The Silver Kiss
by Annette Curtis Klause
Published October 1992 by Laurel Leaf Books (first published September 1990)
Zoe misses her mom, who is battling cancer in the hospital. Her father is a distant figure she passes once in a while in the house, and her only friend, Lorraine, is her only support. Zoe is lonely, coping with pain and sadness on her own. Struggling to be brave but feeling like a fraud most of the time, Zoe sees a boy late one night in the park, with silver hair and pale skin, like a ghost; frightening and mesmerizing.
Simon is a man on a mission. After 300 years of tracking, he has finally found his brother who was kidnapped and turned into a vampire when they were both young children. Simon’s brother Christopher is the sort of hunter that enjoys the kill, seeking out human prey and taking lives in a brutal way just for sport rather than for sustenance. Christopher is everything evil a vampire can embody: he uses his innocent appearance to lure his human victims, he takes their blood and their life and enjoys it, starting with the mother he and Simon both knew. Simon is driven by revenge for his mother’s murder and now that he has found his brother, Simon realizes that Christopher is a horrific threat to all of the humans in the area also. Killing Christopher has been Simon’s goal all along but now he has an added reason: to protect Zoe. But he cannot accomplish it without her help, so he is forced to confide in her and share his own dark secret.
As Simon and Zoe get to know each other, Zoe realizes his beauty is deep inside and she trusts him in spite of the many reasons she should not. They form a bond between them that is very strong and decide to plan together to kill Christopher in order to save the lives of the people in the town after he has started to kill again. It is a simple plan: dig a hole and line it with stakes, Zoe will be the bait to lure Christopher to the park, Simon will push him into the hole and finish him. The plan does not go exactly as planned, but they get Christopher to the park and after a fight between brothers, Simon manages to push Christopher into the stakes and kill him.
Simon realizes by the end of the story that his revenge is complete and his brother is dead, his family is avenged and he must decide how to live undead or kill himself. He cannot pursue his feelings for Zoe and accepts his fate as a creature that the natural world rejects. With Zoe’s help, Simon scatters his earth and together they let go of each other.
Told in a third person narrative, The Silver Kiss is told in alternating character focus and it makes for an interesting read as you go from the mind of one character to the other. The themes of good vs. evil are well done in this story, as Simon struggles with his desires and yearnings, but triumphs over the urges he must control to preserve any sort of humanity he may have left. Simon must also struggle with the evil that his brother Christopher represents, “bad” vs. “benign” vampire.
The Silver Kiss was written in 1990, long before Twilight and the surge of other contemporary vampire-high school girl love stories hit the YA shelves in book stores and high school libraries. The characters are more distinctly different in this book than some vampire love stories, as Zoe is very much the teen: self-absorbed, insecure, awkward, and easily distracted. Simon on the other hand may have the appearance of a teenage boy but his age and centuries’ of life experience come out clearly in his language and his thinking. His perspective is a much broader view than Zoe’s and she cannot imagine the vast life he has lived, Simon is weary from a life of living dead.
Zoe can’t decide if Simon is a creep or someone like her, lonely and tormented by the loss of those he loves. Can Zoe trust Simon to reveal himself to her – and can Simon really trust Zoe enough to share his 300 year-old secret and the pain of being undead?
Information about the Author
Annette Curtis Klause is head of children’s services at the Aspen Hill Community Library in Maryland. Born in Bristol, England, she now lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, with her husband and their cats.
Genre: Fiction; Horror
Awards: South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book (1993), Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Grade 6-9 (0), Sequoyah Book Award (1993), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (1991)
Content Area: Character and Values; Culture and Diversity; Friends and Friendship
Pgs. 58-60 “A cold breeze swept through the park,” starts off an encounter in the park between Zoe and Simon where they first realize they may have some shared creepy factor, as they both find themselves seeking solace late at night and alone on the playground in the park. It is a great prelude to the commonality of their nature later in the story.
Chapter 10 beginning on page 131 is the start of Simon’s great story. There are several parts of the story that could be used to intrigue listeners and entice them to read the book. Simon’s life as a human and his tragic family story is heartbreaking and very descriptive.
Text Measures/Reading Level:
Quantitative: Lexile Measure®:690
Interest Level : Grades 9 – 12
Reading Level: 5.1
Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/challengedmaterials/support/strategies
Annette Curtis Klause is the author of novels such as ALIEN SECRETS (Delacorte, 1993), BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE (Delacorte, 1999), and THE SILVER KISS (Delacorte, 1990). This interview was conducted via email in December by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
Why This Book?
I am not a big fan of vampire books in general – and particularly YA and teen vampire books. But I have a co-worker who is absolutely fascinated by the theme and she recommended it to me. I enjoyed the books which just goes to show you should always be open to suggestion!