Monday, 9 May 2016

Why vampire fiction doesn't suck (or, don't judge a book by its trope!)

"I don't read vampire books."
– a frequent lamentation of some readers on the interwebs

Should you not choose a book just because it has a vampire in it?
Image care of GDPrince
Vampire books seem to get a bad rap sometimes. In my time on the interwebs, I've noticed a fair share of book bloggers and forum frequenters disparaging vampire books and putting a blanket ban on reading them. Perhaps I'm particularly sensitive about the topic since my vampire book, a novella, once earned a 1 star review just because it's a vampire book! (Check it out on Amazon UK if you're interested.) So, whenever the topic comes up I'm on it quicker than you can say 'Dracula'.

Dracula – the original vampire story
Speaking of Dracula, it's one of the reasons readers (particularly literary readers) shouldn't ignore a book simply because it's about vampires. Dracula is a wonderful work of dark gothic literature. I love its epistolary style, especially the foreboding voice of Jonathan Harker's journal as he documents strange observations during his stay in Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania. Here's a favourite quote:
"... my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings."
Dracula is an eminent example of scary anticipation!

Now, it's certainly not my intention to suggest that people can't have preferences when it comes to choosing books. My whole point is simply not to close one's mind to a book based on one element. It has been the call of many a wise person to "read widely" and that is certainly a valuable mantra to live (and read) by.

So glad I decided to ignore my zombie 'prejudice' and watch
The Walking Dead
I've experienced a similar 'prejudice' when I once disregarded anything to do with zombies. I never picked up a book, or watched anything to do with them – I had a misguided presumption that it was all a load of #&@#! Then I discovered The Walking Dead and I realised it was actually about humanity, power, survival and working together – all in a thrilling post-apocalyptic yet hauntingly familiar world. It's a great character-driven story that I would have missed out on if I didn't put my 'prejudice' aside.

Fevre Dream by George RR Martin
It's on my to read list
Of course, many will think of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, and its a thrilling read (did you know they're making the film?). But, lots of famous authors have written their own version of the mythology, from Stephen King with Salem's Lot to George RR Martin with Fevre Dream. Why? Because its such an intriguing mythology that explores the notion of the monstrous within and the tug of war between good and evil. The mythology is fascinating – frequently a mix of mystery, magic, power, morality, violence and sexuality. Vampire mythology is such a rich one with riveting power and dangerous limitations – if an author can create a cast of equally rich characters the vampire book is something to savour.

Still not convinced? Imagine not watching Buffy just because you don't like vampire stories. Need I say more?

Aderyn's own vampire trilogy begins with The Viscount's Son.

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