From the reported reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the explosive success of Twilight, there’s no question about it: vampires are “in” right now. At once dangerous, bloodthirsty, and sensual, vampires are the perfect villains to mesmerize both protagonists and readers.
But there’s much more to this burgeoning genre than just Edward Cullen. Hopefully, this post will show you the exciting depth and rippling complexity of vampires in fiction. Read on for 30+ of the best vampire books for you to devour.
1. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Domingo is a mere street kid. Atl is an ancient vampire with ties to a tribe from the Aztec Empire. So it certainly complicates things when Atl comes across Domingo and sees a tasty snack, whereas Domingo looks at Atl and is immediately infatuated. Then there’s the small matter of the vampire gangsters who are dogging both of their heels — and the cop who ends up chasing them by accident. It’s a recipe for some really bloody danger, one that Certain Dark Things serves up with appetizers of gusto, rich folklore, and breathless action.
2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
You know the feeling: you’re just minding your own business, making a regular trip to the library for your research, when you unwittingly end up summoning a horde of supernatural creatures. What’s a young scholar like Diana Bishop to do? Well, the key to this spectacle probably starts and ends in the mysterious book that she found deep in the shelves of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Ashmole 782. But the problem is that she wants nothing to do with it — seeing as she’s a witch herself. This spellbinding debut novel is a must-read for all vampire-loving bibliophiles.
3. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
If you only know GRRM as the creator of this decade’s juggernaut, Game of Thrones, brace yourself for a tale of vampirism that is equally gory and fascinating. Fevre Dream is GRRM’s story about a struggling riverboat captain who’s approached one day by a prospective business partner. But little does Abner Marsh know that he is entering a pact with repercussions for all of mankind, even as he begins to suspect that his client — a mysterious aristocrat who is suspiciously pale — is not all that he seems.
4. ’Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Something terrible made Jerusalem’s Lot what it is today: a small ghost town in Maine with a dwindling population. What caused the original inhabitants to succumb to this evil power so many years ago? And what does it all have to do with the newest resident, who still lives quietly in ‘Salem’s Lot? Though ‘Salem’s Lot was only Stephen King’s second novel, it carries all the hallmarks that crowned him the king of horror: breathless twists, a tightly-paced plot, and a creeping dread that will steal up on you with every turn of the page.
5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
In a land far, far away, a centuries-old count seeks to cross Europe to conquer Britain, through the power of his own blood. In London, a small group of human beings, led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing, prepare to meet him — and destroy him. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to step into the land of Transylvania and enter a crumbling castle to meet Dracula: the legendary novel that first indelibly imprinted the modern vampire onto the public consciousness.
6. Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox
Jules Duchon isn’t your average vampire. To be more specific, he weighs 450 pounds and isn’t sexy in the slightest (no thanks to the fatty blood of the New Orleans folks that he drinks). Now he must contend with a new vampire in his neighborhood — and this new guy named Malice X is young, cocky, and bloodthirsty. Rest assured, it isn’t easy being a vampire in New Orleans, which this delightful romp of a novel shows in spades and stakes.
7. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
It is autumn 1981 in Blackeberg, Sweden. Oskar is a twelve-year-old boy who’s been bullied every day of his life. Eli is the girl who’s just moved in next door. But this isn’t the beginning of your everyday YA romance, because Eli might not be a someone so much as a something. Atmospheric and beautifully rendered, this Swedish sensation was adapted into a movie that quickly accumulated the same accolades that the book did.
8. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
A sparkling debut novel by Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian is the story of one young woman who discovers something curious in her father’s library: the remnants of a centuries-old hunt for an ancient, legendary ruler. Now she must decide whether or not to take up the gauntlet, even though it will bring her face-to-face with the chilling question that has brought ruin to every historian who’s tried to answer it: who truly is Vlad the Impaler?
9. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
One of the most influential books in this genre, I Am Legend introduced readers to Robert Neville: the last man standing in a world overcome by a virus that turns humans into vampires. Now Neville has to fend off both the bacteria and the infected creatures who threaten him on his doorstep every night. To say any more would be to spoil it for you, but rest assured that the ending is sure to leave a deep impression on your mind, as has for millions of readers since its release in 1954.
10. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
Lauded upon publication, Octavia E. Butler’s last novel is a masterful tour de force in science fiction. This is the story of Shori Matthews: a 10-year-old girl who discovers that she is actually a 53-year old vampire. But her determination to fight her amnesia leads her on a breathtaking and traumatic journey to find out who she is — and who so dearly wants her dead.
11. Vampire$ by John Steakley
Vampire$, Inc. is your regular money-making business: if you pay its fees, it will hunt down vampires for you. That is, until something goes awry at a party and all of its employees are slaughtered in return. Now only Jack Crow, the leader of Vampire$, Inc., remains alive — and needless to say, he’s out for revenge. Discover for yourself why Vampire$, the perfect marriage of vampirism and hard-boiled noir, is a cult classic among its dedicated fans.
12. Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
This book holds all the confessions of a vampire: from the moment that Louis was bitten, to his struggles to survive in New Orleans, to the day that he decides to turn young Claudia. More than that, it’s a book that changed the public perception of vampires when it was first published in 1976, asking its readers to find empathy for the monsters themselves. Beautifully innovative and darkly sensual, Interview with a Vampire is quite simply a story that revived an entire genre.
13. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
It’s the first rule that any respectable King should know: whatever you do, don’t invite the Magpyrs to the party. So what happens when King Verence, in a moment of inspired generosity, goes ahead and does it — and now these despicable, garlic-eating vampires shan’t leave the castle? One of Britain’s most beloved humorists, Terry Pratchett enters the realm of vampires wielding his ever-sharp satire. At the end of the day, there’s nothing else to do but say “Carpe Jugulum” to yourself, and read this book.
14. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
Welcome to the city of St. Louis! It’s Anita Blake’s turf, as a professional vampire hunter and necromancer: someone whose job is to slay the undead when things get out of hand. She’s the best in her line of work, which means that she interacts with a lot of creatures — most particularly, one Jean-Claude, the master vampire whom she must consult when she’s asked to investigate a series of vampire murders. Unfortunately, she’s also terribly attracted to him. If you like your vampires with a dose of sexiness (and some tough detective work), this bestselling book is for you.
15. Way of the Wolf by E.E. Knight
Vampirism meets the good old Western in this wildly popular Vampire Earth series. The year is 2065, the setting is Louisiana — and our rulers are the bloodthirsty Reapers, who have seized control of the entire planet. But a resistance grows in the shadows: one that will be led by Lieutenant David Valentine, who intends to exact revenge on the Reapers, even if it’s the last thing that he does.
16. The Vampyre by John William Polidori
Published in 1819 (before even Bram Stoker’s Dracula), this book might be the birth of the vampire in fiction. Certainly it was the one of the earlier originators of the romantic vampire mythos, as it explores the friendship between a gentleman by the name of Aubrey and the enigmatic aristocrat who goes by Lord Ruthven. Though it’s a short work, John William Polidori’s The Vampyre paved the way for the genre’s later giants to emerge onto the scene.
17. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
One of the earliest works of vampire fiction is also one of the most original for its time. In Sheridan le Fanu’s gothic masterpiece, a young woman is unknowingly the object of obsession for none other than the title character, an ancient vampire who only goes by Carmilla. What’s more, her desire might just take them both straight to the grave. Published in 1872, it is a fascinating window into a time when vampire mythology — and all that it encompasses — was still being dreamt up.
18. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Yes, this is written by that Guillermo Del Toro, the Oscar-winning director of multiple beloved movies. With The Strain, he proves his knack for storytelling far beyond the silver screen, as he dives into the tale of a vampiric virus that has begun to overwhelm the streets of New York — and the confusion and horror that it wreaks. Yet beyond this seemingly simple story is Del Toro’s famously human touch as he handles the “transformation” of a person to a monster with empathetic care.
19. Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon
From one of the godfathers of modern science fiction comes this epistolary novel about a soldier who comes home a little… strange. He’s referred to the Army psychiatrist, who asks him to write his story down. The result is this shocking and strange collection of letters, transcripts, and case studies. A short novel, it nevertheless packs an outsize punch — or should we say bite?
20. Dracula Unbound by Brian Wilson Aldiss
Under the dying sun of Utah, Joe Bodenland stumbles upon a horrifying discovery: an ancient grave that points to a monstrous species of humans, who once walked the land alongside the dinosaurs. Now Joe must use his time machine to do nothing less than prevent a seemingly inevitable future in which homo sapiens are enslaved under the immortal rule of Lord Dracula, who is inconveniently planning to rise again. Though many have tried to adapt the story of Dracula, Aldiss accomplishes it the most masterfully in Dracula Unbound.
21. Children of the Night by Dan Simmons
When a research team travels to Romania on a medical mission, they’re pretty shocked to discover a child in an orphanage whose immune system might be the key to curing cancer and AIDS. The baby is named Joshua, and he was given the wrong blood transfusion in the middle of a deadly illness. But now his mere existence might also bring a clan older than time out from the shadows… Vividly imagined and altogether thrilling, Children of the Night is a must-read that turns the vampire mythos on its head.
22. Fangland by John Marks
Evangeline Harker, a producer for a popular news show, is sent to Transylvania on a business trip that cannot go more wrong… not least because she doesn’t return for a very, very long time. And when she does come back, she seems like a different person altogether. Also, why are coffin-like boxes appearing in her office? And what does this have to do with Torgu, the notorious criminal that she was supposed to interview in Transylvania? Darkly funny, ever satirical, and compulsively readable, Fangland delivers more than the bite that it promises.
