YA fiction for September: What it means to be human

Great reads from Meg Grehan, AS King, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez and Naomi Gibson

In her third verse novel, Baby Teeth  Irish author Meg Grehan deliberately plays with vampire tropes as a way of exploring queer desire and identity

In her third verse novel, Baby Teeth Irish author Meg Grehan deliberately plays with vampire tropes as a way of exploring queer desire and identity

“I knew there was something,” Claudia says when her girlfriend “comes out” to her as a vampire. “Thanks for telling me.” In her third verse novel, Baby Teeth (Little Island, £8.99), Irish author Meg Grehan deliberately plays with vampire tropes as a way of exploring queer desire and identity. In some ways this is a 21st-century reimagining of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the urtext for lesbian vampires; it’s also a recognition that vampires – misunderstood and demonised by society – have resonated with teenage audiences for decades, even before Stephenie Meyer’s sparkly variety. 

Narrator Immy longs “to be good”, but she also craves blood – specifically, Claudia’s. There are echoes here of Anne Rice, but Grehan puts her own spin on the myth by having vampires as creatures who are reborn multiple times rather than once; memories of their past lives are fragmented. It allows for intriguing and sometimes wryly amusing references; at one point Immy motes: “As it turns out/ No matter how many times you live it/ Puberty/ Can still feel like it’s ripping the life out of you.”

The Irish Times
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The Irish Times

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