Ten novels about vampires that don’t sparkleWritten by Sean Shannon | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As Halloween draws near, it’s helpful to remember vampires weren’t always associated with angsty pre-teen novels. Classic and modern literature is full of compelling bloodsuckers whose “camps” anyone can be proud to be part of.
- Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” is famous not only for being one of the earliest novel-length vampire tales — published in 1872, 25 years before Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” – but for having female protagonists (vampire and victim) in a quasi-lesbian relationship. It has been a strong influence on both vampire and lesbian fiction since its publication.
- The classic vampire novel, Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897) may be long by the standards of today’s novels, but its epistolary (in letters) format makes it easy to read. Film adaptations simply cannot capture all the social themes Stoker weaves into his writing, so if you only know Count Dracula from the silver screen, you need to give the novel a thorough reading.
- “I am Legend” (1954) by Richard Matheson takes vampirism and makes it a pandemic disease, creating an apocalyptic world that should appeal to today’s zombie-crazed culture. Matheson’s tale moves quickly and builds suspense like few authors of his era did. The novel was the basis or inspiration for several films, most notably “Night of the Living Dead.”
- Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot,” (1975) the author’s personal favorite of all the novels he’s written, is one of the better books centered around a town where all the residents are turning into vampires. King has woven the story into his “Dark Tower” novels, and also wrote short stories based on “Salem’s Lot” early in his career, leaving a wealth of material for readers who enjoy the original.
- No list of novels about vampires is complete without Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles,” particularly “Interview with the Vampire.” (1976). If you only associate Lestat with Tom Cruise, you need to read Rice’s crisp and chilling prose, little of which was captured in Cruise’s bland portrayal in the film adaptation. Later novels in the series fail to quicken the heart like the first, but are still must-reads for vampire aficionados.
- Poppy Z. Brite’s first novel, “Lost Souls,” (1992) contains one of the most compelling modern vampire characters in fiction, the young Nothing. Also featuring Brite’s beloved Steve and Ghost tandem, “Lost Souls” turned the vampire genre on its head when it was first published and still stands up today as enthralling, engrossing fiction.
- Kim Newman’s “Anno Dracula” (19920 revisits Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” universe, creating an alternate timeline where Count Dracula is not destroyed by Jonathan Harker, but rather marries Queen Victoria and spreads vampirism throughout Great Britain. It has spawned a series of novels and short stories, all of which are compelling, although readers should familiarize themselves with Stoker’s original novel first.
- One of the more successful comedic skewerings of the genre, Terry Pratchett’s “Carpe Jugulum” (1998) is readable without extensive knowledge of Pratchett’s Discworld series in which it’s set, but is more accessible to Pratchett fans than newcomers.
- “Let the Right One In” (2004) by John Ajvide Lindqvist focuses on the relationship between a human boy and a young vampire to explore modern issues like bullying in a dark and gripping way. The themes may be too dark for some, but those who can stomach Lindqvist’s strong writing will be rewarded.
- “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2010) by Seth Grahame-Smith contains the same mash-up of literature and comedy first made famous by Grahame-Smith’s bestselling “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” Not bogged down by the latter’s necessity to follow 19th century literary conventions, this books moves at a much faster pace, ideal for modern readers.