Stories to Read if Twilight Ruined Vampires for You
Not Just Another Vampire Post
Since Twilight was published back in 2005, the figure of the vampire has exploded in pop culture among all generations from around the world. Though now that the genre is so desired - there's even a "Teen Paranormal Romance" section at Barnes & Noble - the subject seems overdone. Vampires are more like a fad to most people of this century and people practically roll their eyes when they hear about new vampire books or movies.
But that's all wrong. There are plenty of fiction novels about vampires that don't deal with teenagers falling in forbidden love and supernatural love triangles and anything else cluttering up that mainframe. Novels you may have heard of, which are famous for a reason, and some you may not know, which I hope you'll consider reading the next rainy day you have, culminate in the cannon of vampire literature that we today should more fully appreciate.
Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
Did you really think this wouldn't be on here? And interestingly enough, most people have actually never read Dracula. (It's like Frankenstein - you know the image of the monster as they've been portrayed in movies but you don't know anything about the story from the novel.) There is no vampire romance at all in this novel, first of all, and the characters are stereotypes on purpose to convey the underlying message of the story, which I won't divulge here. I'll admit, it's harder to get through than modern novels because of Stoker's wordiness, but it's definitely worth the struggle. The battle of good versus evil is manifested into "the other" that is the vampire Count Dracula, the horrible force that the Crew of Light must end immediately. This vampire is scary, repulsive, life-threatening, and mysterious. When you read it, you'll laugh in Edward Cullen's sparkly face.
Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1871)
Another oldie-but-goodie here, and I'll be very impressed if anyone has read this. Written likewise by an Irish writer but almost 30 years earlier, Carmilla the vampire is one of the most multi-dimensional vampire characters I have come across, especially one that's female. It was considered so taboo for the time that even today it raises a couple eyebrows because of the homosexual undertones it carries with it when two girls, Carmilla and Laura, become friends. Strange things start to happen in the town after the mysterious Carmilla appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and it is up to Laura and her father to piece together her new friend's actual story.
"Christabel" by Samuel Coleridge (1816)
Throwing it back with another one that pre-dates Dracula (just to prove they existed, and because they deserve to be on this list), Coleridge's narrative poem "Christabel" is, like Le Fanu's, a story that explores female homosexuality in a veiled and nineteenth-century fashion, leaving much of the scenes and details to the imagination of the reader. Similar to the previous stories on this list, there is no romantic teenage happy ending, but rather Christabel surviving the presence of the vampire Geraldine and the struggle to escape the clutch of death. Interested? Read it here for free!
The Blood of the Vampire by Florence Marryat (1897)
Known as "the other vampire novel" when it was published, The Blood of the Vampire demonstrates the reaction of British society to "the other" like Dracula, but the protagonist Harriet Brandt is believed to have vampire blood in her veins. When she gets close to people they turn up sick or dead and no one can figure out why until they configure her genealogy. Harriet, however, is not a vampire in the traditional sense, so she doesn't feed on victims or express homosexual tendencies towards young females. Instead, she travels from her native Jamaica to Great Britain and her alluring beauty, intelligence, and exotic "otherness" earn her attention from men and women alike.
The Dark Heroine (2012) and Autumn Rose (2014) by Abigail Gibbs
Fast forward 100-some years and we arrive at the Dinner with a Vampire series, the first two books being The Dark Heroine and Autumn Rose. The author, Abigail Gibbs, was only 19 years old when she published the first novel, and even though you can tell she's still working out the kinks in her writing and developing her own style, this series is worth looking at. This one, I have to admit, is more like Twilight than anything else with its teenage romance between a human girl and a vampire boy, but the story is so developed to be something much more than just the trials of love tested by supernatural intervention. The characters are refreshing in that you don't immediately fall in love with the vampire, Kaspar, and don't root for him and Violet, the human, to get together until later. Their relationship develops over months and it is by no means love at first sight, which is something notable in today's vampire romances.
The Dark Heroine follows Violet Lee and Kaspar Varns from her being kidnapped to her meeting the entire royal family of Varns and the rest of their vampire community. As Violet struggles with the decision to turn a vampire or be killed, she is presented with a third option, one that no one could have predicted.
