Retrospective: Morganville Vampires (#1 – #3)

This post was almost complete before the news that Rachel Caine had passed away was announced. Rachel Caine is an author whose words quite literally inspired me to become a reader. So writing this now feels more bittersweet than I had expected. As per Sarah’s announcement, I’ll be making a donation to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American Emergency Medical Fund in her name.

Retrospective is a blog series where I’ll be re-reading books and series that I had read during my childhood and early teen years. What better way to start this new blog series is beginning with the series that I think kickstarted my love for books. I was a very casual reader as a child, only because my access to books was minimal – I had only read books that my sister had on her bookshelf or whatever my primary school provided. My sister had just started college and using her EMA money; she bought the Morganville Vampires. And I probably wanted to copy everything she was doing, so I picked up the series as well. I don’t know what it was, but ten-year-old-me was obsessed with this series. And I wanted to re-read the series for a while now, mainly to remember some of the finer details of the series and to see how the story holds up to me currently as a twenty-two-year-old young adult, rather than as pre-teen. My standards and taste in books as certainly changed. But my love for vampires hasn’t so….

If you don’t know anything about Morganville, here’s a summary:

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don’t show many signs of life, but they’ll have Claire’s back when the town’s deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood. Will she be able to face the town’s terror or will she drown like everyone else?

There are fifteen books in the main series, so I’ll be splitting this post into small posts, so I’m not just chucking down a block of text at anyone reading this. But, I hope you enjoy this retrospective, I cannot guarantee it will be something coherent or engrossing, it’s mainly a brain dump of me reminiscing on the series. And oh do I have some feelings about this series.

Please note that the Retrospective series will contain many spoilers.

Glass Houses

The biggest thing that surprised me about Glass Houses was how short this book was? At first, I thought it’s just my memory fog and nostalgia. But then I realised, my child brain quite literally mashed the events of Glass Houses and Dead Girls Dance together because there is no time skip between the two and I most likely read them both one after the other.

Glass Houses is mainly about Claire Danvers as she is forced out of school dorms due to bullies. She miraculously makes her way to Glass House where she meets Michael, Eve and Shane, who inform her that Morganville is a city of Vampires. And the students are unaware of it all. It’s real residents; however, are aware and do their best not to gain any bad attention. Those protected wear a bracelet, naming their protector. But Claire finds herself joining the three people who hate the city the most. And leaving the dorms isn’t as easy as she thought it could be.

The first book revolves around Claire and her search for a rare book that holds deep vampire secrets. Like, I said, it’s relatively short, but we are introduced to the main cast and secondary characters who are staples in the series. Monica and her brother brought back some deep-set anger. I forgot how much I hated her, damn. We meet Amelie, the leader and oldest vampire in the world, and the story of Morganville slowly comes together.

Reading this in 2020 was a lot of fun, there’s a lot of quips and jokes that were on-brand for the early and mid-2000s. I think Shane was playing a PSP and I laughed so hard because back then, I thought Shane was so ~ cool ~. After all, he had one. Now, in 2020, I’m playing Ghost of Tsushima on the PS4, and now that I think about it, Shane and Michael would have both loved that game as much as I do.

The best part of reading this was just remembering Morganville. A weird Texan town that was home to a secret society of vampires. The idea of vampires living in one of the hottest places in the USA was so funny to me.

Seeing Claire make her way up to Glass House, her not knowing what’s to come, had me screaming. When Eve enters in her full-on goth outfits, Shane and his constant supply of chilli, and Michael being very elusive, it felt so nice to be re-introduced to all these old favourites.

The ending of this book had me spinning out as a kid. I was SO mad at Michael’s “death”, mostly since he was my favourite out of the Glass House residents. Shane’s story was the saddest, but as a character, I think I grew to love him more by Midnight Alley. I liked the angst, but I think it was too much for me as a child. Michael was a sweetheart character.

