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Usually, we give you reference books or source books – books to read ABOUT something, so that you can learn. Sometimes that gets kind of old, doesn’t it? This edition of 7 Books is about fiction – the best stories about vampires. They are listed here in order of publication, and there is a very wide span of years represented here. Also – you won’t find any sparkly vampires on this list.
Carmilla – by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Le Fanu was an Irishman, and Carmilla is set in Austria. Published in 1872, the novel tells about a seductive female vampire with the same name who tempts and seduces Laura, a young girl who lives in a large forest. This was a boundery-breaking novel – from the main female characters to the implied lesbian themes at work, Le Fanu was obviously an author ahead of his time. He was breaking rules thirty years before the fin-de-siecle period that would spawn Dracula. Le Fanu’s novel is cited as an influence by Bram Stoker, whose novel is next on our list.
Dracula – by Bram Stoker
Along came 1897, and another Irishman decided to tackle the subject of vampires. There have been so many movies based on Dracula that not many people take the time to read it, which is a shame, because it is certainly a compelling and beautifully written novel. It not only presents a story about a vampire, but it also explores themes of sexuality, religion, and politics in a really interesting, not oppressive way.
Salem’s Lot – by Stephen King
Salem’s Lot was King’s second novel, and was published in 1975. The novel’s hero is Ben Mears, a writer (big shocker there) who discovers that his town is infested with vampires. It’s scary, thrilling, compelling, and awesome. King loves to link his mythologies together, so many of his other works reference Salem’s Lot. Notably, The Dark Tower series, which is considered to be King’s opus. King reportedly took his inspiration for Salem’s Lot from Dracula, and also from the works of the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.
Interview With The Vampire – by Anne Rice
Of course this made the list. How could it not? While many Rice fans claim that the second book in the series, titled The Vampire Lestat, is better, I don’t agree. This novel has the tension, the characters, and everything else it takes to make a great novel. Published in 1976, the novel starts off with the vampire Louis telling his story to a young reporter. From page 1, you’re hooked. The Vampire Chronicles have 10 novels total, but I stopped reading after Merrick, and should have stopped reading after The Queen of the Damned. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Lost Souls – by Poppy Z. Brite
Brite’s first novel, Lost Souls is torn right from the soul of any early-nineties goth soul. The characters are compelling, the ethereal Ghost, the all-too-human Steve, the horrifying Zillah, and the tortured Nobody, and though the plot is certainly melodramatic, the novel is thoroughly readable. Published in 1992, the novel is an extension of a short story called “The Seed of Lost Souls.”
Bloodsucking Fiends – by Christopher Moore
Solemn? No. Overly dramatic? Nope. Hilarious? Heck yeah. Moore, who has written some truly fabulous novels, kicks off his vampire trilogy with this novel, which centers on a main character named Jody. Jody has a mundane life until she is attacked by a vampire, killed, and then comes back as one of the undead. A truly enjoyable novel.
Sunshine – by Robin McKinley
Published in 2003, Sunshine is a novel about a girl named Rae – nicknamed Sunshine. In Sunshine’s world the humans are in a constant struggle with the “Others,” the supernatural entities that threaten to take over the world after the Voodoo Wars. Sunshine meets a vampire named Constantine, who has a conscience and ends up fighting along with Sunshine to keep the world safe for humans. McKinley has a real talent, and even if you don’t like vampire stories you will likely enjoy this novel.
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