I started reading vampire books as a teen and was instantly intrigued by these mysterious creatures. I like each book for different reasons and love losing myself in a different vampire world with every book I open. This is a list of some of my favorites over the years — and one I’m looking forward to reading!
Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
Considered by many to be the first modern vampire, it centers on Count Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England. Jonathan Harker, Dracula’s solicitor, winds up being his prisoner. Harker manages to escape, and he and his friends race to stop Dracula, as they learn what he is and what he is capable of. The atmosphere is creepy and gothic, and the vampire rules we’re all familiar with were established in this book.
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (1976 – present)
The Vampire Chronicles are wordy, gothic, sensual, and, at times, they’re overly descriptive, but I love books where I can get to know characters. The Vampire Chronicles follow Lestat de Lioncourt as he navigates the world, vampire origins — both as a species and as individuals — and family drama. Most of the vampires are opulent, and they struggle with morality. If you don’t have time to read all 11 novels (with a new one coming out in November), definitely read Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned. I love seeing the dynamic between Lestat and Louis evolve throughout the series.
I like the movie adaptation of Interview with the Vampire but have never seen Queen of the Damned — in fact, none of my friends will let me watch it — so please don’t judge that book based on the movie.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975)
To be honest, I read this when I was too young, and it terrified me, so I’m a little fuzzy on the details. A man moves back to the town he spent part of his childhood in and discovers everyone around him is turning into vampires.
The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith (1991-1992)
This is probably one of the first vampire series I read (and reread constantly) as a teen. I’ll be honest that I reread the series years later, when it was announced it was the basis for a TV show, and it didn’t hold up as well as some of the other vampire books/series that I’ve read, so I included this mainly for nostalgia purposes. The series centers on a teenage girl, and she’s torn between two vampire brothers. It’s fluffy teenage angst and makes for a light weekend read.
Diaries of the Family Dracul by Jeanne Kalogridis (1995-1997)
Set 50 years before Dracula, a man returns to his family’s estate in Transylvania, along with his pregnant wife, following the death of his father. He gets caught up managing his great-uncle Vlad’s business and personal affairs and is horrified as he starts to realize everything his uncle requires of him. The first time I read this, it shocked me. The second time around, I was less shocked, but this is still a well written, enjoyable read.
Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
Based on Dracula and told from Mina’s POV, Dracula in Love fleshes out Dracula’s obsession with Mina. This isn’t a pure companion novel, and sometimes Mina frustrates me, but it’s an enjoyable what-if. It was interesting to look at a story I know well from a different perspective.
Undead Series by MaryJanice Davidson (2004 – present)
The best word to describe this series is ludicrous. Betsy Johnson dies on her 30th birthday and wakes up in a funeral home. Things aren’t quite adding up for her, and she figures out that she’s not only a vampire but the Queen of the Vampires. Forget everything you think you know about vampires and enjoy the absurdity of this series.
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series by Laurell K. Hamilton (1993 – present)
Urban fantasy at its finest, Anita Blake lives in a world where everyone knows vampires exist and they have legal rights. When she’s not raising zombies, she’s a vampire hunter and consults with the police about supernatural crimes. Although I love this series, I have so many mixed feelings about it. I adore the earlier books, then the series goes off course for a while before coming back. One of the things I love about this series is that it’s a complete world, and I’m emotionally attached to many of the side characters. Check out the first book, Guilty Pleasures, in which Anita investigates a string of vampire murders at the request of the city’s master vampire, and, if you like it, keep reading!
Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories by Michael Sims (2007)
This is a great collection of short stories, and each features historical information about the author and time period. There’s a lot of lore and nothing pretty or redeemable about the vampires in these stories. Out of all the stories, my favorite is “The Family of the Vourdalak” by Alexei Tolstoy. This story features a traveling diplomat who is staying with a family minus the patriarch. The father is out searching for a bandit and instructs his family to kill him if he returns after 10 days because, after 10 days, he’s convinced he’ll be a vourdalak (vampire).
Fledgling by Octavia Butler (2007)
Several friends have recommended this to me, and it’s been on my to-read list for at least two years. An amnesiac woman wakes up in a field and discovers she’s a 53-year old vampire. In addition to trying to remember her past, she has to figure out who is after her.
This is kind of a random mix of classics, fun reads and gothic horror, but I enjoy each for different reasons. What are your vampire favorites?