McGrane, Madeline. The Accursed Vampire. Quill Tree Books. 2021. $22.99. 176p. HC. 9780062954350
This book breaks the mold. The Accursed Vampire is a funny, gripping, and profound adventure comic about a vampire who is joined by their friends on a quest. The fact that the main character uses they/them pronouns is the least of its differences from other middle grade vampire fare. No discussions of gender identity, just pure anarchy and delight on the page.
Kid readers will revel in Drago’s bad vampire ethos. They have clearly been drinking human blood, attacking strangers in need instead of helping them, and operating with a general disrespect for human life, but it is largely not pictured. It strikes the perfect balance for children looking for a genuinely dangerous character without exposing them directly to the violence they commit.
And why does Drago live this way? What I really appreciated about this story was that it managed to be incredibly fun and silly while taking the characters and their backstories seriously. Drago is a recklessly impulsive vampire, sure. But they are also just a child dealing with the trauma of having been murdered instead of nurtured in their earliest years. There is a lot for readers to think critically about, if they are the thinking type. This could be a great book for talking about at home or reading together.
The Accursed Vampire is the future I want for kid lit. Highly recommended for young readers who are tired of being coddled.
Reviewed by Ashley Dunne