It’s been ages since I did a post about the various young adult novels I enjoyed reading as a teen. Most of these books were released in the 1980s and 1990s (although there were some 70s-era books that I remember really enjoying as well). A lot of the books that I loved back then could never really be considered ‘classics’ – not many of these are still in print today and are mostly forgotten about except in the deepest recesses of the mind of 80s/90s-era teens such as myself.
It’s a bit of a hobby to mine to collect forgotten books. I have a section on Goodreads dedicated to books I read when I was a teen (mainly obtained from my local library) and I have been (slowly) trying to get ahold of some of these – not an easy feat when you consider how long some of them have been out of print but persevere I shall. 😉
One author who managed to largely avoid this fate was L.J. Smith. She is best known for her Vampire Diaries series of books that spawned a very successful television show (I used to watch it but my interest has waned over the years). Yet, I never felt that this was truly the best example of her work. Don’t get me wrong; I read and enjoyed the books back in the day (which aside from some truly god-awful covers were pretty entertaining) but I much preferred her Forbidden Game trilogy, the Dark Visions trilogy, and her longer-running Night World series.
Night World was just the kind of series that piqued my interest as a teen. I loved stories with paranormal elements (still do in fact, Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Mead, and Ilona Andrews are counted among my favourite authors) and this series just about ticked every box for me.
Focusing on various paranormal mainstays such as vampires, witches, werewolves, shapeshifters, and other creatures of darkness; I can truly say that this was one of my favourite young adult series that was published in the 1990s.
The first book in the series was Secret Vampire. I can remember finding the topic of this book very different to the normal ‘scary’ books I read. The main character Poppy discovers she is dying in the opening chapters of the book. Her best friend James offers her the only chance for her survival: he is a vampire and he offers to turn her to save her life. This means entering into a world Poppy never knew existed – and she must cut all ties with her family in the process.
Each book followed a new set of characters but there was a lot of crossover between each of them. The last couple of books were building towards some kind of apocalyptic event – that was due to occur at the turn of the century. But there were a few chosen ones who had the power to stop it… and then we never found out the outcome! The series ended with book number nine. I believe the author had some issues in her personal life and did not write a for great number of years. Fans of the series are still waiting on that elusive tenth book (tentatively named Strange Fate) that would finally tie all the storylines together.
As for me, well I’ve kinda given up on ever getting that final book (I waited for years and years but still nada). I get the impression that L.J. Smith is not really that interested is finishing up this series now and it has been so many years I am doubtful that it would have ended all that satisfactorily either. I have moved on and I think the author has too.
Even so, this was still an incredibly influential series for me. I love books with a paranormal or urban fantasy setting. I moved on to read Kelley Armstrong’s amazing Women of the Otherworld series which felt like a ‘grown-up’ version of the Night World books with somewhat similar themes. I will always be grateful to L.J. Smith for giving me that first real taste of the genre.
And hey, if one day Strange Fate does make an appearance, be sure that I will at least check it out, even if it is just for nostalgia’s sake.
These were the UK covers of the series that I can remember when I first read them. I have since purchased the series (oh, about a good 8-10 years ago) that have different covers but I prefer the ones below. Click on each cover to go to the Goodreads link for the book.