Best Vampire Books

A list of the best of the best of vampire fiction, completely updated for 2017
The Best Vampire Fiction

We've completely updated this Vampire list for 2017, adding more books, updating the descriptions, and generally providing a deeper and more broad curation of the best the Vampire genre has to offer. 

In recent years, Vampire fiction has become a common sight in bookstores around the world. However, vampire novels have been around long before ‘The Twilight Saga’ and are an important sub-genre of fantasy and horror, especially for readers looking to find a more dark and dangerous tale. 

But long before the Twilight books, Vampire's were getting serious treatment from talented authors. 

These days, Paranormal Romance style vampire fiction (angsty bad boy vampires with human relationship drama) is the fill-in poster boy for vampire fiction, but there is seriously good vampire fiction that's MORE than just a bunch of angsty teens looking for their next shag-out there if you know where to look.

And this is that list -- we give you the best vampire fiction and fantasy books that take vampires seriously.

This list will give you something to suck the life out of, showcasing both lesser-known and highly publicized vampire fantasy novels that are serious as they are thoughtful explorations of the 'Vampire' tale.

Vampires have experienced a huge renaissance in the past couple of years (with the release of the Twilight Books by Stephanie Meyers). However, those who have been weaned on vampire books such as 'Twilight' are sorely missing out on the really good vampire fiction out there.

That’s not to say that Twilight books are “bad” (they are meeting a market need for certain people) but they are certainly not complex books by any means and they certainly don't do anything "new" in the genre. Such books are for kiddies and the supermarket crowd -- fine for the average person, but not for the discriminating reader.

If you are tired of reading all the crappy, derivative vampire books on the market or you simply want to branch out of your Twilight phase and experience OTHER vampire novels that are delectable, then read this list of the best vampire books in the genre, period.

If you are looking for a different type of Vampire book (teeny vampire romance, adult vampire books, paranormal romance, etc), then make sure you also check out our other Vampire book lists that might cater more to what you are looking for.


Best Vampire Romance Books

Best Vampire Books for YA Readers

Best Vampire Books for Adults

Vampire Book Subgenre Page

Best Vampire Romance Fantasy

Best Paranormal Romance 

He writes stories where castration, rape, skull-crushing, and child sacrifice are parred for the course. So it should come as no surprise that George R.R. Martin conquered the sub-genre of horror fantasy before he wrote A Song of Ice and Fire. It's much (MUCH) more subtle than the series he's most famous for “something you'll need to keep in mind if you plan to read Fevre Dream. And you should. Why it made the list thanks to Twinkle Toes Twilight and the many vomit-inducing teenage wet dreams it spawned, vampires have lost much of their mythos. Long before that, Martin published a tightly written tale that combines elements of horror with urban fantasy in a thrilling urban fantasy. If you're experiencing the same kind of vampire fatigue as the rest of the intelligent world, you might be tempted to avoid this book. But that fatigue is exactly why you should read it. Because it will erase the memories of Stephanie Meyer's brand of sparkly literary poison. As with all things Martin, you won't find this a comfortable journey. The story is complex and "as always“ the writing is beautiful. You can say two things about Martin: First, that he's a twisted sunnuvabitch, and second, that he has a way with words that few people do. The action doesn't move quickly in Fevre Dream, but that only serves to heighten the suspense. You will experience real frights, but nothing gory enough to limit it to a horror story.

Similar Recommendations

If you like horror fantasy

you should read Terror by Simmons (also on this list). Delicious and spine-tingling scary. Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale is also another great "scary" standalone "horror tale."

And of course, I should recommend other vampire fiction. There's a million vampire books out there, but there are a handful that stand out above the rest. Here's my recommendations for other vampire fiction worth reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker -- the book that launched a thousand imitations -- is a must read. Salem's Lot by Steven King ties together the classic King-style horror (small town where residents are disconnected from each other where pockets of evil can fester and hide, a few good people who band together to fight evil,etc). I Am Legend by Richard Matheson which is sort of survivor meets Dracula. And Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons -- a good book by a damn good author. For a Vampire book that does something new with the genre, read Peeps by Scott Westerfield.