The Dead Girls’ Dance

Michael coming back to life just in time to save Claire and Eve was iconic. This book is a lot more eventful than Glass Houses; I’m not surprised that I mixed up the plots when I was younger because you put these two books together, and with a little more editing, could easily pass as one book. Now that I think about it, if I had to give some sort of critique as an older reader, I feel like the earlier books in this series could have been put together to cut down and I don’t think it would have affected the quality whatsoever.

Re-reading this book has made me particularly aware of how much my tastes have changed. There’s a lot in this book that I shrugged off as a kid, but now as an adult, I’m like “huh, not a fan of that,” and continued reading. I always loved Claire, but it took me so long to warm up to Shane. I respected that he put up some boundaries between him and Claire. His backstory is so damn tragic, this town has ruined him the most, and I’ve always rooted for him to be better. There’s just something I can’t quite put my finger on that unsettles me about him. Or maybe this was just me not yet realising that the romance aspects of books aren’t the hook for me as it would be for other readers.

Michael deciding to become a vampire was such a plot twist for young me. Looking at it now, it was quite really the only option for him, considering he could only appear at night. It feels less exciting and more disheartening, once you realise the effect it has on everyone.

This is a formal apology to Sam Glass. I have a terrible memory, but I still cannot believe I completely forgot about him. There was always a nagging feeling in the back of my mind as I was reading that I knew I had forgotten something, just didn’t realise it was that fact that Michael’s grandfather is a vampire. 💀 When he introduces himself to Claire, I was so mad at myself for forgetting. If I were ranking the series, Dead Girls’ Dance would probably land in the bottom five, not because it’s terrible but more so that I know I enjoyed the series a lot more later on.

Also, the copy I had of this book growing up was the glow in the dark version and young me was lowkey sad they discontinued those covers. 😭

Midnight Alley

Midnight Alley is where the series really kicks off. The first two books were good at introducing the playing field of Morganville, but Midnight Alley brings us to the real issue behind the town.

The introduction of Myrnin as the trap door spider was SO good. Also, I forgot how young vampires are supposed to look in this series. He’s introduced as looking like he’s in his mid-twenties. The web series of Morganville had cast older actors to play a lot of the vampires so yet again my terrible memory fails me once more. (as always)

Myrnin reveals Morganville’s darkest secret: all the vampires are slowly dying, and Amelie has no idea how to stop it happening. So she assigns Claire as an assistant to Myrnin, but she struggles to handle Myrnin during his moments of sickness, where he completely forgets who he is and turns on her. Here is where we learn how the Morganville network works. Everything is based on Alchemy, but if Myrnin doesn’t figure out their sickness, then everything that Morganville stands for will soon fall.

The only critique I could have about this book is the whole Captain Obvious arc and how he’s never mentioned before this book. It’s nothing serious or anything terrible. But considering that Michael is revealed to be a member of their anti-vampire new spread, I would have thought it would be mentioned much earlier in the series. I feel like it would have worked so well in Glass Houses. But there are no hard feelings there. It’s still quite satisfying seeing the group collapse so quickly.

If the ending of Glass Houses had me spinning, then I died at the end of Midnight Alley. I knew Mr Bishop as one of the series’ antagonist, but I miscalculated when he actually appears. The way he tricks Claire’s parents and the book ends with him demanding to see his daughter, Amelie, or he will kill all the humans in the house. If I learnt anything from this re-read of Morganville Vampires, is that Rachel Caine knew how to make cliffhangers, and that was one thing that never changes. 

Well, that’s a wrap on part one of this Retrospective series for Morganville Vampires. It’s not my most eloquent of posts. I was initially planning to make this a reading vlog, but I’m not confident enough to speak in front of cameras yet. I was mainly writing this for the nostalgia kick, as it has been over 11 years since I first read this series. I’m not surprised by how much I have forgotten, something that will be common in future posts, which is why I wanted to do this retrospective series so much. The list of books I want to read is never-ending, so I often don’t get a chance to re-read books that I did love. So I am very excited to re-read this series again.

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