23. The Passage by Justin Cronin
When the top-secret product of a military experiment is leaked at a secret U.S. government facility, the world as we know it changes — and the resulting carnage gives rise to a breed of monsters called the Walkers. This is the story of the survivors and their struggle to remain human, in the face of enormous danger and utter inhumanity. As the book’s tagline ominously intones: “Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”
24. They Thirst by Robert McCammon
In the modern-day Los Angeles that They Thirst evocatively renders, evil descends slowly at first: one body here, another there. But then the body count racks up — and all of the murders seem to be occurring at night. The clues all point to a dark power who is older than time and his legion of followers. But what’s even more ominous is the amount that they thirst… for theirs is a thirst that can never be quenched.
25. The Keep by F. Paul Wilson
In the midst of World War II, a faction of German troops is sent to a lonely keep in the Transylvanian Alps to protect their territory. It seems like a simple order at first — until Captain Woermann’s men begin turning up dead in the morning, with their throats terribly disfigured. No human being could commit these acts of violence, and no human being can even hope to remedy the situation... or can he? With the tension heightened by the war in the backdrop, the forces of good and evil combine in this book of pure horror.
26. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Meet Sookie Stackhouse: a quiet, unassuming waitress from the small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. She’s just a normal girl — except that she can read minds. Oh, and she’s dating a vampire. As you might expect, that creates a couple of problems on its own, especially when a number of dead bodies start appearing and fingers start pointing. The perfect blend of comedy, action, and romance, Dead Until Dark is the novel that inspired HBO’s award-winning True Blood.
27. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
In the post-Voodoo Wars world of Sunshine, Rae Seddon (aka Sunshine) is a pastry baker who just needs a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown New Arcadia. And she sure gets one when she makes the huge mistake of getting kidnapped by the vampires. By the time she’s brought to stand before a surprisingly hunky vampire named Constantine, she’ll have to use all of her wits to stay alive in this enthralling novel from one of fantasy’s most trusted names.
28. Vlad by Carlos Fuentes
Before any other vampire, there was Vlad the Impaler: the towering and shadowy figure in the annals of history, whose mere existence inspired Bram Stoker to create Dracula. That said, this tongue-in-cheek continuation of Vlad’s story could only have been written by Carlos Fuentes — for now Vlad wishes to establish dominion over the land of Mexico. But first, he needs to go house-hunting, which means dealing with the (gasp) bourgeoisie and, most particularly, run-of-the-mill real estate agents.
29. The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas
By day, Dr. Edward Lewis Weyland is a professor. But by night, he’s a vampire, and though he didn’t acquire his powers through supernatural means — his condition is biologic — his need to feed upon human blood hasn’t changed. Through four episodic chapters, we see how this urge manifests and how he tries still to interact with society. Suspenseful prose, tight plotting, and the charismatic vampire at the center of it all will compel readers to sink their teeth into this trailblazing book first published in 1980.
30. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Re-familiarize yourself with Abraham Lincoln: savior of the Union, greatest President of the United States, and sworn hunter of all vampires. When he found out about the true reason behind his mother’s death, Lincoln promised to avenge her — and documented it all in his journals, which were discovered later by Grahame-Smith. Though admittedly this secret was hidden for centuries, this is the book that — for the first time in history — sheds light on Lincoln’s courageous fight against the undead and how it shaped the history of America.
31. Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi
The world as we know it has ended in the year 12,090 A.D. For three hundred years, vampires have ruled the world, and the war that humans have staged against their dominion has all but failed. Now there are only a few survivors, and even fewer Hunters — the warriors who have sworn revenge upon the vampiric Nobility. But one Hunter named D may be the key to humanity’s salvation… until it turns out that he himself may be a vampire. Originally written in Japanese and translated into English, Vampire Hunter D is a pulpy vampire book with incredible worldbuilding that turned it into a worldwide phenomenon.
32. Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
If you like your vampires with a delicious side of science fiction and fantasy, Black Sun Rising is the book for you. In an indeterminate time in the future, human beings have settled on the planet Erna. To their horror, however, they find that the planet is inhabited by the fae: a dark force that eats people’s minds alive. Now it’s up to four people — Priest, Adept, Apprentice, and Sorcerer — to go on a mission to defeat this unknown enemy and make uneasy alliances with other supernatural beings. Unhappily, they might just disturb the balance of the universe forever.
33. Agyar by Steven Brust
A lost young man appears one day in a small midwestern town. He calls himself Jack Agyar, but he doesn’t quite seem as though he belongs. One of the most unique books in the genre, Agyar unfolds through the eyes of this ageless being. You won’t see the word “vampire” appear once on its pages — perhaps for good reason. For Jack Agyar is the isolated, struggling “Other” who is irrevocably lost in our modern world, to whom no one ever thought to reveal the price of immortality.