“First Kill” takes a queer spin on vampire romance

Photo courtesy of Dominick D, Flickr

We’ve all had our fair share of vampire stories in our lives. The format always has a way of drawing in people with the promise of displaying something that appears human on the surface, but in reality, it is something darker and otherworldly. 

The media has been obsessed with vampire stories ever since Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” was published in 1897. The world went vampire crazy and culture’s taste hasn’t changed since the late 1800’s. Modern vampire stories range from “Twilight,” “Interview with a Vampire,” “True Blood” and “Vampire Diaries.”

There are common themes among them, and this can occasionally lead to some repetitive tropes. One is the mousy human girl, falling for the mysterious brooding vampire. This happened in nearly all of the previous films and shows I’ve mentioned. It’s to be expected, with so many versions on the same theme. This makes a fresh take on a vampire involved romance something worth checking out. In the case of “First Kill,” that statement certainly applies. 

“First Kill” is a short story by V.E. Schwab that appears in a short story collection titled “Vampires Never Get Old: Tales With A Fresh Bite,” which was assembled by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker. The tales are all vampire themed and contain stories from various authors, in addition to the story contributed by V.E. Schwab.

Schwab’s take on the vampire genre is a difference from the typical format. There is still an element of romance, but Schwab made her pair of love interests an interracial queer couple. Calliope Burns and Juliette Fairmont are high school classmates. Calliope is a hunter whose family kills anything that poses a threat to humans, and Juliette is from a long line of vampires.

These girls are in similar situations. Besides both crushing on each other, it is time for both of them to make their first kill. Calliope needs to kill her first creature and prove herself as a hunter, while Juliette needs to kill her first human and complete her transformation into a vampire.

They circle in each other's orbits until one night where their worlds collide, and both come to learn that they are the target of the other girl (both romantically and literally). The story ends with that realization and begins a two person war. 

Under normal circumstances, the story would end there and we’d get no further elaboration. However, we are going to get a unique continuation of “First Kill” thanks to Emma Roberts. Three weeks ago, it was announced that “Scream Queens” star Emma Roberts will be producing the “First Kill” adaptation Netflix.

Netflix won the rights for the show over 18 other bidders and attached Roberts to the development team. Schwab has also announced she has been a part of the writer room for the television adaptation. 

This is a big win for queer representation, which has been exceedingly present both on Netflix and in Schwab’s literature. V.E. Schwab identifies as a gay woman and has had very well-written queer representation in nearly all of her works.

Netflix has also had a large number of queer portrayal in shows like “Elite,” “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts,” “The Haunting of Hill House” and its sequel “The Haunting of Bly Manor." There are many more films and shows with varying levels of queer representation on the platform.

There is much to look forward to once the series hits the streaming service, but we can rest assured, knowing that “First Kill” is in good, creative, queer hands.

mkrasny@ramapo.edu