has always yearned for? Could the insane rumors (started by her old nemesis Trevor) be true? Is Alexander a vampire? And if he is or isn’t, would it really matter as she has already fallen hopelessly in love with him?
Vampire Kisses spanned nine novels over nine years, depicting Raven and Alexander’s relationship and all the trials teens in love go through on a usual basis: meeting each other’s families, fights, jealousy, friends, enemies and, oh yes…those “enemies”? For Alexander they are not just high school soccer snobs. For him, they are a rival vampire family from Romania, the reason he fled his hometown to Dullsville in the first place, and they are not happy about the way he disgraced their family and they want revenge.
Most of the series depicts the trials Alexander goes through with the Maxwell family: Jagger, his twin sister Luna and their little brother, Valentine, and how they make his life with Raven in Dullsville a living Hell. All he wants is to feel normal and accepted and forget about covenant ceremonies in Romania and family loyalties and drinking blood instead of energy drinks or soda like a normal teen. But he can’t escape what he is as he slowly lets Raven into his world of the Undead. She thinks it is all corsets and dancing in the moonlight but there is so much more to it she doesn’t comprehend.
And as time goes by, the urge to bite her and have her join him is becoming unbearable. How on Earth can he stand it for much longer?
This series is not just for teen girls. This is for anyone over the age of twelve who likes a vampire romance without the excessive sex or the gore. These novels have real emotion attached to them, and they make vampirism as human as possible. Raven is the perfect female protagonist: arrogant, sarcastic and totally original and independent, a reader couldn’t ask for a better lead character. Alexander is everyone’s vampire dream (or, as Raven calls him, her Knight Of The Night): sexy, Goth, a talented painter and passionate about everything: his life, Raven’s life, his art and his family; dealing with protecting his love or giving in to his vampire nature.
The secondary characters are numerous, but all extremely necessary to making this series as amazing as it is. Becky Miller is the typical sidekick for Raven: mousy and plain, she only feels at home with Raven or her boyfriend (the human Matt Wells), but she adds a bit of small-town humor to the series and is the conscience for Raven that Raven doesn’t possess herself.
Trevor Mitchell is as necessary to Raven’s life as air is–her nemesis since kindergarten, he hates anything and everything outside of his Tommy Hilfiger-encased, soccer-playing life, but he loves Raven to death…just can’t admit it, no matter how much he teases and emotionally tortures her.
Raven’s family are also majorly important to the story line: her ex-hippie parents now wondering what they did wrong when raising their daughter that she turned out more like Marilyn Manson than Marilyn Monroe and her eleven-year-old brother, a genius geek who wants a sister more like him than like Elvira.
Raven’s eccentric aunt also plays a minor role but makes the story more interesting after her brief appearance.
Alexander’s family appear as major characters in book #6, Royal Blood, and they wonder if human Raven is really right for their royal vampire son.
His sister, Stormy, appears in the final novel, #9: Immortal Hearts, and is a catalyst for change in her brother and Raven’s lives.
The “villains” are also extensive. Jagger Maxwell (first introduced in book #2, Kissing Coffins) is Alexander’s nemesis from a vampire family in Romania, who is out to get the sensitive artist because Alexander left Jagger’s (human) twin sister, Luna, at the covenant altar back home, refusing to go through with the union that had been arranged ever since Luna was born different from her entire family due to a gene that went back centuries to a human ancestor. Sexy, dark and reckless, readers will love and hate this enigmatic vamp from the moment they read about his tantalizing blue- and-green eyes.
His sister, Luna (introduced as a major character in book #3, Vampireville), is a Gothic fairy princess: beautiful, graceful and now a vampiress thanks to a random bite in an alley. She is always looking for love and the two men she has her sights set on only want one girl: Raven. Will her gallivanting around town with Trevor Mitchell drive Raven mad? Or will her constant tricks to get Alexander to finally have that ceremony do it instead?
The twins’ baby brother, Valentine, plays a small but crucial role in Dance With A Vampire, the fourth book in the series, by befriending Raven’s brother, Billy Boy, and making him suspicious of the real identities of Alexander and his friends.
With a cast like that (and I even left a few people and vampires out so I won’t confuse you, reader!), how could these novels not be interesting, hmm?
Story-wise, each book had it’s ups and downs, which I will highlight for you all below, but all-in-all, this series should have been made into films, as the emotions are so real and the characters are so unique. I recommend reading each book in sequence, not starting at, say…book #5 because it looks more interesting than the rest or something of that sort. These novels need to be read in the order they were intended to get the full picture and understand the story and learn about the developing romance between a human girl a vampire boy and how they overcome every obstacle (or try to, at least) out of their love for each other.
I highly recommend this series for any vamp lover, as I said, and I know I will be rereading these books even as I go into adulthood. They are magical and make you believe in vampires and in love. When I have a child, I know I will share these wonderful novels with him/her and pray they enjoy them just as much as I did and do!
