With stories from genre veterans Kelley Armstrong and Tanya Huff, as well as a slew of newcomers, Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead is a worthy anthology for vampire lovers. Nancy Kilpatrick is no stranger to editing horror and dark fantasy anthologies – in fact, seven of the stories from Evolve were originally slated for an earlier anthology she edited, but were put aside specifically for this collection.
“I wanted to help [these writers] pave the way to the New Vampire because I felt certain that the vampire is, once again, evolving,” says Kilpatrick in the introduction, which gives a brief overview of vampire mythology from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga.
It’s difficult to say whether these 23 stories (and one poem) are truly breaking ground, although several stories feature vampires who have integrated into the population – running for public office, dealing with neighbourhood violence, and even appearing on Oprah to decry the “victimization of a misunderstood minority.” Much in the way that Charlaine Harris’s novels use the victimization of vampires as a stand-in for gay rights, Rebecca Bradley’s “The New Forty” and Bev Vincent’s “A Murder of Vampires” are well told, entertaining allegories.
However, not all the stories inspire sympathy for these creatures – this is still the horror genre, after all, and this book reminds us that not all vampires are sparkling heartthrobs. Colleen Anderson takes this to an uncomfortable extreme in “An Ember Amongst the Fallen,” a violently sexual tale about a clan that confines human beings like cattle.
There are some hits and misses throughout, but Evolve comes to a strong conclusion with Tanya Huff’s “Quid Pro Quo,” which features familiar characters for those who have read her Toronto-set Blood Books series. With such a wide range of concepts, Kilpatrick’s vision for the new undead just goes to prove that vampire mythology, no matter how old, is always evolving.