This is the story that influenced the zombie genre and popularized the concept of a worldwide zombie apocalypse. Robert Neville is the last human on the earth. He is immune to a virus that either killed people or turned them into blood sucking creatures. The main character has witnessed a human extinction event and struggles to deal with life afterward. The real story of this book is how he deals with the reality of losing his family, the loneliness of being the last man on a desolate planet. Is life alone a life worth living? Why it's on the list I am Legend is possibly the best short horror story ever written, and its impact on all horror books written since has been profound. Richard Matheson conceived a wholly new kind of vampire fiction. Surpassing the traditional vampiric narrative, he adds elements of science fiction and modern day culture that yields a refreshingly original version of the Bram Stoker legend. Many of today's masters of horror, Stephen King included, rank this book amongst their personal top ten lists of favorites. Read if you like Vampires. Zombies.
Coming in at a close third, well-known thriller and fantasy author, Stephen King, shocked readers with another enthralling fantasy novel, inspired by Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. In his 1975 novel, Salem’s Lot, King takes an entirely different approach to the vampire sub-genre. After contemplating how a vampire would cope in a modern America, King decided to craft a clever story based on this idea. Bordering on a vampire-zombie apocalypse setting, King’s novels takes the vampire fantasy sub-genre to a new level of terror. King is one of the most unrecognized writers on the planet. Oh, I know he’s made millions from both his books and movie deals, but the literary world has continually given him the snub.King single handedly reboots the entire vampire myth to a modern-day setting with his book. Without a doubt, Salem's Lot is one of King’s best books (and that’s saying a lot since King has quite a fair share of them) and arguably a vampiric masterpiece.  Like with any classic “King” novel, there is a small community of people who are on many levels disconnected from each other. It is this very disconnection that shelters a lurking evil.With loving detail, King builds up the community. You get the day to day sense of the community – both the goodness present and the inherent flaws. But it's a town with dangerous secrets, with hidden closets and locked doors, a town where evil things can lurk beneath the light of the ordinary. It's a place where the ordinary can become extraordinary. A place where the uncanny can happen.With Salem’s Lot, King builds a house of dominos and in one unrelenting chapter, tears it all down. So sit down and enjoy the feast. It’s going to get bloody. This is one freaky novel folks, doused with all the King goodness you could ask for. Read it and be scaredDespite this novel only being King’s second book, the engaging pace of the plot will leave you waiting with bated breath to find out what happens next. King has been commended for his uncanny ability to respect the traditional vampire mythology while incorporating a completely unique twist in the story. King’s ability to create a realistic and modern (at least at that time) horror novel was praised for its realism with many reviewers commenting that the story could be set in any small, American town. Replete with intense action scenes, readers were left stunned by King’s artful descriptions of violence in an atmosphere dripping with menace and mystery. Characterized as being one of the most terrifying vampire novels of all time, expect to be left wide awake after this blood curdling read.
Dracula will always reign as the true master vampire, the one creature in horror and fantasy who can simultaneously seduce and terrify. And don't let yourself think this is an archaic story just because the novel was published in 1897. It still hits home even now in a way no other author has yet to match. Dracula still remains the greatest vampire novel of all time. Why it's on the list Dracula belongs a little on the edge of fantasy, having more of dark romance, horror fantasy as its themes. However, it's undeniable that this book had a huge impact on pop culture and literature. Bram Stoker managed to create a literary giant that is possibly the most pervasive of all characters in the history of fiction. While it cannot be overly analyzed (the story reflects 19th-century views on love, horror, and suspense), it is still a book that every fantasy lover should have on their shelf. Remember that even though this was not the first vampire story, every one of our modern vampire authors derives the basis of their characters from this single iconic figure. Read if you like Vampires, horror and dark romance. Before deciding that Vampires sparkle and are basically good – read Dracula.

From the moment you jump into Vampire$  to the moment you finish, it’s vicious action without apology. Steakley makes the vampire myth completely believable within the realms of his novel. No nonsense about turning into bats or any of that. No lovey dovey human and vampire harlequin nonsense with a handful of vampires with bad hair really being "decent guys" despite the fact they drink blood for sport. No, in this book vampires are just purely evil, purely vicious, murdering bastards. This book is as close to action perfection that you're going to find. It's vulgar, edgy, and as good as it gets when it comes to reading about vampire killing. It's also got some of the best male camaraderie and bonding you'll read in a book (the non-gay kind). The book follows a group of professional vampire killers. They love to drink, swear, and carouse, and they have the full backing of the Catholic church to kill some vampire ass. There was a movie made by John Carpenter based on this book. Forget it ever existed! Vampire$ is a thousand times better than that wreck of a movie. So if you want a kick ass vampire novel that doesn't scrimp out on vulgarity and raw action, Steakley's Vampire$ is the best you're going to find.

I’ve heard it said that it’s impossible for Dan Simmons to write a bad novel; I agree. A man with many talents (his Hyperion is considered one of Science Fictions most beloved novels), Simmons turns his unique skills to the Dracula tale. This books is great because not only does Simmons tell a fantastic thriller tale, he also flips the Vampire mythos upside down. The novel has one of the most convincing scientific explanations for vampires that I’ve yet read about.

