So yesterday, to the delight of fans and the eternal horror of Robert Pattinson, Stephenie Meyer announced she was doing an EL James and releasing Midnight Sun, a Twilight novel told from Edward’s perspective. Admittedly this is only fair, since James – who of course released a book from Christian Grey’s POV) – famously started the whole 50 Shades thing as Twilight fanfic. It also adds a delicious element of feud* to today’s moribund publishing world (I expect JK Rowling to seize back some attention by tweeting that Professor McGonagall subsidised her teaching by working as a dominatrix in a muggle club in Soho any day now).
Now, anyone even vaguely familiar with me will know I am not a big fan of either 50 Shades or Twilight, and for the same reasons in both cases. I’m not big on the writing itself, though obviously, I’m in the minority on this one, since millions thought otherwise, and if you’re a grown woman reading those books, I’m not gonna police your reading. But mainly because I think they both promote toxic ideas of romance and relationships that should have been consigned to history around the time we all started thinking, hmm, maybe locking your mad wife in the attic and lying about it to your new fiancée isn’t the behaviour of an upstanding guy.
So anyway, if the news has reminded you that actually vampires can be fun (where have you been? I’ve been saying this for years!) here are some places you can get your fix:
Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite:
OK, full disclosure: I haven’t read this book since it first came out, because I loved it so much at the time that I am terrified it won’t stand up. Brite (real name Billy Martin) was one of the writers responsible for shaking vampire fiction out of its turbid ‘let’s all be like Anne Rice’ phase with his visceral prose.
Already Dead (the Joe Pitt series) Charlie Huston
Gritty noir meets vampire fiction in this New York set series. Not for the faint hearted, it puts a smart contemporary spin on the myths, and hides a surprisingly big heart beneath its brittle shell.
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter – Laurell K Hamilton
Another admission: I gave up on this series a while back, as the later novels felt like plotless porn and Anita herself started to grate on me, but the earlier books are super enjoyable. There are plenty of clichés – I satirised some in my own books – but they are used in a reasonably self-aware, fun way and Hamilton’s world building makes for a gripping read. (The first book is Guilty Pleasures, if you fancy it).
The Dresden Files series, Jim Butcher
I’m cheating here, sort of, because the central focus of the books is Harry Dresden, a wizard. But I’m including these not only because they are a rip roaring read – the series just gets better as it goes – but because the depiction of vampires is hugely entertaining and original, and Thomas – who feeds off sexual energy rather than blood, oo-er – is one of my favourite characters ever. (The series starts with Storm Front, but really gets good about 3 books in).
Dark Dates… by me!
Yes, obviously, I’m going to plug my own series. Funny, sexy and smart – and packed with references to other vampire shows and books, as well as shows like Supernatural, I promise you, these are a riot. If you’re not sure you want to commit to the series, try A Vampire in New York (although it’s slightly spoilery for the first novel), which is told from the perspective of a very modern vampire just trying to make his way in the Big Apple, and finding that being dead really isn’t a help.
For sheer, enormous fun it has to be The Lost Boys, which stands up remarkably well to this day, and it still full of quotable dialogue and fantastic set pieces – and, big hair aside, those 80s fashions actually look pretty good (also, even with a dodgy haircut, young Keifer is HAWT. Also taking a more light-hearted approach is Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in The Shadows (which now has a spin off TV series), a mockumentary focused on the lives of a bunch of vampires in modern day Wellington.
Released the same year as The Lost Boys but with a far grittier approach, Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark has a stellar cast (including genre favourites Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Jenette Goldstein) and a fresh take on the myth. More recently, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is a gorgeous ode to eternity, though it actually makes a pretty good companion piece to Shadows. A filmmaker whose style heavily recalls that of Jarmusch, Ana Lily Amirpour also got into the vampire game with her 2014 film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. Tagged as ‘the first Iranian vampire Western’ , it is a beautiful slow-burn of a movie that will stay with you long after you see it.
*I mean, probably no feud at all between the actual women involved. I don’t know, I get most of my info from Tumblr.
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Newcastle-based rom-com with a dash of Northern charm: The Bridesmaid Blues
Paranormal adventure with snark and sexiness: Dark Dates: Cassandra Bick Chronicles: Volume 1
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