On a trip to the Gold Coast a few months ago, I found myself without anything to read. So we made a trip to the newsagency down the road, where they had a bunch of “beach read” kind of books. One of the books I ended up buying was Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian. I’m not sure blood and violence counts as a beach read, but I definitely had fun with it. (Apart from some brief anger at seeing Ukraine called “the Ukraine”. I live in hope that one day people will finally learn that is completely incorrect!)
Veil of Midnight was a reminder of how enjoyable vampire books were before the tweens (and their mothers) turned it into a global “thing”.
I’d read the first couple of books in Adrian’s series, and this is #5, so I was a little lost, but it was such a great escape. It also reminded me why this genre became so popular in the first place, and made me wonder why I’d been giving paranormal a bit of a wide berth in the last couple of years.
The sacrifices that come with immortality, the strengths and weaknesses, the struggles with darkness; vampires can throw up some great plot ideas.
Where did all this women’s book vampire stuff begin? With Christine Feehan? She was doing vampire-human relationships, magical mates and all the rest in the 1990s. People like to pick apart her series now, but for me it is so significant because it set the groundwork for all the books that came after. Dark Prince – the first book – may not be everyone’s favourite, but I love it for its originality, and the fact you can see so many later authors’ themes within those pages.
I also love that her creatures are “Carpathians” who live in the Carpathian Mountains – I have family from there, and will be visiting for the second time in a few months!
But vampires didn’t always mean there had to be hearts-and-flowers kind of romance.
I’m technically the same age as Buffy Summers. The year her character graduated from high school was the same year I did. She started university at the same time as me. Buffy was the anti-Twilight, and I kind of grew up with her and loved it (still do, when I catch an episode).
I never liked Twilight. Between all the sparkling and the nasty stereotyping of blonde women, I spent so much time being offended on behalf of vampires and non-brunettes that it was hard to enjoy the books. Also, there were NO sacrifices or struggles. Not only did Bella get immortality, but she also got a husband, a baby, all her friends became immortal, she could go out in sunlight, she had no weaknesses… Four phonebook-length novels for a fairytale ending with sugar on top? Without any struggle, there didn’t seem to be any point.
At the same time Twilight was taking over womankind, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse was taking off, aided by the popular television version of the books. I was mildly obsessed with both, until the show lost the plot, temporarily killing my interest in the books. One day soon I hope to pick them up again, because her vampires did vampirish things like drink blood and act naughty, and it was great fun before Hollywood got their claws into it and turned it into another “thing”.
There’re other authors whose vampires added great things to the genre too. Jeaniene Frost’s Buffy and Spike-esque Cat and Bones. J.R. Ward’s phenomenally popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
But are we still doing vampires anymore? Every time I see them discussed these days, everyone seems tired. The market was saturated with sparkling schoolboys and angsty brunettes, and people seem to be running onto the next fad.
However, before vampires became a “thing” they were fun. Maybe now that Hollywood and the drive-by readers have moved on, we will once again have a chance to enjoy the genre.