Guilty Pleasures? I feel no shame!

Totally necessary –
topless Eric

The fourth series of True Blood has just started in the U.S.  Based on the tremendously popular Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris; this bonkers, bloody and barmy series can’t make it to our shores soon enough for me!

And as I’ve just finished two ‘heavy’ reads – The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst for our book club, and Shanghai Nights by Juan Marse, lent to me by a book clubber (cheers L!) – this is the perfect time for me to sit back and  reflect on some of my favourite vampiric books!
Night World Series – L.J. Smith (who will NEVER finish it off now that the Vampire Diaries has taken off…sigh…)
A real solid starter here, these 9 YA books had me gripped in my younger years (and during a re-read about 3 years ago!!) and no doubt much of my affection for the genera can be laid at this door. The Night World is the world hidden beneath our own – witches and shifters and vampires all living out their lives right under our noses. And no one ever knows. Well, other than the teenagers these books are all about obviously!!
My personal favourite was Ash – bad boy gone good. Oh yeah, all the night world-ers were named after trees. I thought that was sooo cool. Still kinda do actually.
While the first 3 or 4 were only loosely linked, a thread began to emerge during the later books. THAT WAS NEVER RESOLVED AS BOOK 10 WAS NOT RELEASED!!! Ahem, I’m over it now, naturally, but oh the agonies my best friend and I went through!!
Anita Blake Series – Laurell K Hamilton (1993 – )

While I really enjoyed these books during my teenage years, I also feel totally betrayed by them.
The first 10 in the series are pretty awesome – a blend of supernatural/detective/thriller sort of thing – with one of the most kickass characters ever Anita Blake (nicknamed the Executioner by terrified vampiric hoards!!). These earlier books explore a society almost identical to our own, but where vampires and werewolves have been granted civil rights. And hellooooo Jean Claude!

However, in book 10 Anita becomes possessed with a really shoddy excuse to need sex every very hours. My beloved series became smut. Pure and simple. And I don’t mean that there are occasional sex scenes. I mean the story was replaced by increasingly improbably graphic sex – with vampires, werewolves, shifters in mid-change, the underage and often regardless of consent. Nothing against erotica, it just doesn’t do it for me {ahem}, I was also a bit too young for what the series became and I really missed seeing Anita kick ass, rather then …you know…that other thing.
I resent not being able to follow Anita’s adventures any more. Well, that’s a lie – the friends that I forced the series on way back when who still enjoy it have promised to lend their copies of the books to me if Anita ever gets back on her feet…[insert smutty pun here]

{Interesting sidebar – I am not alone in my disappointment about the direction that the series has taken. The author was forced to confront negativity from her fans on her blog. I was rather shocked when she advised those of us who didn’t enjoy any more to stop reading. Then told people off for being vocal about it. But I took her advice and passed the books en masse onto a mate I thought would enjoy them.}

The Sookie Stackhouse Series – Charlaine Harris (2001 – )
I discovered these books riiiight before the TV series was announced, while looking for something to help me with my Buffy cravings (SPPPPPPIIIIIIKKKKKKKEEEEE). And I’m so glad I did! Telepaths, were-wolves, shifters, vampires – heck – even faeries get an outing here! While there are some scenes of an adult nature {blushes}, the focus is much more on the characters and the momentum of the plot never falters for a second. Break neck speed throughout!
And violence. There’s some really good violence here – blood and guts and torture and with the screaming and shouting and moaning –  it’s good to get away from the slightly anaemic tortured en-souled vampires for a bit. Eric and Bill are manipulators, and I love it. The eternal triangle of the tv show is less so here too, which is a handy way of separating out the fandoms!In fact, I’ve made these the subject of my first read-a-thon.

Two other series that I quite enjoyed, but not as much as the above are –
Rachel Morgan/Hollows – Kim Harrison (2004 – )
Women of the Otherworld – Kelley Armstrong (2001 –

Maybe it was my fault – reading too many similar stories all at once – but these never quite stood apart for me.
And for those looking for books with a little less sizzle and a little more bite (OK, OK, I’ll stop now), you can’t do better than:
Dracula – Bram Stoker (1897)
Building on the Byronic image of Vampires; this is a Gothic love/horror story with all the elements that now define a classic in the genera. In my humble opinion, this remains a must read for anyone with the vaguest of interests as it provides the definitive template for vampires, their traits, mythology (though I’ll accept deviations when well written) and their interactions with humans.Only slight downside is that the story is terribly familiar to new initiates. You’ll have to take it on faith – there’s a reason every one uses it! Love it, Love IT, LOVE IT!!!
The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
One of the first books out book club ever read together; this is a [fictional] biography of the real Dracula[Vlad the Impaler]! The man behind the myth. Who is probably a monster! While the subject is ostensibly vampiric; this book is more of a love letter to the legends and myths of the noble dead that abound throughout Europe. OK, so it gets a little bogged down in places. Occasionally characters fail to sound unique or distinct from one another, but as historical romps go, this one is a delight!
I am Legend – Richard Matheson (1954)

So, I enjoyed the Will Smith block-buster a few years ago but the story it told suuuuure didn’t fit with my reading of the book! This is one of the most influential zombie books ever (where the infected have a vampiric disease). It’s focus on humanity and society – even when the human race seem to resemble neither – is a true head spinner. It was also – as far as I’m aware – one of the first books to regard vampirism as a disease, offering a scientific-ish explanation for the transformation from human to vampire.

And on my still-to-be-read-even-though-I’ve-lent-it-to-loads-of-people pile

Forever – Peter Hamill
An immigration tale with a twist…

(No list can be complete without the Queen of Vampires herself – Anne Rice. But this one will have to be. No insult here intended – but I’ve actually only read one of her Chronicles {Interview with a Vampire} and I didn’t enjoy it at all. The story was cool enough but the writing style really turned me off. It’s like Terry Prachett – you either love him or you don’t. Enjoyed the movies though.)

For my (piss) take on the Twishite Twilight Series [and recommendation instead for the Saga of the Noble Dead books by Barb and JC Hendee], please see here!

Coz what’s the point of a post on vampires without a cheeky pic of my favourite?
Spike from Buffy.
Blondie Bear!
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About Drneevil

Blogger, podcaster, reader, knitter. Founder of Leeds Book Club; host of Culturally Fixated; co-host of Conversations with Geek People; tech support for Leeds Browncoats.

Posted on July 12, 2011, in All Posts, Anita Blake, Avid Reader, Horror, LBC Book Reviews, Sci Fi and Fantasy, Southern Vampire Mysteries and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love the True Blood books but can't get on with the TV show.
    You might like the Morganville Vampire books by Rachel Caine, too. She also does the Weather Warden series (no vamps but other supernatural stuff). 🙂

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