Return of the vampire: Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun and YA vampire fiction

Sam George and Bill Hughes, eds., Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013)

The Open Graves, Open Minds Project began in 2010, in part as a response to Stephenie Meyer’s hugely successful Twilight series; a Young Adult vampire romance series, the first of which was Twilight (2005). We launched the Project with an exciting conference on the role of the vampire in culture, out of which came our first edited collection, Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day (2013). Since then we have explored a host of other supernatural creatures in all modes of fantastic and Gothic writing but centred upon the paranormal romance, frequently that for YA readers, and with the vampire always lurking in the background. Now, Meyer’s sparkling revenant Edward Cullen is back, with her new book, Midnight Sun, which tells the paranormal romance between the mortal Bella and Edward in the latter’s voice. The first chapters of this appeared on line in 2008 but Twilight fans have had to wait twelve years to get the full novel.

Stephenie Meyer, Midnight Sun (London: Atom, 2020)

We’ve yet to read Midnight Sun but no doubt we will be posting on it soon. In the meantime, here’s a review by Elle Hunt in The Guardian–she’s not too impressed. A more sympathetic reading appears in this discussion between two Twilight fans, Rachelle Hampton and Rebecca Onion, who come to terms with their memories of their first love of the book and the more problematic aspects that have appeared since it was published.

The release of Midnight Sun has inspired some useful articles on vampire romance. On Goodreads, there are some very interesting interviews about YA vampire romances, with Meyer herself, and with Renée Ahdieh, author of The Damned; Caleb Roehrig, author of The Fell of Dark; Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, editors of Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite. They discuss why there has been a resurgence in the genre and what directions it might take.

Vampire romance is not confined to Young Adult readers; the Times of India has some suggestions for ‘Vampire Romances To Sink Your Teeth Into‘, both YA and adult. The Tor website (always an excellent resource on fantastic fiction) has an informative article on the persistence of vampire fiction by Zoraida Córdova, ‘Vampires Never Left: A History of Vampires in Young Adult Fiction‘. This mentions some novels that I’ve not come across before and which sound very interesting.

Of course, the vampire has a history from way before Twilight. In this BBC Radio 4 broadcast, ‘Vampires in Gothic Literature‘, Greg Jenner, Dr Corin Throsby, and Ed Gamble ‘look at the role of vampires in Gothic Literature of the 19th century and the effect on modern day pop culture.’

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