Silver Kiss, The

The Silver Kiss
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 1-Jan-1992

Adapted from "Vampires in Print" in The Vampire's Crypt #4 (Fall 1991).

Review by Cathy Krusberg

Annette Curtis Klaus. The Silver Kiss. (Delacorte, 1990) This is a Young Adult (YA) title.

Zoe is living a lonely life: her mother is hospitalized with cancer, her father is at the hospital more than at home, her best friend Lorraine is about to move to Oregon ("Venus!" as Zoe says). The next best thing to companionship is going to the park to watch children play, staying even after the dusk curfew to enjoy the night, and -- to her surprise -- encountering a young man, more boy than man, face almost as pale as his silver hair, beautiful "like an angel in a Renaissance painting." For all his charm, Zoe would prefer to be alone, and she stalks off.

Simon watches her leave, bemused at her anger, her resistance, her beauty. But he has concerns beyond Zoe: staying out of sight, catching enough rats to survive on, and keeping track of a child named Christopher whose skin is dangerously sensitive to the sun. Christopher has the habit of sneaking out of his adoptive home at night and using his "lost child" act to lure people into alleys, where he can feed off blood and fear: "He couldn't take what he needed and leave the rest, leave some life. He had to take every drop they had and defile them in the process." Simon has been tracking him for centuries, trying to make the world a better place by putting a stake through him. And Christopher is in one sense near the end of his rope: Simon discovers that the teddy bear he keeps with him constantly contains the only soil Christopher has left. Still -- Christopher has malice and all the appearance of innocence on his side, and after yet another unsuccessful attempt to put paid to this creature, Simon reflects: His own existence is lonely. This week's resting place is an abandoned school on Jennifer Street; home is wherever he carries a suitcase of native soil and a painting of his family. And Zoe: "You talked to me and I felt like a person again."

He cannot help being drawn to her, confiding in this human who has time for him. And she cannot help being concerned at the story he tells of Christopher's rage and brutality -- and his own repeated failures. She cannot fight the death taking her mother, but Christopher. . . .

"What if I helped?"

Once he recovers from his astonishment, Simon -- who had thought his aspirations lost to despair -- acquiesces. Who could refuse? And so a centuries-old boy and a teen-age girl brought suddenly into loneliness and responsibility join against an evil with a child's face and cunning gathered through uncounted human deaths.

In a day when horror so often includes explicit sex, splattery violence, and pat answers -- in varying proportions but invariably in quantity -- The Silver Kiss dares to show us a world more subtle but as chilling, as serious, as passionate as anything rated R. If one book could step forth to represent young adult literature as worthy, daring, and (frankly) a lot better than most adult- oriented stuff on the stands, I would want that one book to be The Silver Kiss. It invites us into its world to let us fear and feel and care. About Simon. About Zoe. About the parts of ourselves we see in them.

It's an invitation worth accepting.

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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