Book lovers up late for ‘Breaking Dawn’

Margaret Smith

It was a masquerade of all things moonlit and magical Friday, as revelers resplendent in garb both ghoulish and glamorous flocked by the hundreds at dusk to the Barnes & Noble in Burlington.

Although a bookstore was their gathering place, this was no time for “quiet, please” signs.

Rather, it was the hour to prowl and howl, as followers of author Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight Saga” series breathlessly awaited “Breaking Dawn,” the series’ fourth novel featuring high school student Bella and her beloved Edward -- a vampire who to all outward appearances is just her eccentric lab partner in biology class.

Dressed in elegant lace, Katie Hart, 16, of Medford, and Jen Young, 17, of Revere, said the series’ appeal lies in partly its romantic element, but also in its well-drawn protagonists and engaging adventures.

“You have to read it – Bella is such a good character,” said Young. When she learned of the series’ popularity and culture of fandom, she said, “You realize that this is such a phenomenon.”

Hart said Young convinced her to read the books, and now she, too, is deeply in love – with Edward, with Bella, and with their struggles to defeat dark forces both within and outside themselves.

“It’s just a different type of story than I’m used to reading,” said Hart. “I do identify with the characters.”

They said no small part of the series’ attractions lies in its many paradoxes.

Edward became a vampire in 1918, while a heartbeat from death during that year’s influenza pandemic – and is a blend of youth’s beauty and life’s wisdom.

But he and other members of his blood-drinking clan struggle endlessly to curb their sanguine appetites -- hunting animals rather than humans -- but always one step away from losing control and destroying the people and things they love.

Asked what they would do at midnight, when the book was to be released, Hart and Young both laughed and said, “Scream, cry, dance!”

And probably stay up until the sunrise, turning page after page.

“It’s a caffeine kind of night,” Young said.

Robin Donovan, 19, of Winchester, said she was enjoying the pageantry of the book release party, where the couture ranged from formal to funky, with black mesh, white face makeup, and arms bedecked with florid designs and the names of Bella and Edward in fancy curlicues.

“This was an opportunity to dress up,” she observed.

“Some people go all out,” said Clara Lauter, 15, also of Winchester, pointing to groups wearing T-shirts that said, “Team Edward” who were queuing up for games of trivia against rival teams named for other book characters.

The overwhelming majority of macabre merrymakers were female, as are, by all accounts, most of the series’ fans.

But that didn’t stop Stephen Gordon, 15, of Reading, looking dapper in a tweed vast and black cape.

He and Erin McIntyre, also, 15, of Reading, who wore a velvety red cape, said they and their friends had opted for “formal vampire attire.”

This means that the well turned-out male vampire wears a black cape in the style of Dracula, who made vampires in literature so fiendishly fashionable to start with.

Plastic fangs complete the ensemble, but Gordon and McIntyre had to pause and remove theirs in order to speak.

“The main vampire, Edward, hates what he is,” Gordon, adding that he has gotten into the series because “all of my friends have read it. We like the suspense, additionally.” However, he observed, despite the tenderness between Edward and Bella, “It’s some of the most violent books I’ve ever read.” 

Phantom phenomenon

The “Twilight Saga” series may well be benefiting from just a little of the Harry Potter magic, as fantasy series catering to pre-teens and teens find a growing following.

The series’ first book, “ Twilight,” is the basis of a forthcoming film, and youthful author Meyer is hailed by critics as a veritable “wunderkind” whose supernatural tales tap into the very real emotions of young readers.

As with Harry Potter, booksellers have found book release parties a way to draw in buyers with activities such as games and costume parades reflecting the books’ fantastical settings.

As this party, morbid merry makers could link arms with Greg Good, a dashing Edward proxy, who led them in promenade one by one and even in a few groups to the cheers and applause of onlookers.

Even area businesses got into the act, deriving visibility -- and some of the evening’s fun -- from donated offerings such as exquisite black roses, face-paintings.

Readers who can’t wait to find out what comes next for Edward and Bella could prognosticate, with predictions ranging from epic battles between good and evil and the ultimate question – will Edward succumb to his desire for Bella’s blood?

These and other speculations may provide ecstatic torment, but whatever the answers, for now at least, readers of the series have in the fourth installment something to sustain them.

And with “undying” devotion like that, even a vampire can enjoy his day in the sun.

Margaret Smith can be reached at