Vampires in fantasy literature

The vampire first made its appearance in print in the 18th century (Heinrich August Ossenfelder’s The Vampire, 1748) but it was in 1897, with the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that the creature from Western European mythology and folklore gained the popularity that it still holds to this very day. Throughout the 20th century the vampire appeared in books that established it as the one of the most fascinating and terrifying figures ever to be written about. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954), Salem's Lot by Stephen King (1975), Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles series (1976–2003) and Fevre Dream by George RR Martin (1982) are amongst the most popular works of vampire fiction. And the 21st century has found the vampire to be as popular as ever, with Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001–), Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (2004), the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (2005–2008), Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain (2009 - ) and Jasper Kent's Danilov Quintet (2009–) showing the fanged blood-drinker to be ever bit as well-liked today as it was when it first appeared over two hundred and fifty years ago.

Recommended Reading

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his 'Master'.

"In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre. Dracula has been attributed to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Structurally it is an epistolary novel, that is, told as a series of diary entries and letters. Literary critics have examined many themes in the novel, such as the role of women in Victorian culture, conventional and conservative sexuality, immigration, colonialism, postcolonialism and folklore. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, the novel's influence on the popularity of vampires has been singularly responsible for many theatrical and film interpretations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries." Fantasy Book Review

When Michael Crawford discovers his bride brutally murdered in their wedding bed, he is forced to flee not only to prove his innocence, but to avoid the deadly embrace of a vampire who has claimed him as her true bridegroom. Joining forces with Byron, Keats, and Shelley in a desperate journey that criss-crosses Europe, Crawford desperately seeks his freedom from this vengeful lover who haunts his dreams and will not rest until she destroys all that he cherishes. Told in the guise of a secret history, this long-awaited tale of passion and terror is finally back in print after over 20 years.

"This is an excellent novel and fully deserves the plaudits it already has, and it should enjoy new fans and a wider readership this second time around." Fantasy Book Review

It is 1888 and Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort Vlad Tepes, the Wallachian Prince infamously known as Count Dracula. Peppered with familiar characters from Victorian history and fiction, the novel tells the story of vampire Geneviève Dieudonné and Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club as they strive to solve the mystery of the Ripper murders.

"This edition not only comes with one of the best horror novels I have read but also extras such as an annotations section detailing Newman’s influences, an alternate ending, an Anno Dracula screenplay as well as articles and ideas. This is essential reading for all fans of the genre. This is essential reading for all fans of the genre. As fellow horror aficionado and writer Neil Gaiman says this is ‘compulsory reading... glorious." Fantasy Book Review

There are worse things in this world than al-Qaeda and North Korea, Zach. And they are just waiting for their chance at us. Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it's not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America's best kept secret: Nathaniel Cade. The President's vampire. And Cade is the world's only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out...

"I think that in Blood Oath Farnsworth has added a new theme within the vampire genre which I very much enjoyed. Instead of focusing on romance he instead took a popular present day theme, war on terrorism, and built a fantasy-thriller around it. I hope that Farnsworth can keep up the pace and keep the story as interesting. Blood Oath is suspenseful, thrilling and action-packed novel, an awesome book and a recommended read." Jasper de Joode, Fantasy Book Review

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world. She is. Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He's wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is. THE PASSAGE.

"The Passage is a story of truly epic proportions, a story that dares to span the entire globe over the course of one hundred years. A large scope comes with a large risk of creating something too big to handle, but Cronin keeps the core elements controlled and focused while giving his characters just enough information to be dangerous and unpredictable.The result is a deliberate yet gripping plot full of complex characters and terrifying monsters, all set in an isolated and empty post apocalyptic world." Fantasy Book Review

This new edition is definitely worth the investment, not only does it contain the ‘writers cut’ (if you will) of the original story but also so many added bonuses, annotations, notes and other projects offering the reader fascinating glimpses inside the creative mind of Newman who has to be one of the premier horror writers of today.