Books in Summer Of Night Series (2)

This novel’s a fun one. Combine Nazis and Vampires in this piece of horror fiction. Captain Klause Woerman is told to hold a small abandoned keep in the heart of the Transylvanian Alps. When his men start disappearing, all hell breaks loose. For readers looking for Vampire fiction with a horror sting to it, The Keep is up there with the best. It’s a riveting page turner that takes some of the classic vampire lore that we are all used to and adds a whole new twist to it. Just don’t read it at night when you are alone. Especially if there’s a forest nearby.
If you've read Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and company take note, this is the novel you ’ve been looking for. It is in fact one of the best vampire stories out there, if you like some of those books. The Last Vampire is, as the title suggests, the story of the last vampire. The star of the show is Sita, a 5000 year old vampire who’s falling in love with a human who resembles her old (vampire) lover. This is her struggle to find peace. The Last Vampire is a series, but it’s one of the more intelligent and interesting vampire series on the market. I hands down prefer this to the new vampire books flooding the market.
There was Dracula. And then there was Brad Pitt… err… Louis – the main character in what is one of the founding books of the genre. Before you read this book, you need to keep in mind that it was published in 1976. At the time, it was ground breaking, but if you're a well-read fan of the paranormal romance genre, you'll find that it hasn't aged well. The language is old-timey-wimey and the vampires are infinitely creepier than the ones you'll find in the other series on this list. It's kind of like reading the Iliad. You should read it because it's a classic, but it's not a painless experience.This is also the first book where vampires – despite being evil – have motivations that can be understood. There are more books in the series and whether you find them an improvement on the first or not will depend on whether you enjoy Rice's writing style or not.What you will find fascinating is how deeply Rice delves into vampire psychology – she takes great pains to create backstories that explain their actions, however evil they may be.

Books in The Vampire Chronicles Series (13)

For a powerful vampire novel that tackles some of life’s important issues. Fledgling is not your standard vampire novel. So if you are expecting Twilight 7, don’t waste your time. Rather, it’s an intelligent novel about society, about its prejudice, it’s power, and the transformation it causes. It’s not very often that something new happens in the time-worn vampire fiction genre. However, Butler manages to instill something unique into the genre. Where horror meets sci-fi, Octavia Butler creates a chilling, blood curdling fable that questions the very nature of humanity. When a young girl discovers she is actually a genetically engineered 'Ina' (essentially a vampire), she is forced to question her reality and attempt to discover what she truly is. This 'soul searching' novel is a truly refreshing take on vampire mythology. Butler focusses on the vampire-human connections within her plot as the Ina form mutually beneficial 'harems' with humans. While this gives way to some odd and borderline creepy relationships in the book, this overall unique idea is a pleasant change of pace from the usual predator-prey relationship between vampires and humans In 'Fledgling', Butler introduces and develops very well-rounded and likeable characters, including protagonist Shori. More importantly, Butler creates a well-paced plot that does not dawdle on useless details, concentrating on the vividly realized tale of horror and romance alike.
Humans have been conquered and now the vampires rule. That’s the premise of E.E. Knight’s wonderful Vampire Earth series. Vampire Earth is a skillful blending of different genres. It's one of those books where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The book (series in fact) follows the life of David Valentine, a man whose parents have been murdered by agents of the Kurians, otherworldly "vampires" that have enslaved humanity. The world is not as you know it, but rather a post-apocalyptic wasteland that's been corrupted and conquered by the alien overlords. Into this world is born Valentine. For those of you who like your books gritty, you won't have too much to complain about when reading this novel. The action is absolutely vicious and heart pumping when it happens. This book is all about surviving by any means possible. It’s not the most sophisticated of the vampire books in the vein of say, Butler’s Fledgling. There is no hidden depth to the the novel, no subtext message present (other than maybe "it would suck to be conquered by an alien vampiric race"). But all that other stuff doesn't matter when you read the book.

