It glowed in the dark. In 1975, there was a minor rage in my neighbourhood for small plastic models of classic horror characters.
They came in lavishly illustrated boxes and stood about 20 centimetres high. My first was Dracula. I put the model together and spent a lot of time staring at it.
I remember that I was interested in his clothes; the cape in particular inspired me to wander around the house with an orange blanket on my shoulders.
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series has introduced a new generation of readers to vampires, but vampires are anything but new. In ‘Vampires’, Tony Thompson trawls through history in search of literary (and later other media) references to vampires. As far back as the twelfth century, vampires were described, and they were not pretty. Or nice. More like ‘giant leeches’ engorged with blood. Hmm. History is divided on the actual existence of vampires, most dismissing them as fantasy, but others suggesting that there is too much written about them for there not to be some truth. Many writers, comic-book makers and filmmakers have described vampires and vampire personalities and motivations are as varied as the stories. Evil, horrific, romantic, tortured – vampires have been portrayed as all of these.
Vampires introduces the reader to many vampires, but also to the very many story traditions around some of the more famous vampires. Thompson looks at the origins of some of the more famous ways to overcome vampires and also where they developed their dress sense. Vampires is a very readable ‘un-history’. The tone is conversational and engaging. Readers fascinated by the literary genre of vampires will find information about many classic texts. Those who prefer to see the movie can do that too, with links to well-known and lesser-known films and television series. Comic-book fans can also search out stories told in this form. However you like your vampires – from romantic through comedic to horrific – you’ll learn more about them here. Recommended for all vampire fans.
Vampires, Tony Thompson
Black Dog Books 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author