Monday, October 4, 2010

Kevin Jackson's top 10 vampire novels Part 4

8. The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein

A sophisticated exercise in unreliable narration: the novel purports to be a memoir written some 30 years after the event by a former psychiatric patient who witnessed some terrible events at the exclusive girls school she attended. But, somewhat in the manner of Henry James's classic ghost story "The Turn of the Screw", the reader gradually comes to wonder whether the true villain of the piece might not be the supposed girl-vampire who broods all day in her dorm room but the narrator herself. There are hopeful rumours of a forthcoming film version, to be directed by Mary Harron; fingers crossed.

9. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

No one who has seen the justly acclaimed film version of Lindqvist's bleak but unexpectedly humane novel will need much encouragement to seek out the original, where much that is cryptic about the on-screen story becomes clarified. The heart of the narrative remains the same – a story of friendship and love between Oskar – a lonely, sad, bullied boy – and Eli, the girl (or is she?) vampire who comes to be his protector. But the book encompasses other tales too, and makes explicit the fact that Eli's older male companion is in fact a paedophile as well as a killer. Harsh, and uncomfortable, but compelling.

10. Dracula by Bram Stoker

The daddy of them all; by no means the best-written (Stoker was, at best, a competent prose stylist, and none of his other fictions have stood the test of a century) nor the cleverest, not even the most original ... but none the less a masterpiece of myth-making, comparable only to the works of Mary Shelley and Conan Doyle. It has been said that all western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato; it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that all modern vampire fiction is haunted by Dracula. If you haven't read it, a bloody treat lies ahead.