Vampires and Other Creatures that Lurk in the Night

Hm.  Longest post title ever?  Mayhaps!

I recently won a book in a contest.  It’s a collection of short stories called The Poison Eaters by Holly Black.  Some of her novels are on my TBR list but this was my first introduction to her.

I may do a full review on that here at some point, but that’s up in the air as that’s not the intent of this blog.

Anyway, many of her stories played on twists on common urban fantasy creatures – fairies, unicorns, vampires – and it got me to thinking.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I do not like vampires.  They are one of my very least favorite plot devices.  Over the years I have read several vampire-centric novels – Dracula, Interview with a  Vampire (and The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned), all four and a half Twilights, Bloodsucking Fiends, etc. – and no matter how well written (0r not) the books, nothing has changed my opinion.

Is it something ingrained?  Genetics?  I doubt that, actually, as my mother loves vampires.  She is at the opposite end of the spectrum as me.  Heck, she watches True Blood and she hates overly dramatized sex/violence.

It’s gotten to the point where if the word “vampire” is mentioned in connection with a book I will flee.  There’s really no logic to it.  Even if you count that vampire novels are oversaturated in today’s market.  It’s not that I have read too many vampire books and am sick of them, it’s that I was never unsick.

Shut up, Firefox, I can make up words if I want to.

I’m not terribly fond of other urban fantasy staples, though I do not have the same knee-jerk “Oh God No” reaction to them.  I am willing to try novels about werewolves or fairies if they are recommended to me.  I have no strong opinions about unicorns.  I like angels, am lukewarm about demons.

Zombies are fairly close to vampires, so one could draw the conclusion that there is something about the undead that turns me off.  Perhaps it is an instinct that I have evolved over the years to help me survive the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse.

There should be more dinosaurs in fantasy.  Also kraken.

One could ask why I read and write urban fantasy when I don’t really like the staples.  There’s  lots of reasons.  I like the idea of there being a more fantastical world just outside the realm of normal life, one that can be stumbled on accidentally.  I like seeing people I can relate to deal with strange situations.  I like the twists, the plays on life and mythology, the what ifs.

I could just do with less vampires.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Idunno on 2011/04/06 at 11:31 AM

    I’m with you on the vampire overexposure. I’ve tried to imagine a new twist on them, but can’t come up with anything I consider fresh or appealing. That said, The Dreseden Files series has an interesting take on them. And that series has more than enough in it to make up for the inclusion of vampires. 🙂

    Perhaps what turns you off of the undead is the smell?

    I just recently read The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross. He takes a Cthulhu Mythos approach to urban fantasy, and it is a very entertaining read. Plus, no vampires.

    Reply

    • I read a short story by Charles Stross – I think it was called Overworked – that involved Lovecraftian mythology, office Christmas parties, and causality. It was fairly brilliant, so I shall look into your novel req.

      I have been somewhat eyeing the Dresden files. I know Sarah also really likes them.

      Reply

      • Harry Dresden is awesome. I finished the Dresden ‘verse short story anthology a week or so ago. I really need to read more of the series though. I have read the first two books, the short stories and every preview chapter up on Jim Butcher’s site.

  2. I have a similar ingrained aversion to anything Arthurian…

    I don’t mind vampires, but I prefer it if their non-humanness is treated as more than just bad-boy sex-appeal. I think there should be something horrific about a once-human monster who feeds on humans!

    Reply

    • Really? I’m the opposite on Arthurian stuff, though I admit sometimes you run into stuff that’s not very well done or, alternately, is overworked and bogged down with mythology.

      I agree with you – if I must deal with vampires, I would prefer them to be portrayed as monsters, because, frankly, they are. I’ve never really understood this current trend of glamorizing them.

      Reply

  3. I’m with you — I’m not big on vampires and never have been, but I love the “fantastical world around the corner” feel of urban fantasy. My first exposure to the genre was Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE, which captures that feel brilliantly — as do his other books, IMHO. 😀

    Conversely, I’m not a big fan of science fiction that’s set in our own time or close to it. I blame my early love of Star Trek. Not sure why I like it in fantasy but not SF — maybe because urban fantasy tends to expand the sense of what’s possible, the wonder in the world (maybe magic is REAL!), whereas near-future SF tends to feature cautionary extrapolations (watch out, because our world could be like this!). Does that make sense?

    Reply

    • Yes, I understand what you’re saying. That’s actually why I like urban scifi, because I like to see where people go with things. They are very different beasts.

      (I also like your more traditional scifi as well. I am an equal opportunity reader.)

      Reply

  4. Posted by scribbles on 2011/04/07 at 9:02 AM

    Kiiiiiiiiiiit. I saw this on my blogfeed and thought you should see this:

    I’m afraid, though, I’ve never really had a problem with vampires or urban fantasy in general. One of my favorite books as a preteen was the Vampire Diaries. (The TV show is a different beast. And something weird happened in the 10-15 years between the most recent installments and the ones I read, and from what I hear of them, I’m pretty turned off and haven’t had the desire to read it anymore.)

    There does seem to be a glut and not every interpretation is to my fancy (not interested in True Blood, for instance), but I have really enjoyed a few in the genre.

    Reply

  5. I’m not a big vampire reader, though I did go through a phase in early high school where I read four of Anne Rice’s books and Christopher Pike’s Last Vampire stuff. Then I tried it again a year and half or so later and couldn’t hack it.

    I do like the layers of vampires in the Harry Dresden books where the three courts are all clearly monsters but not all in the same way. I do sometimes enjoy reading or watching the conflicted vampire (see Forever Knight) and I like the crew in Carousel. Maybe it comes down to my whole love of backstory again.

    I never thought I’d write a book with werewolves and then Jeremiah Was a Werewolf came along. If there’s a scenario that appeals to me, I’ll explore it. I don’t generally write magical creatures for the sake of creatures though (says the person who has transformation of some sort in almost every book/story/plot idea).

    By the way, I dare you to write a kracken into a fantasy novel.

    Reply

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