Books in Vampire Earth Series (11)

If you're looking to retrace history back to the roots of the dark and alluring vampire mythology, then Polidori's novella is the book for you. Accredited as one of the original Vampire fantasy novels, Polidori's novella 'The Vampyre', encapsulates the unprecedented horror of traditional vampire mythology, playing on the genuine superstitious fears of the general public at the time of publication. The plot of terror and blood, although somewhat predictable, was the first of its kind written in English prose and, thus, had a great deal of influence across the world, particularly due to its revolutionary re-imaging of the stereotypical vampire into an aristocratic seducer of women. The story itself is based on a fantastical tale told by a well-known Romantic Poet, Lord Byron, and immediately draws the reader into an exciting account of friendship, deceit, love and murder, taking it from a clichéd horror story into an intriguing and diverse sub-genre of fantasy. This novella perfectly introduced the world to a chilling and unique take on vampires, spawning one of the most popular sub-genres of fantasy and horror. Polidori's interpretation of the vampire myth was so revolutionary at the time of publication, it would subsequently be adapted to both film and opera.
Penned by British author, Brain Lumley, this series of horror novels blur the line between fantasy and reality. First and foremost a vampire novel, Necroscope follows the story of man who can communicate with the dead and an evil force known as Thibor Ferenczy, a formidable and truly evil vampire.The plot of these novels is far from conventional, often eliciting images of insanity on Lumley's behalf, however, the surprisingly crisp, distinctive dialogue and imagery makes for an incredible journey into the world of espionage, communism and most importantly, vampires. Furthermore, Lumley's complex and multifaceted creation of the sadistic and slightly manic villain, Ferenczy the vampire, is completely unique, setting the Necroscope series apart from every other vampire series on the shelves.With a well-developed and nuanced plot, Lumley encapsulates old school horror in this epic series. By incorporating the real setting of the Cold War into a richly dark and macabre tale, Lumely has created a truly intriguing series, one that is definitely worth adding to your vampire fantasy collection.

Books in Necroscope Series (14)

In a pastiche of sci-fi, fantasy and horror, Justin Cronin's novel 'The Passage' explores an apocalyptic universe where a secret government experiment gone wrong leaves vampires ruling the world while humans face an endless battle for survival. This whopping 766-page book creates an extraordinary alternate universe, immersing readers into the stark and bleak prospects of an apocalyptic world.Many critics of the novel have highlighted the annoyingly common use of diary entries and military reports in order to outline essential and dramatic plot development. However, this can be forgiven by Cronin's cleverly developed characters and chilling use of imagery.  Cronin's emotive writing coerces sympathy from his readers, even making the vampires or 'virals' likable characters.  Set for at least two more subsequent installments, this novel is left on jaw-dropping cliffhangers, leaving readers perhaps slightly confused, but also desperate for more. An intriguing and complex story, 'The Passage' makes for a gargantuan post-apocalyptic masterpiece.Even better, The Passage is the first in a trilogy, so you can continue following the story through the sequels, which surprisingly, hold up pretty well to the first (though not as good).

Books in The Passage Series (2)

With such a chilling title, it's easy to think 'They Thirst' is going to be another gory addition to vampire fiction. To some extent, this is true as the city of Las Angeles is partially transformed into a literal city of the dead. However, despite the use of some clichéd vampire tropes, MacCammon manages to write an electrifying and terrifying tale of awe-inspiring evil. Abandoning any attempt to paint vampires as misunderstood creatures of the night, 'They Thirst' is a brilliant reminder of why humans are scared of the dark and McCammon's prose chillingly fits with the disturbing tone of the novel. With descriptions like "prepare to face the Prince of Evil and his satanic disciples", MacCammon occasionally draws dangerously close to corny writing. However, these sloppy descriptions are few and are made up for MacCammon's relentless pacing and ruthless characterisation of the novel's villains. While 'They Thirst' has been criticized for its darker take on vampires, many view the inhuman and pitiless vampires as a truly fitting adversary for the citizens of Las Angeles.
This cleverly named comic fantasy novel from the 'Witches' subseries of the 'Discworld' novels, is an oddity amongst the dark, dangerous and terrible world of popular vampire novels today. This satirical novel embraces all that is vampire, and completely undermines it, making for a clever and well written critique of vampire mythology. Based on a family of vampires who invade the city state of Lancre, this book is a delightful read for those who wish to delve into the world of vampires, but don't quite have the stomach for the blood and guts. Pratchett's novel revolves around multiple narratives, simultaneously describing extremely detailed accounts of each individual's character development and growth. Throughout the novel's final chapters, these plot point converge in a highly entertaining and equally enthralling climax. The pace of this novel is particularly speedy, making for a rapid and captivatingly quick read. Labelled by some as "a bit batty," this novel is the perfect introductory book for those wishing to explore a unique take on the usual vampire mythology.With excellent prose and endless witty banter, Prachett has created a wonderful series that will stand the test of time and is certainly a welcome change to the stereotypical vampire novel.

