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For the Halloween theme, I’ve decided to highlight books or series that feature vampires. But since SO many of them do, I’ve decided to highlight those which have stood out in my mind as having particularly scary or creepy vampires, or those for which I think the author was particularly creative in creating the vampire’s origins/characteristics.
**Please note that almost all of these are ADULT books, not YA.**
I just realized I haven’t really read many YA books with vampires!
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I don’t think any vampire-book list could possibly exist without including the original that started it all! Any of us vampire lovers need to thank Bram Stoker for bringing us the Dracula myth, and for anyone who is a fan of vampire movies or books, I highly recommend reading the original story. Unlike a lot of classic literature, this one is actually pretty easy to read and comprehend. Its not as dense or complicated as something like Moby Dick, or even Pride and Prejudice. I reread Dracula a year or two ago and enjoyed it, but found it so funny because modern authors have changed the characteristics of vampires QUITE a lot over the years!
The Others series by Anne Bishop
I read Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series when I was much, MUCH younger and recently stumbled upon her new series called The Others. This is a really excellent Urban Fantasy, but just be warned its more heavy on world and character building than it is on action. But it includes some of the most creative (and genuinely terrifying) vampire and werewolf creatures I’ve seen in recent literature. While many modern authors make these creatures friendly and very human in how they act, Bishop makes them more realistically non-human. They are fascinating to read about, and her “vampire” creatures are unlike any others I’ve come across in books or film. Very unique story.
**Includes adult themes, violence, abuse, & other dark themes**
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
I adore, adore, ADORE Patricia Briggs and all of her books, especially her Urban Fantasy series, which are Mercy Thompson, and Alpha and Omega. She too has excellent world building and character development, while still including plenty of action and suspense. Her books include vampires, werewolves, and fae (as well as other things) and each one has really great and original characteristics. She builds them so they each have their own very complex sets of rules and ways of life. The vampires in the Mercy Thompson series are actually scary and dangerous. No sparkly vampires here.
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series is another one of my favorites, and again is in the Urban Fantasy genre. His books also include a range of paranormal creatures, and vampires are one of the main character’s major enemies/nemesis. These vampires are, again, described and characterized in a way that makes them extremely nonhuman, grotesque, and very, very scary. I would not want to run into these vampires on the street. If you like your vampires evil and terrifying, you might give this series a try.
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
I read this book for the first time when I was a very young adult, honestly I was probably too young for it, as its a very adult book. The vampires in this standalone novel are terrifying, and the entire story is very dark. Actually darkness is a major theme of the story, which is part of the reason it’s title is Sunshine. Because you can’t truly appreciate how scary the dark is until you’ve experienced the sun first, right? This is an excellent, very unique, very reflective type of book. I would not consider it to be a “light” or “easy” read, though.
The Moonbound Clan series by Larissa Ione
This is a newer series from Larissa Ione, and theres only two books out in it so far, but I really enjoyed it and wanted to include it here because I think its flying under the radar a bit, and hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. This one is on here not because the vampires are especially terrifying, but because I think the world building and plot is particularly unique for its genre. This takes place in a world where vampires are known to exist in the world, and they are actually slaves to rich humans. I think the books bring up a lot of interesting discussion points about civil rights, human decency, slavery, and more. I thought it provided some really interesting reflection after reading it. I would classify this as Romantic Urban Fantasy.
The Elemental Mysteries series by Elizabeth Hunter
I stumbled upon Elizabeth Hunter’s vampire series last year and they’ve stuck out in my mind as being very well written, and very different from a lot of the other “vampire books” out there today. The world is a little bit darker, and the vampire’s are almost more of “elemental beings” because each one belongs to the earth, air, water, or fire groups and their individual “powers” reflect the group they belong too. Each group has different characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and is almost its own “political unit,” leading to some excellent world-building. These are more slow-build Romantic Urban Fantasy books. The original series is 4 books following one couple, and each book after that is a companion standalone novel following a new set of characters. The main character of the first book is a librarian, which is actually the reason I decided to give this series a chance!
The Blackdagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward
Ok J.R. Ward is pretty much a powerhouse in the “vampire romance” genre so I won’t go into too much detail about her series here. You can find a ton of info with a quick google search. But if you haven’t heard of it before its a very dark and sexy world, and each book is a romance featuring a new set of main characters, but with many other characters stories’ woven throughout. You generally get a lot of different perspectives in these books. The thing I like about these books is that the vampires have a really complex society and culture which is different from humans. I love reading about those differences. There is a LOT of sexism and gender discrimination in their world (not necessarily by the main male characters, but by the society leaders and such) which may rub some people the wrong way. But I enjoy seeing the female vampires struggle to overcome these assumed limitations. This is a very intense, but really good series, in my opinion.
Wings in the Night series by Maggie Shayne
This post is starting to get long-winded so I’m going to keep this short. This series is quite old, and I think it may be one of the first of its kind (vampire romance series). I read them several years ago and don’t remember a lot of the specifics but I liked them enough to read every single one (there are a LOT) so a re-read may be in order. These are romances that follow a different couple in each book.
Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
Oh lets end it with Twilight, shall we? Regardless how I feel about these books (I like reading them but think they teach young girls some terrible things about healthy relationships and behavior) the one thing I have to say is that the vampires are unique. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and in a lot of ways I really enjoyed the mythologies the author created. The sparkling part is silly, but the rest is pretty cool and unique. The werewolves mythologies I loved, I thought it was really clever to have it be steeped in native american magic, and I thought it was cool that the werewolf magic is only “Activated” when vampires are near. So for creativity, I have to say bravo. For healthy relationship development, I’d have to give it an “F.” lol
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read and enjoyed (or not enjoyed) any of these vampire-ific books! Or if any have interested you after reading about them here!