I’ve always loved vampire books. The best ones twist the concept of ‘vampire’. They unsettle and disturb, reflecting back something about society. Of course they must still be thrilling.
I haven’t chosen the most obvious novels – for example, BRAM STOKER’S Dracula (1897) . Or LAURELL K HAMILTON’S Guilty Pleasures (1993).
If you love vampire fiction (and what’s not to love?) it’s hard to narrow down BUT here are ten of the best:
10. THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hugo (2009). Its most interesting aspect is its biological emphasis. The book’s centred on a vampiric virus and what happens when infected passengers from a Boeing 777 infect New York.
9. THE FLEDGLING by Octavia E. Butler (2005)
Brilliantly written. It has a decidedly sci-fi flavour and yet another twist on the meaning of ‘vampire’. It’s a great example of how horror and science fiction can be used to hold up a looking glass to society: racism, sexism and poverty.
8. LOST SOULS by Poppy Z Brite (1992)
A horror novel. Unique, graphic and evocative. The vampires are the anti-heroes. They can even feed on beauty and love, as well as blood.
7. FAT WHITE VAMPIRE BLUES by Andrew Fox (2003)
Who said vampire novels had to be serious? Darkly comic writing at its best. The fat, white vampire in question is Jules, a New Orleans vampire. He’s simply struggling to get by. Unexpected and original.
6. I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson (1954)
Haunting and disturbing. A study in loneliness. Robert is left as the sole survivor of a pandemic of a virus, which looks like vampirism.
5. LIVE GIRLS by Ray Garton (1987)
A cult classic. Followed by a sequel in 2005 Night Life. When Davey loses his job, girlfriend and self-esteem, he makes the mistake of visiting a seedy peepshow ‘Live Girls’…The novel is gritty and dark. Blood and sex are linked explicitly.
4. CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT by Dan Simmons (1992)
Vampirism is given a clear, scientific explanation. With a sci-fi feel, the novel is both realistic and disturbing.
3. THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
Kostova blends history and folklore of Vlad Tepes and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. This is the read for anyone who claims they’ll never read a vampire novel.
2. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN by John Ajvide Lindqviste (2004)
Freaky, in just the right way…About the relationship between Oskar, a twelve year-old boy and a centuries-old vampire child, Eli. It explores the darker side of humanity: alcoholism, bullying, anxiety, fatherlessness and murder. Yet it’s beautiful, poignant and haunting.
1. INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE by Anne Rice (1976)
All right, so this is well known…but Anne Rice is one of my favourite writers. A revisionist novel, which turned vampire fiction on its head. It contains a family unit of vampires. It also shows how a society of vampires would function.
My new vampire book – Blood Dragons – also twists the genre.
Blood Lifers are ‘the Lost’ species: a camouflaged predator. They’ve evolved alongside humans (First Lifers) but are hidden – both predator and prey.
Rebel Vampires Volume 1: Blood Dragons is released in paperback and e-book in August.