Books in Discworld Series (72)

It was inevitable that Myer's corny, teen vampire romance would be one of the best-selling fantasy series of this day and age. After a quite lull in the vampire fantasy sub-genre, Myer managed to ignite the flame of vampire fantasy with new vigor, causing a world-wide vampire obsession. Myer cleverly used what she knew every teenage girl wanted - an attractive, yet painfully unreachable teen heartthrob - and created a modern and captivating love story, seamlessly melding these two very different sub-genres' together. The multifaceted plot of this story has something for every reader whether they're looking for a story of love, passion, violence, magic, drama and most importantly vampires, giving this series sweeping popularity with people of all ages and outlooks. Although a vampire falling in love with a human and vice versa isn't unchartered territory, Myer's emotional and captivating narrative immediately draws readers into the depths of her saga, compelling them to follow the twists and turns of Bella and Edward's love affair. Myer's four-part series earned her a number of prestigious nominations and titles, including being named best book of the decade by Amazon. Myers novels have also been adapted into a multi-million-dollar movie series of the same name.
The original Dracula had become firmly cemented in society as the novel that placed the spotlight on vampires, kick-starting a whole sub-genre of fantasy and horror. In 'Dracula Unbound', Brian W. Aldiss paints a fascinating and truly genre defying story that takes the 'sci-fi' premise of time travel and applies it to vampire fantasy fiction. In the elaborate story, Aldiss merges science with the supernatural and manages to weave together several different timelines, sub-plots and genres in an immensely entertaining adventure. The titular Dracula is a truly menacing villain and is used powerfully and sparingly throughout the book. One of the most entertaining features of 'Dracula Unbound' is Dracula's time-spanning relationship with a famous writer, none other than Bram Stoker himself. While some readers may take offense at the pseudo-scientific explanations, Aldiss' writing is replete with rich descriptions and edge-of-your-seat developments. Aldiss manages to cohesively integrate the classic gothic tone of vampire fiction with intriguing futuristic concepts like time travel paradoxes and nuclear waste. As a world threatening danger looms, Aldiss pulls out all the stops, delivering a climatic ending that will be sure to satisfy science fiction and fantasy horror readers alike.
As the source material behind the hit TV shows of the same name, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's vampire horror novel has received massive publicity after the TV show's success. After reading 'The Strain', it's easy to see why the TV adaption has become so popular. Del Toro and Hogan take the typical horror premise of a 'contagious virus' and apply it to the vampire genre. While the book's plot is largely unsurprising, del Toro and Hogan excel at crafting characters with depth. As the battle for New York City unfolds, mysteries abound and the brutal threat of the vampire menace is made abundantly clear during several 'blockbuster' action sequences.The book is fast paced and relatively easy to read for anyone interested in the vampire horror genre. In 'The Strain', del Toro and Hogan take a modern interpretation of the vampire mythos that firmly rejects the notion that vampires are misunderstood, dapper and brooding creatures. Focusing on a Dracula-like figure called 'The Master', the book's fiendish vampires are utterly alien and devoid of romanticism, beauty and sympathy. The realism and scare factor in 'The Strain' is a refreshing change of pace and establishes the novel as a truly unique and horrifying entry in vampire fantasy.

Books in The Strain Series (2)

