Vampire Books - The Fantasy Guide
The general idea and theme of the vampire covers a lot of territory which includes the drinking of blood, immortality and a variety of horros is a very old theme that is lost to history. There are accounts of this sort that go back to the ancient Persian empire . There are many variations of this theme. The modern vampire story as we know it gained its fame with Bram Stoker's Dracula of course; but there were other works that pre date it and that it got its inspiration from. In this guide I take a look at the Vampire novel and I point out some of the best works in the genre both past and present.
I also have a guest reviewer (Stacey O'Neale) who reviews some of the popular recent series in the vampire story genre. You can see her page here
The Early roots of the Vampire Novel
It is commonly thought that Bram Stoker's Dracula was how the whole vampire thing got started but this isn't really true. Dracula wasn't the first published vampire work! Although it is the most famous and it rightly holds the title of being the work that brought vampirism to its current fame. The distinction of the very first vampire book goes to an 1871 novel entitled Carmilla written by Sheridan Le Fanu. (It tells the story of a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman). If you are a fan of Vampire stories this is a must read! (Carmilla) And this book is not technically the very first work of vampirism. The very first vampire work published in english was a short story entitled: "The Vampyre" by John Polidori. It was published in 1819.
All three of these seminal works can be found is a single volume: Three Vampire Tales: Dracula, Carmilla, and The Vampyre (New Riverside Editions)
Another interesting and famous early work of vampire stories was the success of the penny dreadful series of stories about a vampire named Varney. These were published in serialized form, by chapter, in the streets of London for a penny each. This was in 1845. Varney the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood
A Transfusion of new life into the genre of the vampire ( I really could not help myself but I really had to use that pun!)
In the mid to late 1970's the Vampire story came back to life by the works of four authors and of course Stephen King is on this list! Everyone has heard of Salem's lot and Interviews with the Vampire but the other two works were just as important when it came to re-inspiring and re--invigorating the vampire story.
- Salem's Lot by Stephen King 1975 --about the slow takeover of an insular hamlet called Jerusalem's Lot by a vampire patterned after Bram Stoker's Dracula--has two elements that he also uses to good effect in later novels: a small American town, usually in Maine, where people are disconnected from each other, quietly nursing their potential for evil; and a mixed bag of rational, goodhearted people, including a writer, who band together to fight that evil.
- The Dracula Tape - Fred Saberhagen 1975 - Count Dracula tells his own version of his fateful journey to England in 1891, presenting a surprising revision to the well-known tale. Original.
- Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice 1976 - The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale--with Louis' first-person confession to a skeptical boy--transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns--the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception--in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.
- Hotel Transylvania - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro 1978 The classic tale that introduced the legendary Le Comte de Saint-Germain, first published in 1978 and spawning 14 titles in the Saint-Germain epic, is now available in paperback. A fixture in 1740s Parisian society, Saint-Germain is a perfect gentleman--and a vampire. When the fiery young Madeline falls in love with him, a group of evil sorcerers targets her for their black mass--and only Saint-Germain can save her soul.
The Modern Vampire Stories
The Modern Vampire story comes in a variety of different sub-genres including:
- Dracula himself
- Vampire Hunters
- Vampire Erotica
- Graphic Novels
- Vampire Mystery
- Vampire Romance
- Vampire young Adult
The modern vampire novel is very diverse and just about all of the top writers have a series of books going. Here is a look at some of the top rated series in the genre.
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1) I really don't need to say anything about the series of vampire books. It is a phenomenon that has brought the vampire back into the limelight with the enormously popular books and the very successful movies. There are currently four books in the series. I have reviews of these books written by a guest writer
Here are some other choice picks from the vampire genre:
Laurell K. Hamilton has a series of books called the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series (currently has 18 books) and these books are very successful and very popular. This series of books has been described as mixing mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance.
This is the first book in the Anita Blake series.
Another popular series of books is The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
For years, Charlaine Harris has delighted fans with her mystery series featuring small-town waitress-turned-paranormal sleuth Sookie Stackhouse. Now, we are pleased to offer her first novel in the series in a special hardcover edition. And with HBO launching an all-new show, True Blood, based on the Southern Vampire novels, the demand for Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse will be bigger than ever. (A guest reviewer to this website has reviewed this novel here) There are currently nine books in this series.
The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith - The first book in this series is The Awakening. - I have a review of the first book in this series here. This series of books has spawned a television series on the CW called The Vampire Diaries although the television series is quite a bit different than the books.
Also is Sherrilyn Kenyons series of Dark Hunter novels
There are currently 13 books in this series and Sherrily Kenyon has been called "The Reigning Queen of the Vampire novel".
Whatever you are looking for in the vampire story genre there is certainly something you can find that will be great. There are so many great stories, great vampires and great series of works. There is actually so much of it that I would say you have to be immortal to read it all :)