Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! Angie includes roundups from participating bloggers in her post every week.
Sadly, I've only participated in Retro Friday once. But that doesn't mean I don't have older books to talk about! People talk like we're living in an unprecedented age of vampire novels. But really, the vampire novel never went out of style after it was invented. The vampire young adult novel, however, is more popular than ever. Back when I was in junior high those of us who liked vampires had fewer options. And one of the most popular options was COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT by Vivian Vande Velde.
I was already familiar with Velde when someone recommended COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT to me. I liked her books, ever since I read A WELL-TIMED ENCHANTMENT, since she wrote comedic and clever novels about teens and children in extraordinary situations. There was also a nice thread of feminism running through her works. As for COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT, I know of know better way to sell it than to tell the premise:
COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT begins with Kerry's late-night quest to retrieve her much younger brother's stuffed bear. (Anyone who has spent much time with a little kid knows that favored stuffed animals are necessary to get the kid to sleep.) Thus, Kerry drives herself down to the laundromat, pretty sure it will be closed, but willing to try anyway. Strangely, it is open but no one is there.
Then the owner and two of his friends return with a bound young man. They claim that Ethan is a vampire. Kerry, thoroughly assured that the local laundromat owner is out of his mind, helps Ethan escape.
The next day someone kidnaps Kerry's father and brother, causing her to go to Ethan for help. Ethan is, of course, a vampire. And Kerry's about to have the adventure of a lifetime.
Kerry is a terrific heroine. She's resourceful and brave, and she doesn't put up with vampires mocking her dad's old car. Ethan is charming bad news and secretive motives. (Together, they fight crime! Not really. But close.) COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT is structured like an action movie. Two very different characters meet, then have to work together for one crazy night. There's suspense, romance, comedy, and piano.
COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT is not a complex book and there is no deep mythology. That might put some vampire fans off. But it's a shame to miss out on this one. If only because it's about a girl who repeatedly rescues dudes in distress.