Tag Archives: no sparkle

My Top Five Vamper Novels…

As promised last week, I’m going to take a hot minute to list my top five vampire books. Mind you, these are novels, so I’m not including vampire movies or comics or television shows. I read these books once every couple of years and I’m always finding different reasons to love them. I think readers are hard pressed to find better bloodsucker fiction out there. The five listed here have influenced my love of vampires and still do, and since I want you to read them (if you haven’t), I’m going to give a very brief “this is why I loved it” paragraph about each one and I’m going to list them in reverse order, from 5 to 1.

5. Vampire$ by John Steakley

vampire$Where do I start here? Vampire hunters who work for the church and are paid well for it. Deals well with the religious aspect of vampirism (being on hallowed ground hurts, which speaks to the existence of God), as well as the toll hunting the undead might take on a person. They kill hard, drink hard, and die hard. The vampires are mean, they have an agenda, and this novel is good on so many levels it’d take two or three blog posts to cover them all. If you’ve only seen John Carpenter’s film based on the book, do your brain a favor and get the real deal. Read the book.

4. Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson

midnightmassF. Paul Wilson is one of my favorite authors. With this book, Wilson also deals with religion in vampirism, but he does it differently than Steakley does. You see, the main character is a rabbi and he doesn’t like the implications of vampires fearing the cross and holy water sizzling on their skin. Along with that, we have an interesting cast of characters, which stick out to me still for their diversity: the rabbi, a drunked out and blacklisted priest, a lesbian, and a nun. Plus, the vampires are mean as hell, and it’s one of the first books I remember reading where vampires have human lackeys working for them. The last battle for these characters takes place in the church of the blacklisted priest, and it’s a fight that will restore hope to the human race. If the humans can win, that is.

3. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

iamlegendcoverI’m not sure if this book even needs more words written about it, as it’s a classic in every sense of the word. However, like any book, it’s impact on readers vary and I’m not excluded from that. I’m sure what I loved about it, another person may have hated. For me, it was always Neville’s loneliness, and how he took to Cortman in the novel. It didn’t humanize the vampires (as a whole) that showed up at Neville’s door, but it illustrated how a man can humanize a single entity in the group, can empathize and have sympathy for something that’s perceived evil. This book is one of the main reasons why I believe reading makes us better humans, better able to relate to people who aren’t quite like us. If you’re that rare vampire fan (meaning you’re probably very young) who hasn’t read this book, then do it. Today.

2‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

salemslotcoverAnother classic vampire tale that doesn’t need an in depth discussion from the likes of me. I’ll cut right to the chase and what made this book stand out for me was King’s willingness to turn kids into vampires. It was one of the first books I’d read that killed kids without really a second thought. That, of course leads into King’s quiet destruction of the entire town, where even good people end up dying and, really, for what? There’s a certain amount of hope that’s stripped out of the world when you read this book at a young age, simply because King shows us that small and tranquil doesn’t mean shit-all for safety. Everything (and everybody) hides something from the world, and usually that something is heinous.

1. They Thirst by Robert McCammon

theythirstcoverAnd we’re to my top vampire novel. The reason is simple, which is that They Thirst encapsulates the best elements of the other books on my list. McCammon’s novel is a larger version of King’s novel, insofar as the vampires are after Los Angeles as opposed to a small town in Maine. McCammon addresses the religious aspect of vampirism, but takes it to the next level, he pits an odd mix of humans against the seemingly unstoppable force of vampires, and there’s a sense of isolation despite the large L.A. setting. And beyond that, there was something beautiful about McCammon’s descriptions in this book that turned L.A. into a character, and this is the first book where I really noticed the setting as character. They Thirst, in my opinion, stands as one of the seminal vampire novels of the last 50 years. There you have it, my top five vampire novels.

Next week, I’ll range into my top five vampire movies…

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Because FANG YOU, that’s why!

I remember when vampires were fucking cool.

“The Lost Boys”

And I’m not talking so cool they sparkle in the sunlight instead of explode into a ball of flame, but rather they were wild hair, big teeth, leather wearing and motorcycle riding cool. They were large revolver, “hate ’em when they ain’t been shaved” spur-wearing cool. Or turtleneck and sweater with nice slacks and a suave haircut, “you’ve gotta have faith for that to work” crushing a crucifix fucking cool.

Because apparently, now, vampires are no longer undead, but dead-dead, killed to death by books such as the Twilight saga, The Vampire Diaries, and a number of other series where the focus isn’t on monster vampires, but hunky, romantic, and steamy vampires. While I’m not a fan of those books, saying that the vampire is dead because of them is bullshit. That’s right, I’m calling bullshit on the statement. If you’re one of those people who think the above mentioned (or any other vampire novel/series) outright destroyed the vampire, not only are you stupid, but you’re not really a fan of vampire fiction.

Some other pertinent thoughts… do vampires sparkle? No. Are they sexy fuck-machines ala the Sookie Stackhouse books? No. Are they bonded to humans and werewolves in some magic/power triangle ala the Anita Blake series? No. Though, in all fairness to the last two series, the vampires in them do kill, and often, but I feel the other stuff overshadows the vampires acting like the kind of vampires I enjoy reading.

thestraincoverSo, you’re a vampire fan and you’re disgusted with the current state of vampire fiction. Well, let’s examine things a bit, shall we? Twilight came out in 2005 and since then, more than a few good bloodsucker books have come out. Pay attention, there might be a quiz at the end. The Strain, published in 2009, and currently going into season 2 of its television show; Draculas, published in 2010; the graphic novel American Vampire, also published in 2010; V-Wars, an anthology of short vampire fiction published in 2013, and even my own novel, They Are Among Us, which was published a month ago. And there’s more, of course; I haven’t read every vampire novel released since 2005, but that doesn’t change my point.

Just because Twilight is huge doesn’t mean our kind of vampire novel isn’t being written, if you’re willing to look for it. Horror has always been a bastard child and bastards tends to stick together, hidden and huddling from the masses. You really do have to keep your ear to the ground for these horror vampire novels as the chance they’ll hit the mainstream is slim at best.  And while horror fans don’t crave angst-y, blood-semen filled vampires, the creatures are capable of thought, and therefore emotion, so really, it’s not so far out of the box to think they’re capable of falling in love under the rainy sky of Forks. The flip side to the romantic teenaged bloodsucker is, of course, the rage machine vampire. It should be noted that raging vampires killing anything with a pulse should be a rarity, and vampires should almost never be mindless. Seriously, if you want a soulless, unthinking killing machine, go read a zombie novel.

What I’m driving at is something like 30 Days of Night. Those were deadly vampires, purposeful, and bloody as hell. Or take the novel Draculas (mentioned above) where the vampires start out as these savage creatures with large jaws and massive teeth and a blood lust second to none, but toward the ends things begin to change, and we see something altogether different.

Let’s face it, even the classic vampire tales by which most others are truly judged, had nuanced vampires in them: Dracula, I Am Legend (thinking of Cortman), and I think most people will agree that Lestat was a fucking vampire and a half. You hate him in the first book, love him in the second, and by the time Memnoch has him, you wish something would just kill him.

And that’s really the true beauty of the vampire, this ability to be many things to many different readers. The type of vampire you like to read is out there, and all you have to do is look for it.

Vampires are still fucking cool.

Join me next week where I talk about my 5 favorite vampire novels, those that gave me my love for our favorite fanged freaks…

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