Now that it’s October, arguably the best month of the year, the “Book Club” is going to take a darker turn and focus more on titles that are within the horror genre. This may vary from ghost stories, new horrific releases, cult classics, creature features or novels by Stephen King, aka the King of Horror. To celebrate the release of the new show “Interview with the Vampire,” I want to use this first October edition to focus on novels featuring one of pop culture’s favorite supernatural creatures: the vampire.
The vampire has been a common trope to have in literature for ages, a prime example being Bram Stoker’s ever popular “Dracula.” However, this concept was used long before Stoker got his hands on it. One of the most popular vampire novels predating the release of “Dracula” is Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla.” The story follows Laura, a rather solitary woman, as she meets and develops an intense friendship with the enchanting Carmilla. However, over time, Carmilla’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and strange as Laura becomes plagued by nightmares and starts to fall ill. The novel is rather short with a seemingly predictable plot and is described as an intense gothic romance seeped in sexual tension. Though the book is still sitting patiently on my bedstand waiting to be picked up, I’m rather excited to read this seemingly sapphic vampire romance that inspired Stoker so long ago.
Though Stoker and Le Fanu may have written some of the original classic vampire novels, Stephen King and Ann Rice are known for having written some of the most popular modern vampire stories so far – sorry Stephanie Meyer. In Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot,” which has been adapted to fit the television screen a few times, we watch a small town in Maine slowly succumb to the charms of the town’s new arrival as a group attempts to destroy the evil lurking beneath the surface of this alluring stranger – all in all, a classic “Stoker-esque” vampire hunt. On the other hand, Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire,” which has just been re-adapted for AMC, focuses on Louis and his life both before and after he gets turned into a vampire. Rice bends the genre a little bit by allowing readers to get the perspective of this supposed monster and allowing him to be, for the lack of a better term, “humanized.”
While these novels are all classics of the genre, many authors are still bending the vampire trope to this day, allowing new perspectives and concepts to still be applied to the overall idea of the vampire. For example, there is Alexis Henderson’s new novel “House of Hunger,” which came out earlier this month. The story centers around the idea of bloodmaids, which are servants designed for nobles to drink from. Marion is a new bloodmaid in the notorious House of Hunger, desperate to please her new mistress with her services. However, tensions rise as the other bloodmaids start disappearing, causing her to wonder what is truly going on within the house. I’m rather excited for this one as it obviously has the same sapphic vampire concept “Carmilla” had, though I’m also curious to see how Henderson will further add her own voice to the genre.
Similarly, another new vampiric release on my radar is S.T. Gibson’s “A Dowry of Blood,” which also came out this month. The novel nods its head to Stoker’s “Dracula” and focuses on his first wife, Constanta, as she comes to terms with who, or what, she has truly married. While she loves him and owes her life to him, she knows that Dracula is capable of terrible things and has more than one skeleton in his closet – probably literally if you look hard enough. While Dracula and his brides aren’t new characters, I think it’s interesting to see where Gibson is going with this new perspective, and I’m excited to pick it up soon.
Whether you want a classic Dracula-style tale, a modern take or a gothic romance, the vampire genre ultimately has a wide array of novels for you to sink your teeth into this month.