Tales From The To-Read Tower: Special Vampire Edition
So, like any good bookworm, I have a to-real pile. Although when I look at it properly – and especially if I were to add in the ebook library – it would be more like a tower. There are a lot of memes out there dedicated to showing off unread books, but if I were to give one book a week some focus it would take forever.
And I suspect I am not the only one in this position. I’m also very much a vampire bookworm: not only do I have a vampire podcast, it’s my dream to travel through Eastern Europe (where part of my family comes from) and visit various locations important to vampire folklore and fiction.
So in this very special edition of Tales From The To-Read Tower, four vampire books: one adult, one YA, one non-fiction, and one comic!
Adult – Blood Games by Chelsea Quinn Yabro
Rome 62-70 CE (Nero). Blood Games is a tale of love and horror set during the last chaotic days of Nero’s Rome – a time marked by excesses of high living, cruel violence, and intricate political intrigue. One of the city’s few successful foreign businessmen, Sanct’ Germain Ragoozy hs so far avoided the treacherous maze of Roman society. But his first mistake will be to fall in love with Olivia, the brutalised wife of a powerful senator. His second will be to help Rogerian, a craftsman mortally wounded by a greedy employer. Here, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro introduces the two people that will follow Saint Germain throughout the centuries: Rogerian and Olivia. For them, he will give them is most precious gift and his worse curse: immortality. Now as punishment for his interference, Ragoczy must face the Circus Maximum – as entertainment.
We did an episode on the first book in the Saint-Germain cycle (“Now With Actual Satanism”) and while Hotel Transylvania was not the most exciting vampire book I’ve read there was enough there to make me want to read more. Since the books take place in multiple eras, I think that one I am more familiar with/interested in will make a huge difference.
Young Adult – Throat by R.A. Nelson
Seventeen-year-old Emma feels cursed by her epilepsy—until the lost night. She’s shocked to wake up in the hospital one morning, weak from blood loss. When her memories begin to return, she pieces together that it was a man—a monster—who attacked her: a vampire named Wirtz. And it was her very condition that saved her: a grand mal seizure interrupted Wirtz and left Emma with all the amazing powers of a vampire—heightened senses, rapid speed—but no need to drink blood. Is Emma now a half-vampire girl? One thing soon becomes clear: the vampire Wirtz is fierce and merciless, feared even by his own kind, and won’t leave a job undone.
YA fiction where protagonists have medical conditions such as epilepsy are rare, and especially in the genre side of YA so that’s one tick off the diversity bingo chart. And what this blurb doesn’t tell you is that the setting is a NASA base and there’s lots of science stuff. Does that mean vampires are science-based in Throat in the vein
(ha) of Underworld? Or will the solution to the problem be found in science instead of the traditional religion?
Non-Fiction – Who Was Dracula? Bram Stoker’s Trail of Blood by Jim Steinmeyer
An acclaimed historian sleuths out literature’s most famous vampire, uncovering the source material – from folklore and history, to personas including Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman – behind Bram Stoker’s bloody creation.
In more than a century of vampires in pop culture, only one lord of the night truly stands out: Dracula. Though the name may conjure up images of Bela Lugosi lurking about in a cape and white pancake makeup in the iconic 1931 film, the character of Dracula—a powerful, evil Transylvanian aristocrat who slaughters repressed Victorians on a trip to London—was created in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel of the same name, a work so popular it has spawned limitless reinventions in books and film.
But where did literature’s undead icon come from? What sources inspired Stoker to craft a monster who would continue to haunt our dreams (and desires) for generations? Historian Jim Steinmeyer, who revealed the men behind the myths in The Last Greatest Magician in the World, explores a question that has long fascinated literary scholars and the reading public alike: Was there a real-life inspiration for Stoker’s Count Dracula?
Hunting through archives and letters, literary and theatrical history, and the relationships and events that gave shape to Stoker’s life, Steinmeyer reveals the people and stories behind the Transylvanian legend. In so doing, he shows how Stoker drew on material from the careers of literary contemporaries Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde; reviled personas such as Jack the Ripper and the infamous fifteenth-century prince Vlad Tepes, as well as little-known but significant figures, including Stoker’s onetime boss, British stage star Henry Irving, and Theodore Roosevelt’s uncle, Robert Roosevelt (thought to be a model for Van Helsing).
Along the way, Steinmeyer depicts Stoker’s life in Dublin and London, his development as a writer, involvement with London’s vibrant theater scene, and creation of one of horror’s greatest masterpieces. Combining historical detective work with literary research, Steinmeyer’s eagle eye provides an enthralling tour through Victorian culture and the extraordinary literary monster it produced.
All part of the “following folklore and fiction” dream of mine. Gotta do my research first, right?
Comic – Day Men (Vol 2) by Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson, & Brian Stelfreeze
The war between the Virgo and Ramses families has been called into a temporary ceasefire by Gustavo, a representative of the Old Families sent to mediate the conflict. But with Azalea facing a guilty verdict and certain death at the hands of a standard war tribunal, Day Man David Reid takes matters into his own hands by proposing Justice by Day, an ancient tradition pitting Day Men against each other in their families’ names.
I read and quite enjoyed the first volume of Day Men, with its focus on the humans who work for vampires who in turn are like ancient, blood-sucking crime families. They’re old, they’re horrific, they’re beautiful… they are vampires.
I’ve got no vampire audiobooks to listen to so that section is free this time around. So instead I’ll recommend the Audible Edition of Dracula, featuring Alan Cumming as Seward and Tim Curry as van Helsing. It’s an excellent cast and recording and I highly recommend it.
Have you read any of these books? And do you have any to recommend? I am always on the lookout for good vampire books to read.