Ever since Bram Stoker brought vampires to the minds of readers everywhere with his iconic novel, “Dracula”, people have been fascinated by the “undead”.
Living but not alive, these creatures capture our imagination with their ability to defy the very laws of nature. We marvel at their preternatural beauty, gasp at their occasional viciousness and read with fascination as they pick and choose their victims, secretly wishing we were among their choices.
However, fictional vampires have come a long way since “Dracula”. Reinvented in 1976 with the publication of “Interview With the Vampire” by the reigning “Queen of the Vampires”, Anne Rice, the modern day vampire of recent novels comes complete with glitter, teenage angst and the ability to sire children though clinically dead (and that’s just from one popular vampire series).
In recent years, we have seen the vampire and vampire origin change from the suave stranger cursed by God, through beautiful and extremely powerful creatures who can trace their beginnings to the most ancient of times, through mindless, brutal monsters led by one master and suffering from a horrible blood disease. One of the most popular supernatural novels this year told the story of a psychic vampire who drained his victims of their life force, just as easily as the vampire of old did by drinking blood.
Though the list of vampires and vampire novels is seemingly endless, this list is a compendium of the “ My Top 5 Favorite Vampire Novels” as chosen by the “Tampa Bay Books Examiner”. Once again, this list, as all lists, is subjective and up to personal opinion. I hope you enjoy it and can count some of our favorites as your own.
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
This novel by an unknown author caught the publication world and its readers by storm. An intimate book set in a small town in Sweden, it tells the story of 12 yr. old Oskar, an unpopular kid who is constantly bullied and has no friends.
That is, until a new girl moves in next door. Odd and slightly sickly, Oskar is drawn to her mysterious nature, as well as, her willingness to be his friend. It never occurs to him that she doesn’t come out in the day or that her arrival in town coincides with the strange murder of a teenager drained of all his blood.
Great storytelling with just the right amount of “edge of your seat” truly scary moments, “Let the Right One In” is a future classic.
The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston
The Joe Pitt Casebooks is a series of 5 books that include “Already Dead”, “No Dominion”, “Half the Blood of Brooklyn”, “Every Last Drop” and “My Dead Body”.
Each book tells the story of Joe Pitt, an “unaffiliated” vampire struggling to get by in NYC, a town run by rival vampire clans fighting for every extra inch of turf on which to feed. Their thirst for power equals their thirst for blood as they dream of the day they can come out of the dark and be on equal or superior footing to their inferiors, the humans.
Told in his classic “crime-noir” style, The Joe Pitt Casebooks is a cross between “The Wanderers” by Richard Price and any Damon Runyon short story. New York City is as much a pivotal character in his books as New Orleans is to an Anne Rice vampire novel.
Fun and exciting, Charlie Huston made vampires cool.
The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
In an obvious homage to the classic “Dracula”, The Strain begins its tale with the arrival of a plane at JFK Airport in New York City. Everyone on board is dead with no apparent cause as the CDC is called to rule out contamination.
Things go from bad to worse, as the bodies are moved to the city morgue only to disappear during the course of the night. And, as quickly as it begins, it is over. The city and its denizens are considered a lost cause by the government as the “disease” threatens to spread beyond its borders and become a world-wide epidemic.
Well written and different from other vampires and vampire stories, The Strain is an exciting ride on an unstoppable train that leaves the reader with white knuckles and begging for more.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Written in 1897 by Bram Stoker, this iconic vampire novel stands the test of time as a century later it is still the image of the classic vampire that most people envision when they hear the word.
The novel tells the story of Count Dracula, a suave, eccentric gentleman who is planning a move from his home in Transylvania to England. When Jonathan Harker arrives to facilitate the process, he is quickly charmed by the Count, only learning later on that he is not a guest in Dracula’s castle but a prisoner. Not soon after, his strange ways come to light and it becomes very apparent that Dracula is no normal man.
Gothic, horrifying, and way ahead of its time, Dracula continues to be the seminal vampire novel upon which most vampire novels are measured.
Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice
Considered the book that redefined a genre, Interview With the Vampire broke new ground in 1976 when Anne Rice first envisioned her beautiful creatures as tortured outsiders struggling with the concept of drinking the blood of humans to continue their own tortured existence.
Fill of memorable characters, including “The Brat Prince” Lestat, Anne Rice’s lush tale of immortals has wonderfully descriptive imagery, ambiguous sexual identities and the first set of same-sex parents. Set in her hometown of New Orleans, the city is as much a part of the story as any character within its pages.
Though, she’s given up her vampires for werewolves, Rice’s millions of fans worldwide never give up hope of one day reading about their favorite characters. This novel set the stage for the rest of “The Vampire Chronicles” and crowned the reigning “Queen of Vampires” forever.
I hope you enjoyed the Tampa Bay Books Examiner list of Top 5 Vampire Novels. If you have, please hit the subscribe button above to receive all my work as soon as its published.
And, for all things Anne Rice, please visit the Anne Rice Examiner page.
See you next time!