Autumn Rose is from the perspective of the Sage named Autumn Rose, a very powerful girl whose magical assistance is needed when the nine dimensions of the world threaten to break out into a supernatural war. Autumn is a character we meet in the first book, but the reader gets her backstory that lays more plot puzzle pieces that further explain the world Gibbs has created.
The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (2014)
A Discovery of Witches (2011), Shadow of Night (2013), and The Book of Life (2014) are the three novels that make up Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, the last of which just came out a little over a month ago. Like Gibbs, this was the first fiction piece Harkness published (she has produced scholarly articles because of her historian career) and it had kinks, too, but this story offers vampire fans a twenty-first century spin on the usual bloodsuckers: they're adults, in their early thirties, and they travel all around the world (and even back in time) to discover the origin of the four humanoid species on Earth - humans, vampires, witches, and demons. As witch Diana and vampire Matthew attempt to unravel the mystery of their genetics and balance their romance in a less-than-approving supernatural world, the reader is taken through a more mature vampire fantasy story that sets a new standard for vampire literature in the modern world.
A Discovery of Witches introduces the main characters, Diana Bishop, a witch descended from the Salem Witch Trials, and Matthew Clairmont, a renowned biologist and secretive vampire, and their pursuit of a specific manuscript that can explain the different species. However, Diana's reluctance to use magic causes issues, as does their growing attachment to one another.
Shadow of Night picks up right where its prequel left off, and Diana and Matthew are in Elizabethan England to try to find the sacred manuscript and help Diana with her magic that no one seems to understand. The couple hit a snag with being back in Matthew's time, and it takes more than just wearing the time-appropriate clothes to survive the journey.
The Book of Life is the conclusion to the trilogy of Diana and Matthew, where loose ends are finally tied and resolutions are made with characters, romances, and manuscripts. Having made it back from Elizabethan England to modern day, Diana and Matthew must balance their lives in the past with their lives they return to and face the consequences of finding answers.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (1876)
Like Dracula, this is a classic vampire novel. Louis, the main vampire who is being interviewed, was a whole new kind of vampire when he was introduced in the late 70's, and immediately Rice's undead was accepted into society with open arms. What sets it apart from other vampire stories is that Louis tells his own story; we do not get the reactions of someone interacting with a vampire but instead the vampire's own recollections of things in first person. Overall, Louis is a vampire the reader can't help but feel bad for because of how his second life is tainted by regret, remorse, and shame. We see the less glamorous and more heart-wrenching side of being a vampire, which is the fueling motivation for Louis wanting to be interviewed in the first place.
Dark Lover by J.R. Ward (2005)
This is the first in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but truthfully I have only read the first one so far. If Harkness and her stories are grown up, this one is really grown up. The story is sexy but doesn't revolve around sex, and the heroine isn't helpless and needy and dependent on the leading male. Dark Lover follows the same human girl/vampire guy dynamic, but her approach to the story is original and refreshing. I would say honestly that this is one of my favorite books I've ever read, vampire or otherwise. The characters aren't annoying (it's a pet peeve of mine when I hate the protagonist especially) and there's humor, tasteful sex scenes, and action and violence to keep you turning pages until you finish the book. Wrath, a mysterious blind vampire that everyone presumed to be dead, reluctantly shows up in Beth's life by the request of a father she never met and their decisions, together or individually, determine the longevity of the vampire race as a whole.
Which supernatural creature do you prefer in your books?
Resurrection of the Vampire
These are certainly not the only good vampire stories in existence but these are the ones that I've personally read and would recommend to someone else. If you're thinking that I left something out, chances are I haven't read it (slim chances are I didn't like it).
Even if you pick up just one of these stories, you'll see that not every vampire is a sparkling, contradictory, teenage annoyance whose love interest turns your stomach. Twilight may have given vampires a bad rep, but these will undoubtedly resurrect the image of the way the vampires are supposed to be.
Vampires should have an air of romance to them - they are historically seductive and irresistible for their human prey, after all - and when it's done right, it leaves you wanting more. In a way, the story itself becomes seductive and irresistible, too.
As for me, I'm Team Wrath all the way (and when/if you read the book, I promise you'll be joining that team). So tell me, which team are you on?