A novel based on an alternative history usually make for a peculiar and enticing read and this series by Kim Newman is no exception. The Anno Dracula series, inspired by, you guessed it, Stoker's Dracula, is peppered with a number of well-known historical figures such as Queen Victoria and Jack the Ripper, making it a far more realistic and believable narrative than most vampire fiction. Newman's story is truly panoramic, including an alternative ending to Stoker's Dracula that is layered with politics, mystery, love and most importantly horror. Newman, a self-proclaimed horror enthusiast, does not hold back in his fantastical tale, shoving the brutal, horrific side of the Victorian age in the face of his readers. One of the book's strongpoints is the way Newman cleverly utilizes real events to enhance the novel's main narrative, a compelling and inventive history of the blood curdling legend of mass murderer, Jack the RipperThrough every chapter, an aura of oppressive fear and suspense keeps readers hooked on a series that will continue to excite vampire enthusiasts for decades to come.
'The Historian' is a clever take on the modern vampire mythology, entwining the tale of the Romanian Prince, Vlad Tepes, and his vicious, vampiric personality…Count Dracula. Blurring the line between reality and superstition, Kostova's chilling novel follows the exploits of an unnamed narrator, studying the history and myth of Count Dracula. One of the most entertaining components of this book is the way that Kostova structures the plot. Using multiple timeliness and storytelling devices, it would be easy for Kostova's story to become diluted and bloated. However, 'The Historian' is tightly paced and the narrative organically unfolds across the book's three separate sections. Dracula himself remains a shadowy figure and by the book's end, the reader will remain unsure if the legendary vampire is dead, alive or simply a myth. While some readers will be dissatisfied by the ethereal presence of Count Dracula, 'The Historian' is not a retelling of Bram Stoker's magnum opus and keeps the focus on the infamous vampire's legacy. It is this legacy of blood and terror that makes for such good storytelling and Kostova expertly uses the narrator's old letters as a framing device to ratchet up suspense and blend history with legend.
Few people know that the popular television series, 'The Vampire Diaries', actually originated with a passionate series of the same name. Although there are some notable differences between the popular television drama and Smith's novels, the books follow a similar tale when it comes to Elena Gilbert, a woman torn between her love for two vampire brothers. As clichéd as these novels are, with classic vampire fears of sunlight and wooden stakes, they are an enjoyable combination of teenage romance, graphic horror and fantasy, full of complex, well-developed characters and numerous plot twists. As each book of the series progresses, more and more fantastical characters, including werewolves and witches, are introduced, enthralling motives and hidden agendas are brought to light and the vampires of Mystic Falls become more dangerous than ever. The moody undertones of this novel, paired with the classic American high school tale of undying and unrequited love, make for an entertaining and exciting read.
Carnas' 1980 novel is a truly enlightening read, giving an unusual insight into the existential identity crisis of a deranged and murdering vampire. Based on a vampire whose condition stems from a biological mutation, rather than a bite, these five short stories, although all somehow connected to the protagonist, Dr. Weyland, earned Carnas the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 1981. The villain of the short story collection, an innocuous college professor who runs a sleep study on his students to find victims, is a refreshing take on human evil. Furthermore, Carnas' titillating and enjoyable narrative does not rely on a handsome, brooding male vampire protagonist to entertain her readers. Although many readers have found the lack of gore and horror to be less than entertaining (Dr. Weyland doesn't even have teeth!), Carnas' take on the modern vampire stays true to its roots and deliver an intense psychological thriller that ties five very different narratives into a multi-faceted and overall absorbing read.
Widely regarded as a classic addition to vampire fiction, 'Carmilla' is usually referred to as a novella rather than a full-length book. However, despite its short length, this captivating story is deserving of a place on this list for its attention to detail as well as the haunting focus on the vampire, Carmilla, and her young prey, an heiress named Laura. Carmilla takes the disturbing idea of unknowingly living with a vampire and crafts a deeply sinister tale of obsession, misperception and fear. As one of the earliest novels about vampires, Carmilla is heavily influenced by the Gothic style of horror fiction. Despite the conservative time of writing, Carmillia is permeated with ground-breaking ideas, including lesbian relationships and female protagonists. However, it would be a mistake to label Carmilla as a pleasant tale of sensuality and friendship. The relationship between Carmilla and Laura is the bedrock of this novel and while their poignant discussions are sometimes innocent, Le Fanu succeeds in layering a constant feeling of suspense and menace to Carmilla's innocuous words. In a quarter of the length of other vampire fantasy novels, Le Fanu successfully creates an unforgettable character relationship between Carmilla and Laura, laying the foundations of the contemporary mythology of erotic and carnal bloodsuckers. 
This inventive interpretation of the vampire myth, with vampires feeding on more than just blood, was one of the first psychic vampire novels of its time. Considered a classic among Victorian gothic novels, this book blurs the line between fact and fiction, posing a horrifying vision of a brutal, vampire ridden reality. Viereck's prose and plot, although somewhat clunky to begin, does begin to build momentum, eventually culminating into a well-executed ending, with refreshing and innovative plot twists along the way. The fact that Viereck created a vampire who wasn't just after blood but for your mind and soul, creates a far more riveting psychological thriller that has readers asking 'what next?' for the entirety of the novel. Viereck's vampire is relentless and formidable, feeding on the human psyche with no remorse. This book may not be as well received by those looking for blood, guts and horror. For others, 'The House of the Vampire' will make for an entertaining and unique vampire thriller that left readers wanting more.
This 19th Century novel epitomizes the Gothic genre, centering on the dark, eccentric story of a bloodthirsty vampire and his crumbling aristocratic family. It has been an endless source of debate for readers as to whether the protagonist, Varney, was in fact a literal vampire, or if the authors just wrote him to act like one, making the narrative somewhat distorted and confusing at times. Despite this, Varney the Vampire has been attributed to being one of the few books that revolutionized the classic vampire genre, along with Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Feast of Blood’, this novel really is a truly bloody and horrific tale, with graphic scenes of deceit, attempted murder and pitch-fork brandishing civilians.Being originally published as a weekly column, the chronology of the book is fairly sporadic and sometimes, downright undiscernible, however, any self-respecting vampire enthusiast should give this book a try, if only for the unusually entertaining undertones of the novel.
Despite being published around the same time as Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, Marryat presents a vastly different and original tale. The ‘vampire’ in this novel has been argued to be a metaphor for hysterical woman, which, given the time period this book was published, would be a reasonable assumption. This ‘hysterical’ vampire, who ‘sucked’ the life out of the people around her, is shrouded in ambiguity, leading to two very different interpretations of this novel…then again, she was probably just a vampire. With such vivid and intriguing melodrama, Marryat presents a painfully accurate image of an estranged, Victorian lady, while providing readers with a story that does not conform to the overused paradigm of a blood-sucking vampire. As a truly horrifying and ‘muted’ Gothic novel, this book’s realism makes it all the more frightening for readers.
This exceptionally entertaining novel features a highly likable and relatable protagonist and a bunch of vampires that are a far more accurate representation of the blood sucking fiends, in comparison to their young adult fiction counterparts. These vampires are rotting, blood sucking, walking dead, which when you think about it, is a far more accurate illustration of what a traditional vampire really is. Although the label ‘vampire romance’ may instill fear in your heart, don’t be fooled by this generalized label of McKinley’s novel. McKinley designs a dynamic cast of characters within her largely well-conceived plot, giving readers a taste of some unconventional characters in a vampire story. ‘Sunshine’ is a novel that strayed far from McKinley’s usual writing style and genre, making it a refreshing read for McKinley fans. While the X-rated themes in this novel make it more appropriate for young adults, the mature and tactful writing style employed by McKinley makes it suitable for teens and adults alike. Far from a trashy teen romance that populates the paranormal romance genre (which, regrettably, has given the high-quality, more serious works of Vampire fiction a bad name), McKinley makes a feisty, truly admirable protagonist who shines in the face of danger, keeping you enthralled as her story unfolds.
While we've given a selection of some of the more serious works of Vampire fiction, sometimes you want a more low brow read, one full of teen angst, young adults, and some of the trappings that made the Twilight books a hit.In that vein, Richelle Mead created a pretty solid YA masterpiece when she penned the ‘Vampire Academy’ series, a lighter, more romantic take on the vampire genre, set in a schoolyard stage. These books, typically targeted at young adults, perfectly combined a classic teenage vampire story and twisted it into a truly unique and detailed vampire fantasy. While this book does stick to some tradition vampire lore, Mead creates an entirely new narrative and unprecedented take on the vampire world that is free of awkward phrasing and sappy characterization. The use of a highly trained ‘guardian’ to protect a mortal vampire princess from immortal vampire assassins is certainly a twist on the classic vampire novel that no reader has seen before. Although the various subplots of this series are fairly predictable (hint: the protagonist falling in love with her trainer/vampire princess falling in love with a naïve nerd), it is the entire vampire reality that Mead creates which makes this series a far more intriguing and compelling read than most other vampire novels. While the film adaptation of these novels wasn’t exactly a box-office hit, this novel and its accompanying film are an entertaining and easy read that can give you a good hit of vampire fiction to keep you going until another vampire novel hits the shelves.

