Vampire lore and fiction have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. And honestly, who wouldn’t want immortality, superhuman strength, mind control, and all the rest?
Now I know. Her name’s Veronica, and she’s my new favorite vampire.
I will never fully understand what poor Veronica goes through in her perpetually menopausal state (and I won’t understand being 51 for 17 more years), but that didn’t make Pamela Skjolsvik’s main character in Forever 51 any less relatable or dynamic for me.
The trick to writing a monster main character is to humanize them, which Skjolsvik does incredibly well. And, while conscientious vampires using the Twelve Step program to curb their bloodlust is also not wholly unique in the genre, this one has a great concept that turns the trope on its head.
Veronica is one such cruelty-free vamp who siphons her food at a hospice center in North Texas and often helps her patients in pain. But when she falls off the wagon again and leaves video evidence via a botched spray tan (such a great opening chapter), she needs to get out of town. What better destination than reconnecting with her teenage daughter, who was turned by a loathsome man when they all lived in 1800s Dakota? But her daughter’s also her maker who’s been MIA for a century, so the California reunion was far from warm and fuzzy.
But it ends in a revelation that Veronica can regain her mortality via making amends to all the vampires she’s turned. She’s in, and along the way learns some of her lifestyle choices were predicated on false narratives, inherits a new and wonderfully sardonic daughter figure, and uncovers a covert government program.
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed and snickered so much while reading or watching vampires. The genre has such a glut of dark romantic and Southern Gothic fiction, full of angst and melodrama, that a novel with this much sharp wit stands out in a big way.
Forever 51 does for vampires what Santa Clarita Diet did for zombies. And I’m 100 percent here for it.