I love vampire stories. Since I first watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’ve been fascinated by these creatures and their potential to delve into the darker elements of human nature. Modern vampires stories provide the perfect venue to create allegories that explore sex and death. I can’t get enough of quality vampire fiction.
Luckily, to sate my appetite, my three favorite vampire series all have new books coming out this summer that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
This is the 12th installment in the Southern Vampire Mysteries (which people are calling the Sookie Stackhouse Series nowadays) and to say that I’m anxious for its release is an understatement. This was my first introduction into genre fiction. I’d picked up the first book in my local used bookstore because I thought Dead Until Dark was such a cute title. Since it was my guilty pleasure purchase, I obviously read it before I tackled my other more challenging selections.
It ended up being a week before I’d dive into that copy of Anna Karenina I’d also picked up, because the next morning I went to the bookstore to get the rest of the series (this was back in my pre-Kindle days). I was confused when I couldn’t find it in the “fiction” section and had to be directed by a clerk to the Urban Fantasy/Romance/Mystery shelf by the helpful clerk. I devoured the rest of the series and have taken off a day in May for the last several years just to read the newest release. You might call it an obsession.
It’s not the writing that I love, which is sometimes a bit corny, and it’s not just that these are vampire books. Part of my attraction to the series was a matter of timing, but when it comes down to it, I love these fantastic, quirky characters Charlaine Harris has created and the hidden layers of plot and meaning underneath the southern-fried humor. I love the no-nonsense telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and the world of Bon Temps with its shapeshifters, fairies, and out-of-the-coffin vampires. This next-to-last in the series promises to be full of action and mystery, and quite possibly some angst. Only 18 more days…but who’s counting?
The Fall of Water by Elizabeth Hunter
The last book of the Elemental Series is sure to be exciting. Of course I’m going to love the heroine, Beatrice, because she’s a kick-ass librarian, and really, who wouldn’t fall for smart and sexy Gio? (even if he has a thing for ultimate fighting). B is no damsel in distress; she’s a smart girl who happens to find herself in the middle of a supernatural mystery. Gio, a rare book scholar, teams up with B to track down a mysterious manuscript. Instead of being a stock romantic character, he feels real, full of conflicting emotions. The relationship between these characters isn’t insta-love, but a slow, smoldering build.
Elizabeth gives us a new twist on vampires mythology: each vampire has an affinity and draws power from one of the four elements: earth, wind, fire, or water. It’s not only a fantastic concept, it’s well-executed. I love the world she’s created. This series is the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, romance with a delightful cast of supporting characters. The plot is fast paced–each chapter ends on a cliffhanger so you’re compelled to keep reading. What I love most about books is their ability to transport the reader into another world, and after reading the first three in the series, I feel as if I’ve actually traveled across the globe with B and Gio, from Texas to Chile to China. I can’t wait for the final installment of this exciting series.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Deb Harkness is my personal hero. She’s a professor of the history of science, a wine blogger, and a New York Times bestselling novelist. Her debut novel, The Discovery of Witches, introduced the world of Diana Bishop, a scholar and reluctant witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. When Diana manages to call from the stacks a bewitched alchemic text, Ashmole 782, in the course of her research, it sets off a chain of events that will pull Diana into the underworld of witches, daemons, and vampires she has carefully tried to avoid since the tragic death of her parents.
The Discovery of Witches was exactly the kind of vampire book you’d expect from a historian. It was expertly researched, from the theories of genetics that she uses as the basis for the powers of witches, vampires, and daemons, to the library at Oxford, which I now feel like I’ve visited myself, to Matthew’s impressive wine cellar. The world is unique and absorbing, and the first in this series ends on such a cliffhanger I can’t wait to see what happens in Shadow of Night.
All three of these series are exactly what I look for in vampire fiction: a fantastic, unique world, themes that prompt larger questions about life, and sexiness without smuttiness. If you like mystery, intrigue, and vampires, these are the three series you should check out.
So, what’s at the top of your summer reading list?