It wasn't that she feared death. She just despised losing. Genetically engineered warrior Sephti would go to any lengths to destroy the fae that made her their killing machine. Finally escaping servitude, she has meticulously planned revenge against her former masters, and time is running out. The last thing she needs is to be taken captive by a man who hates the fae as much as she does—and thinks she's one of them. Sephti learns her captor is Koda, an ancient Native American guardian determined to save his people from annihilation by the fae. Though he seems to loathe everything about Sephti, she can't help but notice his incredible strength and powerful sensual allure. As their distrust turns to desire, Sephti and Koda become allies. Their love will have to withstand their enemies' supernatural onslaught—and Sephti's planned suicide mission against the fae...

"This book is well written and we really feel that we get to know Septhi. I particularly liked the Native American stories and it was also good to get some recurring secondary characters to see how they had progressed from the last time we had read about them." Michelle Herbert, Fantasy Book Review

Mark is a Day Boy. In a post-traumatic future the Masters - formerly human, now practically immortal - rule a world that bends to their will and a human population upon which they feed. Invincible by night, all but helpless by day, each relies on his Day Boy to serve and protect him. Mark has been lucky in his Master: Dain has treated him well. But as he grows to manhood and his time as a Day Boy draws to a close, there are choices to be made. Will Mark undergo the Change and become, himself, a Master - or throw in his lot with his fellow humans? As the tensions in his conflicted world reach crisis point, Mark's decision may be crucial.

"Day Boy is a coming of age story set in a world of harsh truths, blood, death and survival. It is a poetic story of humanity, of monsters living in the Shadow of the Mountain, bitter cold and open to the burning of the clear night sky."

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much - not because she's not pretty - she's a very cute bubbly blonde - or not interested in a social life. She really is . . . but Sookie's got a bit of a disability. She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he's tall, he's dark and he's handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting all her life for. But Bill has a disability of his own: he's fussy about his food, he doesn't like suntans and he's never around during the day . . . Yep, Bill's a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous kind. And then one of Sookie's colleagues at the bar is killed, and it's beginning to look like Sookie might be the next victim...

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it). The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges - and soon Sookie's in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed. But that's easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly . . . The Sookie Stackhouse books are delightful Southern Gothic supernatural mysteries, starring Sookie, the telepathic cocktail waitress, and a cast of increasingly colourful characters, including vampires, werewolves and things that really do go bump in the night.

There's only one vampire Sookie Stackhouse is involved with - at least voluntarily - and that's Bill. But recently he's been a little distant - in another state distant. His sinister and sexy boss Eric has an idea where to find him, and next thing Sookie knows she's off to Jackson, Mississippi, to mingle with the underworld at Club Dead. It's a dangerous little haunt where the elusive vampire society can go to chill out and suck down some Type O - but when Sookie finally finds Bill caught in an act of serious betrayal she's not sure whether to save him, or to sharpen some stakes. The Sookie Stackhouse books are delightful Southern Gothic supernatural mysteries, starring Sookie, the telepathic cocktail waitress, and a cast of increasingly colourful characters, including vampires, werewolves and things that really do go bump in the night.

Sookie comes to the rescue of a naked, amnesiac vampire - and ends up in the middle of a war between witches, werewolves and vampires! Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's pretty. She does her job well. She keeps to herself - she has only a few close friends, because not everyone appreciates Sookie's gift: she can read minds. That's not exactly every man's idea of date bait - unless they're undead - vampires and the like can be tough to read. And that's just the kind of guy Sookie's been looking for. Maybe that's why, when she comes across a naked vampire on the way home from work, she doesn't just drive on by. He hasn't got a clue who he is, but Sookie has: Eric looks just as scary and sexy - and dead - as the day she met him. But now he has amnesia, he's sweet, vulnerable, and in need of Sookie's help - because whoever took his memory now wants his life. Sookie's investigation into what's going on leads her straight into a dangerous battle between witches, vampires and werewolves. But there could be even greater danger - to Sookie's heart, because the kinder, gentler Eric is very hard to resist. The Sookie Stackhouse books are delightful Southern Gothic supernatural mysteries, starring Sookie, the telepathic cocktail waitress, and a cast of increasingly colourful characters, including vampires, werewolves and things that really do go bump in the night.