Vampire Kisses (book #1): Goth gal Raven Madison wonders if the Gothic Guy who moved into the Mansion on Benson Hill is really a human…or have her dreams come true and she has fallen in love with a vampire? The story is full of emotion and teenage trials and what it is really like being an outcast in your town because of the way you look; it also takes twists and makes you wonder right up until the end…just what is Alexander Sterling? 5/5
Kissing Coffins (book #2): After Alexander’s disappearance Raven finds a note in his bedroom which reads “HE IS ON HIS WAY!!!”. She follows him to Hipsterville, where her hippie aunt lives, and discovers a Goth club (The Coffin Club) and a mysterious young man who just might be the “he” the letter warmed Alexander about. In a strange place and not knowing where her love is, can Raven resist the evil and charming Jagger Maxwell? 5/5
Vampireville (book #3): With Alexander safely returned home to Dullsville with her and Jagger Maxwell back in Romania, Raven is finally starting to believe her relationship with a vampire could work out just fine…until his jilted lover, Luna Maxwell, shows up in town, hanging on Trevor, making eyes at Alexander (and half the soccer team as well) and trying to make Raven fight with Becky, Raven realizes things won’t be going as smoothly as she had originally planned! 3/5
Dance With A Vampire (book #4): Luna is gone. Jagger is gone. Alexander has let Raven into his vampiric life and has even agreed to take her to prom. What could go wrong? Oh, just some Trevor Mitchell shenanigans and the mysterious new boy her brother has become friends with–a boy with Maxwell-white hair and who doesn’t go out in the daylight! Valentine Maxwell is on the scene and looking for a blood brother, but he will take Billy Boy over Raven’s dead body! 4/5
The Coffin Club (book #5): The Coffin Club in Hipsterville has always been a hangout for vampires, but when word gets to Dullsville that Jagger has opened up a club called The Dungeon just for vampires below the unsuspecting mortals in TCC, Raven and Alexander know they have to shut it down, but how? Do they just give up? Not Raven! She infiltrates the club, masquerading as a vamp, and befriends Onyx and Scarlet, two real vampiresses, and is now in danger of getting her cover blown…unless this mysterious new vamp with a sexy Romanian accent and purple hair on a motorcycle, Phoenix, can save her soul and stop Jagger from making more mortal clubsters into vampires against their wills. 5/5
Royal Blood (book #6): Raven doesn’t want summer break to end. She loves spending her days with Alexander in his coffin at the Mansion, but that ends with high school starting again. School means endless hours in class with her horrid classmates (including the ever-annoying Trevor) and hours away from her vampiric love. But that isn’t the worst thing that’s happening this September…the Sterlings are coming back to Dullsville and they want to meet Raven. Could this be the familial acceptance she has been looking for all of her life or will the older vampires cast her out, wanting no part of having a mortal future daughter-in-law? Could the past year all be blown to Hell in a matter of days? 4/5
Love Bites (book #7): Vampires abound in Dullsville! Who would have thought that the sleepy little preppy town Raven grew up in could be a mecca for the Undead? She certainly didn’t until Alexander’s presence brought the gang all in from Romania and Hipsterville. This time, the visitor is Alexander’s best friend, Sebastian Camden, and he is trouble! Reckless and uncaring with a heart of gold, he has his sights set on Becky, Raven’s BFF! Could the reappearance of Luna and the other crowd from The Dungeon show up wanting a place to hang out with their favorite honorary vampire, Raven, be a blessing instead of a curse? Could she get Sebastian away from Becky and Luna away from Alexander in one macabre matchmaking session? Or will someone else go under The Fang before Raven gets to? And could this mean the end of Alexander’s friendship with Sebastian? 4/5
Cryptic Cravings (book #8): Jagger had The Coffin Club, and he had The Dungeon. Now, he wants The Crypt to be the next big Goth club. But he doesn’t want to make another club in Hipsterville, that would be redundant. No, this time he wants to make the first vampire/human club ever in Dullsville, much to the chagrin of Raven and Alexander. He’ll be opening it with his sister, Sebastian, Onyx, Scarlet and…Trevor Mitchell?! This could be major trouble for the small town Alexander now calls home. Can he and Raven save this sleepy little place from a vampire invasion without angering Jagger yet again? 5/5
Immortal Hearts (book #9): The last book in this enchanting series has us meeting Alexander’s little sister, Stormy, and does she ever live up to her name! Rebelling against everything and everyone, the only people she likes are Raven’s brother and Luna Maxwell and what can Raven do about it? Stormy is questioning why her brother hasn’t bitten Raven…or is it that Raven doesn’t want to be bitten? This novel has Raven rethinking everything she has dreamed of since she was five years old and will leave you wondering what the ending will be…and once you read it you will be begging for a tenth novel… 5/5