I admit the trend was fun — for about a week sometime in 2008 — and it did us all a favour by popularizing the supernatural genre (of which many fine examples that do not include vampires can be found), but I’m over vampires.
The best vampire book I ever read was “Dracula”* by Bram Stoker and sometimes I wish it was the only one I ever read.
Unfortunately, it was not.
One summer in college when all my friends out of town and I was working a very stressful job, I devoured the entire Twilight series. I immediately regretted it. Team Dracula.
But that was not the end of it either! No, I’ve also read the Vampire Academy series. I love them, they’re ridiculous. Every part of them is ridiculous: from the names (Dhampirs? Strigoi?) to the romances, from the inter-vampire community power struggles to the random appearance of another group on the down-low with the supernatural goings-on (Alchemists this time, not werewolves). So many things to love.
Not the least of which is that they can perk you up from any bad mood and are over in under five hours. Stressful day at work? Recent breakup? Vomiting your guts? A Vampire Academy novel will make you forget all that. And best of all, the writing does get progressively better as the series goes on. I was actually impressed when the writer pulled off a decent plot in book three. I felt like clapping (I didn’t because it was 2 a.m. and I didn’t want to wake my roommate).
You would have thought I learned my lesson, but no, I pressed on further. I read the first novel of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series on the ferry to Skagway. It was the winter and I had to get up really early for the ferry (Early for me, it was like eight in the morning). Dawn broke as we pulled out of Auke Bay and by the time we arrived in Skagway, it was dark again. Normally such a travel arrangement would make for a terrible day, but not with “Soulless.” This book is everything you didn’t know you were missing in neo-Victorian historical novels. I’m not talking about the vampires or the werewolves, I’m talking about the sarcasm.
I’m talking about paragraphs like the following: “For his part, the vampire seemed to feel that their encounter had improved his ball experience immeasurably. For there she sat, without escort, in a low-necked ball gown.” And conversations like this: “The Earl of Woolsey glared at her. ‘Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man.’ ‘Mmm, that’s what you say.’”
I can’t give you an honest opinion on where the “Soulless” stands as a work of literature — I was too busy laughing. So much so that the other people on the ferry probably thought I was crazy.
So my advice to you, is just say “no” to vampire novels except when you saying “yes” to them.
* Seriously people, “Dracula” is amazing. Only vampire novel you ever need to read. Written as an epistolary, or novel-by-letters, a style not popular nowadays and sometimes difficult for modern readers to get the hang off. I had no problem reading “Dracula.” This novel does suspense the way it’s supposed to be done — everyone else is just bad imitators.