Even though the nation’s vampire craze has faded due to the rise of zombie popularity, the core fanbase is still alive and well. And for those vampire lovers who are ready to move beyond their Twilight phase, there are plenty of books out there to feed the addiction. Here’s a primer on some of the best vampire books around:
Classic vampire fiction lovers will always fall at Mrs. Rice’s feet. Her ability to craft characters is one all writers should envy. In the realm of bloodsuckers, hers are often the most loved. The Vampire Chronicles is a series that stretches across 10 novels (with number 11 due out later this year) mainly set around one of her most famous characters, Lestat de Lioncourt, an 18th century French boy turned into a vampire at a young age and then abandoned to figure out his new “life” on his own. You’ll probably recognize the title Interview with a Vampire as it was adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and a very young Kirsten Dunst in the early ’90s.
Smith’s plots have many twists and turns, but the series’ main focus is the tug-of-war between vampire brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore over American high-schooler, Elena. The first 7 books are written by Smith, while books 8 through 10 were penned by an undisclosed ghostwriter, and the latest in the series, books 11-13, are by Aubrey Clark. Despite the different authors, the series has retained its popularity which lead to the widely popular CW Television Network TV series adaptation with the same name. Its high school setting gives the series plenty of room for drama and angst.
There is a small town in Texas housing a very big secret. Morganville is home to a lot of vampires. Like, a lot. Claire Danvers, the protagonist, is a 16-year-old girl genius who got accepted early into the local college, then accidentally discovers this secret and her life is never the same again. Lucky for her, these vampires—for the most part—are civilized and want to live—for the most part—peacefully with humans. Girl genius actually ends up having her brain put to use by the big-wig vamps. How does she manage working for vampires, college classes, and a boyfriend? Read and find out. Currently, the series is 15 books strong with the possibility of more to come.
This series is based around a fictional high school whose classes are only at night since its students are all vampire fledglings hoping to survive ‘the change’ into full vampires. If they survive, they are basically promised a life on easy street since vampires in this world are equivalent to celebrities. The protagonist, Zoey Redbird, and her close group of friends struggle with surviving the transformation and the social hell that is high school hierarchy. Throughout all the plotlines, Zoey wins and loses friends’ trust, and questions herself and those around her constantly. So, she’s your typical teenager who happens to be developing a couple of extra vampire traits. Also, these vampires develop sweet tattoos as they transition to complete night-dwellers. The series currently contains 12 novels, all of which are co-authored by P.C. and Kristin, her young daughter—who lends her teen knowledge to the dialogue. The series also has four novellas (short novels) for fans who just can’t get enough.
Another private school just for vampires, but this one also contains half-vampire counterparts, Dhampirs, who act like bodyguards for normal vampires, known as Moroi. Sound a bit confusing? Don’t worry, it’s all explained in the first few chapters of the first book. The series is complete with six novels and a film adaptation, which was in theaters earlier this year. While the novels are told from Dhampir Rose’s perspective, the main story revolves around Rose and her Moroi best friend, Lissa, who is also vampire royalty. The two discover a disastrous plot among the Dhampir and Moroi nobles and race against the clock to save the day. Along the way, they encounter new love interests, old heartbreak, and lots of action and adventure.
The best-selling series, also known as The Southern Vampire Mysteries, that spawned HBO’s True Blood is even freakier than the show. While the main storyline revolves around a vampire love triangle there is a plethora of supporting characters ranging from fairies to werewolves to ancient demonic creatures who eat human flesh. It’s got a full cast of witches, telepaths, and shape-shifters as well. Something for everyone, really. Altogether there are 13 books in the series, but if that’s not enough for you, don’t worry, Harris has also written multiple companion pieces including short stories and novellas. Also, lots of sexy-time. As always, I suggest reading the series before watching the adaptation. But if you’ve already seen the show, that’s okay, you’ll still find many surprises between the covers.
You probably recognize the title from the 2007 film starring Will Smith, but that movie deviates from the book quite a bit. So if you saw the movie first, don’t let that discourage you from reading the book. The vampires definitely aren’t as pretty as Edward Cullen in this novel, but the apocalyptic premise is intriguing and it’s a refreshing read for those looking for a scarier type of monster. The main character, Robert Neville, believes himself to be the sole survivor of a disease that greatly resembles vampirism. He survives on his own for years while simultaneously searching for a cure. But the survivors of the disease have mutated beyond their feral beginnings and their opinion of Robert, who has spent years killing as many of their kind as possible, isn’t very high.
Last, but certainly not least, comes the most famous vampire novel of all, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Originally published in 1897, the best-seller has since gained a cult-like following. To date, the book has countless film and television adaptations. Even if you know the book’s basic premise, it’s worth the read. Trust me. The novel is set up in an epistolary format, meaning it’s told through diary entries and letters written by the various main characters. There are multiple protagonists throughout the story, but we are first introduced to Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor who meets Count Dracula in London and is later lured to his castle. The story only gets more complicated from there.
Cetoria Tomberlin is a poet and fiction writer originally from South Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Berry College. Her work has previously appeared in Fairy Tale Review, LADYGUNN, McSweeney’sand various other places. Find her on the internet @Cetoria and readingcetoria.wordpress.com.