Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kevin Jackson's top 10 vampire novels Part 2

books 2-5

2. Fevre Dream by George RR Martin

A highly atmospheric period piece, set mainly on board a steamboat, plying its trade throughout the southern states of America during the 19th century. Its hero is the captain of the Fevre Dream, Abner Marsh; but Marsh has a curious business partner on board, one Joshua York, who dines at midnight and keeps the company of folk who never seem to appear in daylight. And then a series of terrible events starts to happen ashore ... Now widely considered a modern classic of the form, Martin's novel has been neatly described as an ingenious compound of Stephen King and Mark Twain.

3. Doctors Wear Scarlet by Simon Raven

An unusual digression into the horror genre by a writer more often associated with mordant satire than the biting of jugular veins. The anti-hero is a brilliant but frustrated young Cambridge academic, Richard Fountain – of "Lancaster College" – who goes off on a research expedition to Greece and comes back strangely altered; so strangely that he makes a savage attack on his fiancee, and the daughter of his academic mentor. Raven's book, as one would expect, is thick with social detail and nuance; his interesting decision to make Greece rather than Transylvania the ancestral home of vampirism shows that he had done some proper research into the folklore of the undead.

4. Fangland by John Marks

 A recent, well-constructed thriller written as a self-conscious homage to Dracula – so self-conscious that its heroine is called Evangeline Harker, after Bram Stoker's hapless hero Jonathan Harker – and she makes the same journey into Romania/Transylvania as her fictional predecessor. But where Jonathan was a humble solicitor, Evangeline is a producer on the American network news programme The Hour (for which it is probably safe to read Sixty Minutes; John Marks once worked forthat show himself, so presumably knows his media turf). The action really clicks into spooky gear when a series of mysterious crates are shipped back to the offices of the show ... Mark's novel   has been optioned as a movie, and at last report was already in pre-production.