The 7 most blood-suckingly brilliant books about vampires

What goes around, comes around, right? And not just in life. In popular culture and fiction as well. Take zombies, for example. Those brain-feeding, foot-shambling wanna-be paragons of the undead have dominated the horror genre bookshop shelves for quite a few years now.

Well, I’m calling it. Step aside, zombies, you’ve had your day in the sun. It’s time to embrace vampires again.

Here’s the 7 most blood-suckingly brilliant books about vampires that every book lover needs in their life.

1.Interview with the Vampire

Anne Rice’s grand debut gothic novel about the Vampire Lestat and his easy-on-the-eye offsider, Louis, is the book that got me hooked on the whole vampire genre. And what a book. Lavish locations, lavish language and a twist-filled plot to die for. It tells the story of angsty plantation owner Louis de Pointe du Lac as he reveals to a journalist how he became a vampire two hundred years ago. And, in the best tradition of ‘when good vampires go bad’, what he did in the years since. When you’re done with the first Rice vampire book, there’s a whole series of Vampire Chronicle novels to get through.

Interview with the Vampire by Ann Rice, Little Brown Book Group. RRP$22.99.

2. Dracula

If you haven’t read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, can you even call yourself a vampire novel fan? I think not. Stoker’s quintessential vampire story sees trusting lawyer Jonathan Harker dispatched to Transylvania to help Count Dracula buy a London pad. He finds all manner of terrifying, unexplainable things in the Count’s castle … but the horrors don’t end there. Soon strange things begin happening in England – ships turn up with missing crews, young women turn up with missing blood and a vampire hunter, Abraham van Helsing, comes to town to battle with the Count. Not just a rollicking ye olde vampyre tale, Stoker also hangs his story on Victorian backroom hang-ups relating to sexuality and desire. A classic for good reason.

Dracula by Bram Stoker, Penguin Classics, RRP$16.99.

3. Salem’s Lot

Salem's lot - books about vampires

Rice and Stoker’s vampire characters stick with you, for sure. But no-one creates vampires that frighten the living hell out of you quite like Stephen King. His vampires that haunt Salem’s Lot are a devilish lot. And none of them more terrifying than head vampire Kurt Barlow. This ancient bloodsucker slides into the town of Salem’s Lot one night and slowly starts turning the place into a vampire free-for-all. The townsfolk, led by just-returned local writer Ben Mears, put up a valiant fight with crosses and holy water and wooden stakes. But Barlow ain’t having any of that. King at his classic, vampirish best.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, RRP$22.99.

4. Fevre Dream

Before George R.R. Martin was thrilling us with tales of Westeros, he was conjuring up a world where vampires reigned supreme. That world was Fevre Dream, widely considered one of the greatest vampire novels of “all time”. It tells the story of a 19th century riverboat captain who goes into business with a debonaire gentleman. A gentleman who brings a bunch of buddies on board their boat. A bunch of buddies who never seem to leave their rooms during the day. And who quite like the taste of blood. A bunch of buddies who end up in a fierce battle with a rival group of vampires. It’s a twisted tale of humanity and immortality, all set on the glorious Mississippi River.

Fevre Dream by George R.R Martin, Random House, RRP$29.99.

5. I am Legend

best books about vampires

Stephen King was inspired to write after reading Matheson’s spine-chilling tale of vampires. And that’s a good enough reason to pick up this book. The fact that it’s one of the best novels of its type is a bonus. Call it the thinking person’s vampire book, if you like. Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth, after a pandemic turned everyone else into blood-sucking monsters who only come out in the dark. By day, he hunts the infected creatures. By night, he hides as they return the favour. At its heart, it is a tale of loneliness, of how we crave human company. And of what happens when we can’t find it.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson, Tor Books, RRP$17.99.

6. Dead Until Dark

Vampire books can be funny, sure. It’s not all blood and gore and dark sexual undertones and biting of throats. Sometimes the sex is way in your face, like with Dead Until Dark, the first in the wildly popular Sooki Stackhouse series. More paranormal romance than strict horror, it’s the very same book series that hit TV screens as True Blood. Sooki Stackhouse is a sassy, mind-reading waitress with a heart of gold – and a rack to match. She spends her days sassing the customers of the roadhouse where she works, waiting for a vampire to stroll on in so she can have her way with him – I mean, fall in love with him. Enter Bill Compton (yeah, not a very vampish name, I agree). If you like your vampire lore with a rather large side serve of sexy times, you’re going to love Sooki and co.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, Penguin, RRP$15.99.

7. Carmilla

Now, I’ve saved the original vampire tale til last. If you think Dracula was the novel that kicked off the whole vampire publishing phenomenon more than a century ago, you’d be wrong. That honour goes to Carmilla, penned in Ireland back in 1871 and also lauded as the first vampire book with lesbian leanings. Carmilla is a beautiful, irresistible woman. And a blood-sucking vampire. Her victims of choice? Other beautiful young women, including Laura, the effervescent teenage daughter of an English nobleman. Unfortunately for the age-old Carmilla, Laura’s father is a rather protective fellow and finds a vampire hunter to smoke her out and smite her when he learns she’s been visiting his daughter in her bed at night.

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Heseperus Press, RRP$29.99.

best books about vampires

Want to sink your fangs into more vampire books? Then check out the new Twilight saga book, Midnight Sun, that’s coming soon from Stephenie Meyer. And take a look too at the top 100 books everyone needs to read.

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