Secret Vampire
Secret Vampire
He was her only hope ....
Cover Artist
  • Sanjulian (first edition)
Publication Information
  • Pocket Books (first edition)
Release Date
  • June 1996 (first edition)
  • 228 (first edition)
Followed By

Secret Vampire is the first book in the Night World series by bestselling author L. J. Smith. It was first published in June 1996.


For Marilyn Marlow, a marvel of an agent.

And with thanks to Jeanie Danek and the other wonderful nurses like her.


Prince of Darkness

The pain was something Poppy couldn't ignore. The diagnosis was death. There was no hope -- until James appeared in the darkened hospital room. James, her best friend and secret love, the handsomest boy in El Camino High. But this was a James she didn't know, menacing yet irresistible as he offered Poppy the gift of eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World, and spirit her into its lonely, secret universe. One dizzying kiss and she can see into his soul. She finds that he has always loved her. They're soulmates -- but can she follow him into death ... and beyond? It's a desperate choice, and Poppy's time is running out...


It's a normal day at the Norths' breakfast table. Poppy North is looking forward to the beginning of summer vacation, intending to spend as much of it as possible with her best friend since childhood (and secret crush), James Rasmussen. Poppy's twin brother Phillip doesn't like James, due to his reputation as a 'bad boy' and his numerous girlfriends, though Poppy is unconcerned. James comes over to see Poppy. Suddenly, Poppy feels a terrible pain in her abdomen and faints in front of the refrigerator. Poppy's mother forces her to go to the doctor for checks, when Poppy reveals she's been having pains for weeks now. Checks from the doctor reveal that Poppy has a rare form of pancreatic cancer and it has already entered the critical stage. There is little hope of recovery.

Devastated, the North family tries to decide what would be best for Poppy, who may only have months to live. James is upset too, but also faces his own personal conflict: is actually a vampire, a lamia one to be exact, which is why the North family have seen the Rasmussen boy growing together with their twins. James desperately wants to save Poppy, but doing so could mean breaking the Night World laws, for the number one rule in the Night World is to never tell any human about its existence and James has also fallen in love with Poppy, which is a violation of the second main rule in Night World: Never fall in love with a human. James initially goes to see a witch named Gisele, asking for a spell to cure cancer, but upon finding out it's for a human, Gisele tells James that is no such spell and even if there was, she wouldn't give it to him. James' only other option is to turn Poppy into a made vampire. However, James would require the permission of the Vampire Council and knows they are unlikely to ever grant it, due to him falling in love with 'vermin'. However, James cannot bear to see Poppy die and decides to do it in secret.

James tells Poppy about being a vampire and about the Night World. After getting over her initial shock, Poppy still trusts and loves James, and agrees to his plan to become a made vampire, knowing it's the only way she'll live. Phil walks in on them as they're exchanging blood, but mistakenly believes James was making out with Poppy. Phil angrily confronts James. Not wanting to arouse Phil's suspicion, James pretends he was only doing it to comfort Poppy and that he only thinks of her as a friend. However, when Phil interrupts another blood exchange, he is furious and tells Poppy James is only using her. Poppy, who is emotionally unstable and irrational due to the vampire blood, believes Phil and turns on James, ordering him to get out.

As Poppy’s condition worsens, James finally reveals to Phil that he is a vampire and tells him that he is really trying to save Poppy's life. A grief-stricken Phil reluctantly agrees to cooperate to save his sister and convinces Poppy to see James again. Poppy's emotional state balances out again and she agrees to finish the process of becoming a vampire. To the human world, Poppy North is dead but to the Night World, Poppy is a new vampire. Phil helps James dig up Poppy's coffin after she finishes transitioning into a vampire. Because of her new identity and illegal vampire status, James decides to take Poppy to live in his apartment, intending to move far away to prevent anyone from recognizing her. On her first day as a vampire, Poppy and James realise their romantic feelings are mutual. James believes that they are soulmates, telling Poppy about an old belief in the Night World that everyone has one person who they are predestined for and are perfect for them. Poppy is overjoyed that James loves her and that she'll get to be with him forever.

However, the plot takes a turn when James’s vampire cousin, Ash Redfern comes to town. Ash is well known for his languid style and mercilessness when it comes to humans, as he considers human as food, nothing else. James, knowing all too well about his cousin, tries to hide Poppy from him, fearing what he will do if he finds out about her.

Whilst James heads off to try and stop Ash from arriving, Ash arrives at James' apartment, having gotten a key off James' mother. Poppy tries to hide the fact she is a new vampire, but Ash figures it out anyway. Ash tricks Poppy into leaving James, saying that the Night World will inevitably find out and that she is putting James in danger by staying with him. Ash takes Poppy to Las Vegas, knowing about a Summer Solstice party hosted by Thierry Descouedres, a Night World Elder and leader of the made-vampire. Meanwhile, James realises Poppy and Ash are gone. Finding a goodbye note from Poppy and realising that Ash may plan to hand her over to the Night World Elders, James warns Phil and they set off to Vegas together to save Poppy.

When they get to Las Vegas, Poppy is brought to Thierry’s mansion, only then realising Ash intends to turn her over to the Elder for execution. Poppy fights back against Ash and manages to free herself by using a telepathic scream, which stuns the unprepared Ash. Phil hears Poppy's 'scream' and he and James rush to mansion, surrounding Ash, who admits defeat and agrees not to tell anyone about Poppy. However, he cryptically comments that Poppy has "a very loud shriek".

It is later revealed that both Poppy and Philip are actually lost witches, through their father. A lost witch is where a witch is unaware of their magical heritage. That explains the telepathic connections and their father's sometimes bizarre behaviour, saying he heard voices in his head. This means that Poppy actually belongs to the Night World society and James has not broken the rules after all. James and Poppy set out to find Poppy's father, supposing that he could help them. As for Philip, he is happy with his human status and will not claim his lost witch status in the Night World.

This is the first book in the Night World series and also the first story in the Night World Omnibus volume published in 2008.

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