Every Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.
This week’s subject is “Vampires”:
I unfortunately don’t read much urban fantasy, which knocks a lot of vampires out of my bailiwick. And it’s been ages since I’ve read any Anne Rice. AND I still haven’t gotten around to George R.R. Martin’s vamp novel, Fevre Dream. But I was able to track down a few for you here, so without further ado…
Nothing — The “Belgariad” by David Eddings
And once again we start with David Eddings. Actually we don’t. There aren’t any vampires in the book. Congratulations on finding an Eddings-free trope!
Lucy— The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
Westenra. Locked up in Bedlam with nowhere to feed her hunger. In the science-driven steampunk world of Viola Carr’s debut, Lucy is a mental patient without a surname, but possessing an unexplained hunger. The doctors struggle to find a cause for her lust, animalistic behavior and sharp, pointy teeth, working with Dr. Jekyll to isolate the cause and control her urges. But those of us who’ve read Dracula will recognize this poor girl, Mina Murray’s best friend and the first English victim of the Count’s bloodlust. In Carr’s story, however, her fate is tied more to another classic horror novel.
Silas— The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Okay, Neil Gaiman never actually says that the dour-faced custodian of the graveyard is a vampire. But the evidence certainly points in that direction. The Graveyard Book is a wonderful retelling of Kipling’s The Jungle Books, as Nobody “Bod” Owens is raised by the denizens of the local graveyard after his parents are killed by
Shere Khan the Man Jack. While Bod is raised by a pair of friendly ghosts, Silas is the strong protector, assuming the Bagheera role, guarding the gates of the graveyard and initiating Bod into its supernatural world.
Everyone except Robert Neville — I Am Legend
by Richard Matheson
Fuck Will Smith. Seriously, fuck him. Fuck him for ruining one of the best horror novels (okay, novellas) ever written. At least Charlton Heston tried. Richard Matheson’s 1954 masterpiece has inspired some of the greatest voices in horror and been the basis for some awful movies. In the story, Neville is the sole survivor of a global pandemic which has turned the entire population into vampires. Neville, out of grief over the loss of his son, hunts the vampires relentlessly while trying to discover another living human. When he meets Ruth, he thinks he has found proof that humanity has survived, but alas, he discovers the true horror in himself.
Arthur Holmwood — Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula may remember Holmwood as the young nobleman who wooed Lucy Westenra (Cary Elwes played him in Coppola’s film). In Kim Newman’s wonderful Gaslamp horror novel, a blend of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Holmwood is one of three survivors of the assault on Count Dracula. As the most useless member of Mina and Lucy’s saviors, he has succumbed to vampirism, along with most of the rest of England. Dracula has assumed the throne, vampires and humans live side by side, and a serial killer is on the loose, attacking vampire prostitutes in Whitechapel (hint, it’s another character from Stoker). Holmwood is a rising star in the world of vampire politics, serving as assistant to the prime minister, but with eyes on the Count’s throne. If you haven’t read this book, add it to your list, if only to play “spot the pop culture vampire” – pretty much every vampire from literature and TV appears somewhere (maybe not The Count from Sesame Street).
Edit: Kim Newman tweeted me to say that The Count DOES actually appear in the latest Anno Dracula novel, Johnny Alucard.