Books in Vampire Academy Series (6)

This 12-part series took the teenage vampire sub-genre to new levels with its relatively original and relatable plot line. The authors of this series took a tired and overused genre and turned it into an entirely unique tale involving a vampire night school, a young female heroine and an endless series of dramas, involving love, deceit and life or death scenarios. Because of that, it's a worthy series to add to the list of best vampire books.Although this series has enough love triangles to put ‘The Days of Our Lives’ to shame, the far more steamy and heated love affairs of protagonist Zoe and her group of fledgling vampire friends, make for a more mature and juicy read than some of the more juvenile works of vampire fiction pumped out these days.Understand that this is more of a low-brow fantasy and certainly nothing as deep or thoughtful as the more serious treatments of vampires by other authors, the series is regardless, pretty damn fun to read.Although the Cast family has received some very (VERY) mixed reviews for this series due to more than a few misguided statements involving a gay best friend and female sexuality, the overarching story of the book was complex and well-paced, building up to a gripping fight against a greater threat to the House of Night Vampire family in the final novels of the series. The Cast family may have demonstrated just how well they can write like a group of ill-informed and completely judgmental teenagers with this incredibly unusual series, but it is possible to look past the flaws and enjoy this series as a fun, guilty dive into the world of vampirism.Goofy, yes. A Guilty pleasure read, maybe. Something you should read if you want Days of Our Lives, 'The Vampire Edition'? Absolutely.
There are few things harder to control than emotion and this makes magic in The Cold Firetrilogy immensely difficult. The planet Erna is controlled by a force known as the fae, which makes humans subconscious emotions and fears real. Often, it’s as much a fight against magic as it is with it. After centuries, people’s thoughts have manifested strongly enough to create the planet’s own gods, but also to create demons and faulty technology. The fear that tech won’t function correctly has knocked its inhabitants back to the medieval days, but there are also some who can control the fae. Fae manifests in four ways. Earthcomes from the planet’s seismic activity, Solar from the sun’s light, Tidal from its moons, and Dark from those places devoid of light. By using symbolism and sacrifice, sorcerers have learned to manipulate these forces, with some able to see and shape it instinctively. The intelligent way C.S. Friedman has built the world means magic is prevalent in every aspect of the story. It blends fantasy, sci-fi, and horror,while suggesting thatlimitless imagination isn’talways a good thing.

