Sunday, October 3, 2010

True Blood behind the scenes Kevin Jackson's top 10 vampire novels Part 3

5. Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Stephen King's only major venture into vampire territory, and a masterpiece of its kind. Dickens might not have enjoyed the subject matter, but he would have nodded with a professional's recognition at King's basic ploy as a story-teller: spend a couple of hundred pages slowly and carefully building up a powerful sense of a real community, with lightning sketches of everyone from schoolchildren to elderly drunks ... and then unleash pure evil. The chapter in which the vampire contagion finally reaches what would now be called the Tipping Point is brilliantly terrifying; on the strength of that passage alone, King would qualify as one of the grand masters of horror fiction.

6. Suckers by Anne Billson

This debut novel by Anne Billson, a noted film critic and frequent contributor to the Guardian, was highly praised by Salman Rushdie and others as a sharp and witty satire on the greedy 1980s. And so it was, but that was only part of the story: it is also a gripping adventure yarn, a tale of the nemesis that may lie in store for us if we have ever committed a guilty act, and a delicious character study of an unconventional young woman whose weaknesses (envy, malice, jealousy) only make her all the more charming to the reader. It contains one of the most chilling moments in all vampire literature: the heroine, trying to pass as a vamp in a crowd of keen-nosed killers, realises that she has begun to menstruate ...

7. Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

Kim Newman's series of novels about an alternative universe in which vampires are the aristocrats, politicians, power brokers and opinion-formers of the modern world is a delicious mixture of wild invention, scholarship, lateral thinking and sly jokes. In the first volume, Anno Dracula, we find out just why the Count came to England – something that Bram Stoker was tight-lipped about: he married Queen Victoria and established a dynasty of Nosferatu. Subsequent volumes include The Bloody Red Baron, in which the vampires of Britain wage ferocious air war against their German counterparts, and Dracula Cha Cha Cha, set in Rome at the time when Fellini is shooting La Dolce Vita. (One of the characters is a Scottish secret agent: Bond; Hamish Bond ...) Unmissable.