How Not to Be a Vampire Slayer

Scholastic. Oct. 2023. 272p. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781338893090.
Gr 3-5–Birchall’s contribution to Buffy’s legacy might feature the titular bloodsucking fiends but is far from spooky. This warm, fuzzy vampire tale features 11-year-old Maggie, her family (of vampire-slaying lineage), her newfound human friends Ari and Miles, and (vegetarian) vampire bestie Sharptooth Shadow. As Maggie and Sharptooth learn how to embrace their tweenage quirks and come into their own identities, they must also heal the long-standing rift between humans and vampires and save the mysterious forest from a greedy mayor. While seasoned readers will find nothing particularly unique in this lighthearted novel, Birchall’s writing is energetic and engaging. This title will likely find a home with readers who are enamored of the idea of scary rather than the actual experience of being frightened. Characters’ physical descriptions are fairly sparse, ultimately adhering to the white default (note that Ari is described as having brown, curly hair and generally unkempt in contrast to Miles’s tidy appearance). Vampire puns abound.
VERDICT Consider for large collections and readers just starting to dip their fangs into dark(ish) fantasy.

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