If you like YA paranormal fiction and you’d like a feminist short story about a vampire high-schooler, check out “The House of Aunts” by Zen Cho over on Podcastle (audio) and GigaNotoSaurus (text). (My review of Podcastle is here.)
Ah Lee is an average high schooler: she studies hard, has a crush on a classmate, doesn’t like the cooking or supervision at home–and just happens to be a vampire who lives with six old aunties who are also vampires.
While the focus of the story is ostensibly a humorous paranormal teen romance, Cho weaves into her narrative not just ideas about the morality of vampires, but also commentary on misogyny, war, parenthood, education, history, the generation gap, and discrimination, often through the aunts’ discussion of their pre-death lives with Ah Lee. “The House of Aunts” passes the Bechdel test easily with its women-led cast; set in Malaysia, the story’s the cast reflects the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the country. There are no queer characters in this particular story, but the characters actually dissect some of the problems of heteronormativity in their dialogue.
The story is rated R by Podcastle “for vampires, and their extended families.” Content-wise, there is a little gore regarding the eating of humans as well as attempted attacks on humans and vampires.
Being a vampire was not so bad. It was like eating steak every day, but when steak was your favourite food in the world. It wasn’t anything like the books and movies, though. In books and movies it seemed quite romantic to be a vampire, but Ah Lee and her aunts were clearly the wrong sort of people for the ruffled shirt and velvet jacket style of vampirism.
Undeath had not lent Ah Lee any mystical glamour. It had not imbued her with magical powers, gained her exotic new friends, or even done anything for her acne.
In fact Ah Lee’s life had become more boring post-death than it had been pre-, because at least when she was alive she had had friends. Now she just had aunts.