'Ah, the taste and feel of blood when all passion and greed is sharpened in that one desire!' Lestat: a vampire - but very much not the conventional undead, for Lestat is the truly alive. Lestat is vivid, ecstatic, stagestruck, and in his extravagant story he plunges from the lasciviousness of eighteenth-century Paris to the demonic Egypt of prehistory; from fin-de-siecle New Orleans to the frenetic twentieth-century world of rock superstardom - as, pursued by the living and the dead, he searches across time for the secret of his own dark immortality.

After 6,000 years of horrifying stillness, Akash, mother of all vampires and Queen of the Damned, has risen from her sleep to let loose the powers of the night. But her monstrous plan for ruling the worlds of the living and the undead must be stopped before she destroys mankind, and it falls to the evil vampire Lestat to fight her all-encompassing evil - for it is he who challenged her power by waking her from sleep.

In Miami, 1992, a tropical garden of a city where corruption pulses beneath the lush surface is the perfect city for a vampire. Yet Lestat - hero, rock star, incorrigible seducer and the most powerful and sensual vampire of them all - prowls this savage garden in desperate misery. Restlessly pursuing the mystery of his dark existence, Lestat yearns to think, breathe and feel as a man, free of his nightmare immortality. When, stalked in his turn by the only creature able to grant his desire, Lestat rashly seizes the chance. While the Body Thief, cloaked in Lestat's immortal powers, lays a trail of carnage across America and the Caribbean, Lestat himself is abandoned to the fragility of human life, and discovers that a mortal body is no fit receptacle for a vampire's soul. Rejected by the other vampires, a tormented and appallingly vulnerable Lestat is forced to seek human help to recover his vampire self; help he abuses unforgivably when, in a mesmerizing climax, he succumbs to the basest urge in any nature.

Life with the Radleys: Radio 4, dinner parties with the Bishopthorpe neighbours and self-denial. Loads of self-denial. But all hell is about to break loose. When teenage daughter Clara gets attacked on the way home from a party, she and her brother Rowan finally discover why they can't sleep, can't eat a Thai salad without fear of asphyxiation and can't go outside unless they're smothered in Factor 50. With a visit from their lethally louche uncle Will and an increasingly suspicious police force, life in Bishopthorpe is about to change. Drastically.

"Pointed, clever and witty." Independent

"The Radleys is a refreshing and original take on a vampire genre that has arguably become rather overworked of late, and the book’s main theme of abstinence is perfect for these debt-ridden times. Using short, sharp paragraphs and sprinkled with delightful asides from the fictional Abstainer’s Handbook, The Radleys is a coming of age story that will appeal to adults, both young and old." Fantasy Book Review

For 500 years Lenah Beaudonte has been a vampire. 500 years of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers - and longs to feel the sun on her skin, grass under her bare feet, and share the breath of a human kiss. She wants to be mortal again. But is she really capable of being human, after her long years of darkness? Waking up as a sixteen-year-old girl brings Lenah many things - the life she has missed, taste, touch, love. But a vampire soul is not easily shed. And her coven - the four vampires she led in decadence and thrilling destruction - want their queen back...

"Clever… clever… uniquely clever… this book is such a surprise. Imagine being a vampire and wishing to be human. Imagine living on this earth for hundreds of years as a murdering killing machine. Imagine someone…another vampire… loving you so much that he will do anything for you even if that means making you human and dying himself. Thus, we have Rhode… I love these vampire names… and Lenah." Patty, Fantasy Book Review

In the bitter cold of an unrelenting winter Tomas and his son, Peter, arrive in Chust and despite the inhospitability of the villagers settle there as woodcutters. Tomas digs a channel of fast-flowing waters around their hut so they have their own little island kingdom. Peter doesn't understand why his father has done this, nor why his father carries a long battered box everywhere they go, and why he is forbidden to know its contents. But when a band of gypsies comes to the village Peter's drab existence is turned upside down. He is infatuated by the beautiful gypsy princess, Sofia, intoxicated by their love of life and drawn into their deadly quest. For these travellers are Vampire Slayers and Chust is a dying community - where the dead come back to wreak revenge on the living. Amidst the terrifying events that follow, Peter is stunned to see his father change from a disillusioned man to the warrior hero he once was. Marcus draws on his extensive research of the vampire legend and sets his story in the forbidding and remote landscapes of the 17th century. Written in his usual distinctive voice, this is also the story of a father and his son, of loss, redemption and resolution.

