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Friday, November 23, 2012

Top 10 Vampire Books You Haven't Read

Here's a sampling of some vampire books that you may have missed. These are a must-read for anyone interested in bloodsuckers!

1. The Light at the End by John Skipp- a vampire stalks the NY subway system and the oddest assemblage of vampire hunters in the world (a geeky film buff, a sexy goth, couriers, and a Holocaust survivor) are on his trail. Surprisingly dark and complex, this book takes place in the grittier, run-down NY of the early 1980's during punk rock's last gasp.

2. Carpe Jugulum - part of Terry Pratchett's Discword series (though you don't have to be familiar with his books to appreciate this one). By far the funniest take on vampires anywhere (and he throws in some witches, phoenixes, and a couple other mythological creatures). Forget Christopher Moore- this is the book you want for lighter reading on the subject.

3. Lost Souls - Poppy Z. Brite's masterpiece. This is a sensual, drug and rock-infused tale of vampire's, sex, and, of course, New Orleans. Though the story can be a bit convoluted at times, Brite's imagery is narcotic and her vampires are to die for!

4. The Traveling Vampire Show - Richard Laymon's coming of age book is beautifully written and perfectly paced with some genuinely creepy and lasting moments of terror. The ending sadly divulges into a ridiculous splatter fest, but read it anyway- the build-up is just that good. Winner of a Bram Stoker award.

5. Let the Right One in - this book stands up outside of the vampire genre. Lord of the Flies meets Dracula. It's brutally realistic and the characters will remain with you. In my opinion, this is one of the best vampire books, if not the best, of the last 30 years.

6. The Moth Diaries . Is she a vampire or isn't she? That's what the emotionally damaged narrator, a student at a secluded and claustrophobic all girl school, wrestles with as she becomes more unhinged. It's more Hitchcock than it is Charlaine Harris, but you'll find this book subtle, creepy, and unnerving.

7. Sunshine. Robin McKinley's semi post-apocalyptic tale of a world suffering the consequences of a 'Voodoo' war. McKinley drops the reader in the middle of a strange struggle with no compass and the details are exquisite and the fear, very real. The main character Sunshine, a baker and daughter of a famed sorcerer, is one of the more likable and believable characters you'll encounter in the genre.
8. Peeps- by Scott Westerfeld. A wholly unique take on the vampire mythos. Westerfield brings his knowledge of parasites and science heavily into play here and manages to make poetry out of it. The book, especially towards the end, tends to get bogged down in some of the scientific explanations and characters make some pretty broad logic jumps, but there's some nice surprises as well and the ending is far from neat which I always appreciate.
9. Vampire$- John Steakley's novel inspired the dismal film 'John Carpenter's Vampires', but don't let that dissuade you from picking up this fast-paced, macho, adrenalin-fueled novel. In a genre largely dominated by female writers (and female sensibilities-not that there's anything wrong with that), this book stands out as a wholly male take on vampire hunting. It's explosive, tragic, and the vampires are suckers in every sense of the word.
10. The Hunger- another book adapted to film (this one far more successfully). If you enjoyed the David Bowie film which first introduced the world to the wonderful vamp song Bela Lugosi is Dead, you'll love the book. A wonderful mixture of the scientific and the historical, the romantic and the horrific.
For classics, check out 'Varney the Vampire', 'Carmilla', 'For the Blood of the Life' (Algernon Blackwood) and Bram Stoker's 'Dracula's Guest' (a short story that was published separately from Stoker's masterpiece).
For more contemporary staples, be sure to read Interview with a Vampire, Dead Until Dark, Salem's Lot, The Historian, and I Am Legend (a very different book than the Will Smith movie).