The earliest recorded vampire story is a Greek myth about a man who was cursed by Apollo the sun god because he was jealous of his girlfriend (this is the basis of 90% of all stories in Greek myth btw). A quick glance at this will give you an idea of just how long we humans have been vibing with vampire stories. Spoiler alert: it’s been a really, really long time.
I first fell in love with vampires after finding a copy of Poppy Z. Brite’s “Lost Souls” in a 50 cent bin sale at the library in seventh grade. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were next and then, in tenth grade, I was right at the epicenter of teenage girldom when Twilight-mania hit. Whatever your feelings on Twilight, I think it’s pretty fantastic that we live in a world where vampires can be written as both sparkly romantic vegetarians and hedonistic drug addicts. Let’s all support the diversification of mythic monsters! Whatever your personal predilections may be, here is a helpful list to help you discover the vampire book that’s right for you.
For gorgeous prose, a healthy dose of adolescent angst, and lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll…
Synopsis: At a club in Missing Mile, N.C., the children of the night gather, dressed in black, look for acceptance. Among them are Ghost, who sees what others do not; Ann, longing for love; and Jason, whose real name is Nothing, newly awakened to an ancient, deathless truth about his father, and himself.
Others are coming to Missing Mile tonight. Three beautiful, hip vagabonds—Molochai, Twig, and the seductive Zillah, whose eyes are as green as limes—are on their own lost journey, slaking their ancient thirst for blood, looking for supple young flesh.
They find it in Nothing and Ann, leading them on a mad, illicit road trip south to New Orleans. Over miles of dark highway, Ghost pursues, his powers guiding him on a journey to reach his destiny, to save Ann from her new companions, to save Nothing from himself. . .
For an engrossing story, sumptuous descriptions of different places throughout time, and for vampires who can be both beautiful and terrible…
Synopsis: Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.
(This is the first book in a series)
For a unique twist on the gritty vampire story, a strong female lead, and a full cast of diverse and interesting characters…
Synopsis: Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. And once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
For a story that has lots of dusty old libraries, older protagonists, and a prominent romance plot…
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
(This is the first book in a series)
For a look into the grandfather of modern vampires, intriguing characters, and an irresistible story…
Synopsis: Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. The novel touches on themes such as the role of women in Victorian culture, sexual conventions, immigration, colonialism, and post-colonialism. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.
Out of the 60,000+ results that pop up when you search “vampire” on Amazon, these are the stories that resonated the most with me. I think there’s a little bit of something for everybody in them.
What are your favorite vampire novels? Let me know in the comments below!