Bram Stoker's immortal Dracula told us about Count Dracula as an undead vampire. But how did this come to be? Who was Dracula in real life? There has always been speculation, but The Dracula Papers now offers the ultimate answer. It takes us back to the year 1576, to the wild land of Transylvania and to the early life of Prince Vladimir who came to be the horror known as Dracula.

"So, I've read Sookie Stackhouse, and I've read the Twilight Saga, I watched Buffy, Being Human, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. While I honestly admit to enjoying them, (except the Twilight movies, seriously people), it seems that the market is becoming oversaturated with angst-ridden, over-sexed vampires, and there’s only so much crazy eyed Vampness a girl can take (yes, Damon Salvatore, I mean you). So, let’s get back to where it all started - old school Gothic tales set during the early years of everyone’s favourite Vampire, Count Dracula. This is a chunky book, 470 pages to be precise, and I was a little daunted at first, but, from the moment I started reading I literally could not put the book down." Helen Greenwood, Fantasy Book Review

Latest reviews

Recommended reads by sub-genre

Select a sub-genre below to see which books we highly recommend.

High / Epic fantasy books
High / Epic fantasy

Secondary world with epic characters, themes, and plot
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery fantasy books
Heroic / Sword and Sorcery

Fantasy with heroic adventures
Contemporary / Urban fantasy books
Urban fantasy

Fantasy narrative with an urban setting
Historical fiction / Alternate history books
Historical fantasy / fiction

Historical fiction with fantasy elements
Grimdark fantasy fiction
Grimdark

Bleak subject matter and a dystopian setting
Parallel worlds.
Parallel universe

Fantasy set in parallel worlds
Science fantasy / Speculative fiction books
Science / Speculative

Draws elements from both science fiction and fantasy
Children's fantasy books
Children's Fantasy

Fantasy for ages up to 12
Young adult fantasy books
Young Adult

Fantasy for ages 12+
Adult fantasy books
Adult Fantasy

Fantasy for ages 18+
Dystopian fiction
Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic

Fiction set in dark, nightmarish worlds
Image derived from Mark Lawrence's Emperor of Thorns book cover
Monarchy / Empire

Fantasy books with empires at their core
Gothic fiction books
Gothic Fiction

Fiction with elements of fear, horror, death, gloom and romance
Vampire fiction
Vampire Fiction

Fiction with vampiric characters
Werewolf fiction
Werewolf Fiction

Fiction with werewolf characters
Steampunk books
Steampunk

Fiction with steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology
Dragon fiction
Dragon Fiction

Fiction with the legendary, scaled, fire-breathing creatures
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Wizards / Magicians

Fantasy with wizards, witches, magicians, sorceresses...
Lore, Legend and Mythology
Lore, Legend and Mythology

Inspired by ancient folklore and mythology
Fantasy books featuring dragons
Military Fantasy

Fantasy books focusing on mailtary life
Praetorian cover image
Roman historical fiction

Explore the ancient Roman Empire
An image of Darth Bane, taken from the cover of a Star Wars book
Star Wars

Books exploring the galaxy of the ever-popular franchise
An image taken from the front cover of The Wind in the Willows
Animal fantasy books

Fantasy with sentient animals
An image taken from the front cover of Giant Thief.
The Thief / Assassin

Fantasy books starring the thief or the assassin
An image taken from the front of hush, hush.
Supernatural

Fiction exploring beyond the laws of nature
An image portraying manga art.
Manga

Japanese comic books and graphic novels
House of Small Shadows
Horror

Liked to be scared? These books will do that...
An image portraying comic fantasy.
Comic Fantasy

For the reader who loves to laugh
An image of J. R. R. Tolkien
Inspired by Tolkien

Love Lord of the Rings? Now try these...
The Time Traveller's Almanac
Anthologies

The best science fiction and fantasy anthlogies