- Midnight Bites, by Rachel Caine
Rating: * * * * *
Series: A Morganville Vampires Short Story Collection
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Publication Date: March 2016
Synopsis: ‘Bringing together everything Rachel Caine has written in short form about Morganville, this collection is carefully organised into a timeline so you can read from the earliest adventures – some of which belong to vampires – all the way through to post-Daylighters, the final novel in the series. Midnight Bites includes more than 50,000 words of brand-new content, alongside stories compiled from the author’s website and anthologies. Including ‘Dead Man Stalking’ and ‘Pitch-Black Blues’, these tales feature everyone’s favourite bunny-slipper-wearing mad scientist, a fatal car crash, zombies, eerie carnival grounds, a blood-dispensing vending machine and much more. This diverse and supercharged group of stories will shine a little more light in the murkiest corners of Morganville.’
The ‘Morganville Vampires’ series means a lot to me, as I have been reading (and rereading!) these books for the past eight years, and they have taken me from the start of my teenage years to nearly the end of them. The characters are all very dear to me, and so reading ‘Midnight Bites’, a collection of new and old short stories, feels like a reunion with old friends. It is fantastic to see them all again!
There are so many aspects of this collection that I love and it would take a very long blog post to list them all, but I wanted to highlight a few of them:
Firstly, I really like the fact that this is a diverse collection of stories. There are many different points of view, including Hannah Moses’, Myrnin’s and Sam’s, as well as the four main characters, Eve, Shane, Claire, and Michael’s. Each character voice is unique, but they are all engaging. Additionally, the stories have different feels to them. Some of the stories are very emotional, such as ‘Grudge’, the story of the day that Shane angered Monica Morrell and his family was changed forever; some stories are creepy and mysterious, including ‘And One for the Devil’ in which Room 13 disappears and takes someone with it; other stories are more light-hearted and are romantic, such as ‘Lunch Date’.
I also really enjoy seeing younger versions of Eve, Shane and Michael. In ‘Grudge’ and ‘New Blood’ we see them all when they are in High School, before Eve and Shane have moved into the Glass House. It’s very sweet to see Eve’s initial feelings for Michael. It’s also fascinating in these stories to see more of Eve and Shane’s relationships with their family members, particularly their siblings. However, seeing Shane and Alyssa’s relationship, and his reaction to the fire, is heartbreaking.
Myrnin is a unique and fascinating character, one of my favourite characters in YA, and I love seeing more of him in this collection. In these stories we see more of his origins – we learn about his family and witness his first meeting with a vampire – and we see him in multiple centuries, with his past and present selves meeting in some tales. In several of the tales, he is in a terrible situation and must rise out of it with the help of Lady Grey. I really like these two together – she brings him back to himself. One of my favourite Myrnin quotes in ‘Midnight Bites’ comes from the story ‘Nothing Like An Angel’, when Myrnin has been found, after being tortured by a researcher, by Lady Grey. It’s a very emotional moment and this description of Myrnin’s feelings and sense of being comfortable resonated with me:
‘Lady Grey walked him into dark hallways, and for some ill reason Myrnin felt safer in the gloom than he had in the light. He’d adapted to the shadows, he thought. So many years in the dark, it had seeped into him and stained him.’
Another character I really enjoyed seeing again in this collection and one who stands out for me is Miranda, Eve’s psychic friend. She appears at Eve’s eighteenth birthday celebrations in ‘The First Day Of The Rest of Your Life’, and is very insistent about which seat Eve should take in the car when they make a journey. Eve and the others are bemused by this, but Eve listens and sits next to Miranda, which turns out to be very lucky for her…
One of the quotes I love best in this collection is from the story ‘A Whisper in The Dark’, which tells of what happens when a new vampire with an alarming agenda comes to town and claims a connection to Eve. The story is told from Michael’s point of view and this description of Eve struck me as being a really beautiful image, one which is especially touching because Michael is a vampire:
‘She gave him a warm, quick smile and leant in to fit her warmth against his side – sunlight in flesh, his own portable sun that heated but never burnt him.’
I would definitely recommend this book, and indeed any of Rachel Caine’s other Young Adult novels, which include ‘Prince of Shadows’ and ‘The Great Library Series’ as well as the ‘Morganville Vampires’ series. I have read and loved all of her teen novels, of which there are nearly twenty, and so Rachel Caine is one of my favourite authors and one who I have great trust in – I know every time I read or reread one of her novels that it is going to be great, because her books always are! Her next YA novel is ‘Paper and Fire’, the sequel to ‘Ink and Bone’, comes out in July. I am hugely excited for it, especially because I read a chapter sampler for it that was given out at Rachel Caine’s awesome Liverpool event last week, and it was fantastic and very suspenseful.