About the Book

Title: Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle (Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle #1)
Published: 2013
Series: Real Vampires Don't Sparkle
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Awful but Accurate
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: Fucking Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Vampires, Banter, Diversity
Relationship Status: Cheesy Pickup Line That Became a Hot (But Chaste) Date

Cover Story: Awful but Accurate

OOF. This is why you own an e-reader, y’all. Though in this cover’s defense, this is actually from the book. Well, not the standing naked on a rooftop part, but the Lisbeth Salander-esque branding.

And if I’m being completely honest: I pretty much picked this book solely because of the title, everything else be damned. I am incredibly easy to pander to; I can’t not when I see a name like that.

The Deal:

Having recently finished his master’s degree, Matheus Taylor was just leading an ordinary life. Then he met Quin. And by “met,” I mean “got killed by,” because Quin’s a 1,700-year-old vampire.

On top of figuring out this whole vampire thing—and those thunder-down-under feelings that he might be developing for Quin—Matheus is finding his undead existence to be under constant danger. Especially from a mysterious new threat who’s picking off the city’s vampires one by one.

BFF Charm:  Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Matheus is a total Mysterious Loner Dude, emphasis on loner. But the few friends he has, he’s extremely loyal to. He’s smart and witty, and he’s a homebody that would like nothing better than to eat takeout and read. In other words, we’re pretty much besties already. Although I would worry that we’d curmudgeon each other to death. And that, y’know, he may use me as a human juice box.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

This is an absurdly high score, given the actual amount of pants action (or lack thereof) and the somewhat dubious nature of the relationship between Matheus and Quin (who happens to be quite the MLD himself). Though absolutely excruciating, Matheus’ sl-o-o-o-ow recognition and acceptance of his attraction to Quin made perfect sense, since the whole situation has sparked a sexual identity crisis for the former. And although Quin physically looks like he’s in his mid-20s, circa early A.D., the extreme age difference between him and Matheus is made creepier still when considering the power and financial disparity between the two. Even the characters themselves are fully aware of these kept man/sugar daddy paternal undertones.

AND YET. Despite all these reasonable reservations, I was extremely invested in these two. Every flirtatious exchange and near miss just intensified the severe case of blue balls this book gave me. Like, muffled-screaming-into-a-pillow frustration, to the point where I almost feel perv-y for how much I want these fictional characters to get it on. As the story progressed, my unanswered pleas became increasingly desperate. (From “Jump each other already!” to “Or even just an open-mouthed kiss?” and finally, “I’ll settle for y’all mentally undressing each other. PLEASE.”) Forget a knife—you’d need the freaking Jaws of Life to cut through that sexual tension.

Talky Talk: Fucking Straight Up

Amy Fecteau’s breezy, humourous style provides a welcomed contrast to the dark and oft bloody (pun fully intended) world that she has created. In terms of profanity and violence, Fecteau doesn’t hold much back (so can you blame me for wanting to see what she does with swoon?!). There’s the occasional wording that doesn’t flow as well as it could, but the captivating characters and sharp dialogue more than make up for any missteps.

“You need to learn how to fight,” [Quin] said.
“I know how to fight.”
“Physically fight. Most attackers aren’t going to be dissuaded by a witty remark.”
“That’s profiling,” said Matheus. “Maybe they’re Oscar Wilde fans.”

The ending is a bit abrupt and open-ended. Upon further research, that’s because the story isn’t over at all! The book basically covers the first 34 chapters, with new installments still being published on a weekly basis. This unconventional format also gives context for the serialized and distinct storyline arcs that comprise this book.

Bonus Factor: Vampires

Screenshot from Interview with a Vampire, with Lestat and Louis facing off

Yes, OK—I’m asking you to read a vampire book. And in this post-Edward Cullen age, making fun of Twilight has been en vogue for so long, it’s nearly passé. But this is a return to scary, dangerous vampires, y’all! Which is the very best kind of vampires!

“Forget what you saw in the movies. We don’t turn into bats, we don’t sparkle, and we don’t have sex with our prey.”

Plus! Matheus has a healthy curiosity for vampire biology, and I always appreciate superimposing real-world logic upon fantastical impossibilities.

Nerve endings still worked. The physiology made no sense. He could feel hot and cold, pleasure and pain, but no blood flowed, no beat of life.
Oh, god, what if he couldn’t get erections?

Bonus Factor: Banter

Speaking of secksin’, the lack of it was only barely tolerable due to the verbal foreplay between Matheus and Quin. Barely.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

English is not Matheus’ first language (nor Quin’s). And I could really relate to Matheus learning another language as a youth trying desperately to fit in with native English-speaking peers.

Oh, and I almost left this out as a bonus factor. (And not in a gross, self-congratulatory, “Oh, look how progressive I am” way. I honestly forget because I’ve already talked about it everywhere else.) But just to state the obvi, Matheus and Quin are both dudes. Who totally need to hook up already.

Relationship Status: Cheesy Pickup Line That Became a Hot (But Chaste) Date

I went out with this book on a whim, and I actually ended up having a lot of fun! But if we ever go on a second date, I’ll be sure to take a cold shower beforehand.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Curiosity Quills. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.