From vampires to gothic horror, Bram Stoker’s 19th century novel Dracula still has its fangs sunk deep into YA fiction today. It’s hard to find a supernatural YA story that doesn’t owe some debt to Stoker for popularizing legends of bloodsuckers and other ghoulish tales. Let’s discuss some of Stoker’s most iconic innovations and how they continue to inspire modern YA genre fiction over a century later.
One of Stoker’s most obvious influences was cementing vampires in popular culture through his villain, Count Dracula. Though vampiric creatures existed in folklore before, Stoker synthesized those myths into an archetypal vampire model. The mesmerizing, shape-shifting Dracula could turn into a bat or wolf, slept in a coffin, hated garlic and mirrors – elements that became canon. Without Stoker, we wouldn’t have the explosion of vampire YA like Twilight, Vampire Academy, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and more. His gothic storytelling made vampires irresistibly alluring and seductive.
But it wasn’t just vampires – Stoker’s complete embrace of horror and the macabre opened the door for more YA genre tales. Gothic settings shrouded in mist, ominous castles, sadistic villains, mind control, and love stories with a dangerous edge can all be traced back to Dracula. Horror fans can thank Stoker for pushing creepy stories with complex, morally ambiguous characters into the mainstream. Series like Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns, and Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked awaken that chilling Stoker spirit for teen readers.
Bram Stoker also influenced YA by showing how fantasy and horror could blend together, a combo that’s super popular today. Modern YA fantasy horror like An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, The Merciless by Danielle Vega, and The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco all interweave fantastical elements with spine-tingling horror. By mingling vampires with folklore like incubuses and witchcraft, Stoker proved both could unsettle readers in new ways.
Beyond monsters, Stoker’s masterful use of setting and mood is a huge inspiration for YA authors. Through sinister settings like Dracula’s imposing Transylvanian castle, filled with crypts, demons, and secrets, Stoker crafted an atmosphere dripping with gothic dread. YA novels like Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo and The Diviners by Libba Bray expressly aim to mimic Stoker’s tone of ominous foreboding. Using weather, landscape, and architecture to create a dark, creepy vibe is straight from Stoker’s playbook.
It’s incredible to think a 19th century horror tale could shape YA genre fiction so much today. But thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, vampires prowl, spirits haunt, monsters lurk, and romance carries a delicious bite of danger in modern YA books. His gothic horror imagination gave YA authors the courage to resurrect horror stories for teen readers. So the next time you pick up a thrilling YA fantasy thriller, remember to thank Stoker for sinking his teeth into our necks!