Books in The Coldfire Trilogy Series (3)

Similar Recommendations

Magister Trilogy

You might like Friedman's newer series (Magister Trilogy) which has some darker elements to it (one must suck the life out of a person to use magic). It's not nearly as dark as The Coldfire trilogy though and there is no anti-hero.

The Crooked Letter

Read The Crooked Letter (Book One of the Cataclysism) by Sean Williams for a story set in a horror tinged world with a magic system that's sort of similar to that of The Coldfire Trilogy. It's not the same plot or anything, but it's one of those books that introduces deeper human issues into the fabric of the story and the setting is somewhat reminiscent of the weird world of The Coldfire Trilogy -- a place where monsters and creatures of the dark just lurk around the corner.

The Warded Man

If you like the horror aspect of The Coldfire Trilogy where creatures of the dark wait just around the corner out of sight, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting humans, give Peter V. Brett's The Warded Man a read. Not the same style plot and the writing is not as good, but the world portrayed is quite interesting with demons coming out at night prowling the landscape and killing any humans not behind special wards. Only the first book is good, however; the other 2 books were absolute disappointments.

The Abhorsen Trilogy

Look at The Abhorsen Trilogy; the world portrayed is one with dark creatures lurking in practically every nook and cranny of the landscape. 

Spook's Apprentice

Also read Joseph's Delany's Spook's Apprentice series which is a YA story about a young apprentice who works as a sort of exorcist in a landscape filled with creatures of the night.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

The Coldfire Trilogy has a very strong anti-hero. For epic fantasy with a strong anti-hero, you probably can't more anti hero than The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.

The Prince of Thorns

For a strong anti-hero tale about a prince who decides to take back his throne by fair means or foul (and mostly foul), read The Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Nothing is similar about the plot, but there may be some overlap between one of the anti-hero characters' in both novels, willing to do anything at all to achieve their goal of power. 

The Black Company

You should also read Glenn Cook's The Black Company books -- I would count these books as dark fantasy. The characters are morally ambiguous and in fact fighting for a side that many would consider "evil" or the "dark lord" (in this case, a "dark lady"). His new series, The Tyranny of the Night, also has some of those dark fantasy elements too -- like the ColdFire world, dark spirits come out at night to attack humans. 

The Warded Man

For one more recommendation that features a world somewhat like the Coldfire one (in that monsters come creeping out of the shadows at night), read The Warded Man.

The First Law trilogy

For another epic fantasy series that's character- and plot-driven with some anti-hero elements and morally ambiguous characters, Abercrombie's The First Law series comes to mind. 

A Song of Ice and Fire

The same goes for Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire -- a huge cast of completely amoral "hero" characters. Good and evil are not clearly delineated.

The Talisman

I would also suggest Steven King's The Talisman, which is about a young boy who must enter into a dark fantasy world to save his mother. There is a strong delineation between good and evil, but the world itself is pretty dark. Of course, if you like the Talisman, then King's The Dark Tower (which has some dark fantasy elements to it) is a given read too.

The Scar

If you don't mind novels that are not your standard heroic fantasy, but have a strong element of "Gothic" to them and a cast of bizarre characters you might find in any horror novel, you can check out some of China Mieville's works (The Scar).

Fevre Dream

Finally, if you like the whole partial "vampire" aspect of the main hero, you might want to read George Martin's stunning Fevre Dream.'


Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. For a read about a place where people have their desires and whims fulfilled, read the classic Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. It's the same sort of premise (different setting and story of course) as the Cold Fire, just the science fiction version of it on a spacecraft.