Vampires have been and will always be a wonderful creature that runs through the pages of comic books, graphic novels and literary books, but these few stand out as some of the best of the lot. Of course choosing vampires in literature is always a daunting task, and as such, is entirely subjective.
Lestat de Lioncourt from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. “The Brat Prince” has helped form what many see as the template for how a vampire should be in modern day fiction. His boldness, enthusiasm, defiance and charm has made him the iconic vampire of the 20th and 21st century. You can begin to read his exploits in the first book of the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice in ‘Interview With A Vampire’.
Appearing in 1871 as a serial narrative in the magazine ‘The Dark Blue’, Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 27 years, and even though it is lesser known and far shorter, the impact it has had is very noticeable. Being the first lesbian female vampire in literature, she’s easily one of the most iconic, even with the obscure following. You can find her originally in ‘The Dark Blue’ or in the authors later short stories, ‘In A Glass Darkly’.
One of my personal favourite characters in a new series by G.D. Falksen, Dr. Babette Varanus is one of the main protagonists, and is one of the Shashavani. Erudite vampires who are all about the pursuit of knowledge, and when you live forever that is the best usage of time as far as I’m concerned. This series is intelligent and has a fresh twist on supernatural creatures (such as vampires) that isn’t typical in anything I have read in quite a long time. That goes doubly for the characters. Dr. Varanus is tiny, sassy, all about the sciences, and like myself she is not fond of duels at Christmas time. Absolutely check out this series.
The principal ”bad guy” in Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, Barlow is strangely a little known character among most readers despite being the main ‘antagonist’. It’s a rare case of the book having more fame than the characters in it, as opposed to Stoker’s Dracula being more well known than the book. Salem’s Lot is well worth the read if you have not done so before, and Kurt Barlow is a character you should know in your vampiric repertoire.
Not really needing an introduction at this point, Stoker’s Dracula is a character that is arguably the most well known vampire to date. If you don’t know who Dracula is…You best click that hyperlink and educate yourself! Remember to stay away from the sparkles, my friends.
The first vampire to appear in English fiction, published in 1819, Lord Ruthven is easily one of the best classic creatures to appear in literature. Mysterious, alluring, sexual, and terrifying…He is the classic vampire that went on to inspire a number of other writers and novels, including Dracula and most other creatures of the night that we know in this day and age.
A 19th Century Armenian noble man who is afflicted with gigantism. Sardu is a gentle man in life, but once The Master takes over his body, he is ferocious monster with unnatural strength and power. To be entirely honest, explaining a character such as Jusef Sardu/ The Master is difficult if you have not read Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Strain’ series, and understand how different the vampires are in the series. If you’re the type that enjoys their horror or vampires on the screen, then you’re also in luck! The Strain is on FX as a TV series that started on July 13th, 2014. I for one am incredibly excited to see how this series unfolds in television form. So far, I am entirely pleased.
For those who have only seen the films, they are based on the original book by John Lindqvist. In the original novel, it presents Eli as an androgynous boy, who had been castrated centuries before by a sadistic vampire nobleman. The film handles the issue of Eli’s gender more ambiguously. A brief scene in which Eli changes into a dress offers a glimpse of a suggestive scar but no explicit elaboration. This is personally one of my favourite novels, it’s different from other vampire related stories, as it’s children and not the usual sexual tension of adults, vampires, and whatnot.
Before ‘A Song of Fire and Ice‘ was murdering its way into every ones heart, in 1982 there was Fevre Dream and the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York. An eerily atmospheric novel that covers a span of forty-something years, it’s well worth the read if you enjoy Martin’s writing and characters. York is a different kind of main vampiric character in that he has a personal mission to free his kind from their need to drink human blood. That doesn’t sound incredibly original now, but it was back then and the way that the character is written…You will enjoy it, I assure you.
Reference to Vicente is made in the first issue of the series, but did not actually appear until the second issue. He is the central antagonist of the 30 Days of Night comic book series, and like a few other books and comics, vampirism is portrayed as a virus that can be spread through scratches, bites, or contact with vampire blood. If you have watched the 2007 film adaptation, Vicente was not actually in it, but reference to him is made in the 2010 30 Days of Night: Dark Days sequel.
The vampires in I Am Legend are some of the first to be portrayed as something born from pandemic and disease, as opposed to the classics in the older Gothic styles of writing. The novel influenced a great many number of things, including George A. Romero’s The Last Man on Earth and Night of the Living Dead. It was adapted into a comic book mini-series and a radio play by the BBC, among others. Ruth is unique, as instead of being a mysterious and blood sucking creature of the night, she appears in daylight and isn’t hostile or trying to entirely trick the main character.
D is the first Dhampir on this list, and is the main character in the Vampire Hunter D manga series, and the following anime versions as well. Seemingly cold, unrivaled looks, and superior in strength, he has all the skills and characteristics of a fabulous vampiric character. Wandering through a far into the future post-nuclear Earth, a lot of Vampire Hunter D spins vampires in with all manner of pulp genres. Western, sci-fi, horror, Lovecraftian, demons, occult science…The list continues. There is something to love for everyone!
The Dresden Files are a series of novels that have a neat little twist in that the main character is a wizard private investigator, for one thing. Yes, you read that properly. Secondly is that it’s a series that mixes together hard boiled detective fiction with fantasy where nearly every fictional creature exists, like faeries, vampires, etc. Lara Raith is part of the White Court, one of the courts that the vampires in the story can belong to. Described as being incredibly sensual and yet extremely lethal.
Alucard is an anti-hero and the main protagonist of the Hellsing manga and anime series. It is implied that he is entirely the most powerful asset that the Hellsing organization has, and is arguably the most powerful character in the entire series. He is one of my personal favourite characters to exist in any vampire related manga or anime. He’s cocky, always smirking, and has a fabulous sense of humor…If you have the same sense of humor that I do, that is. Absolutely check it out if you have never heard of it, you won’t regret it.
Carpe Jugulum is #23 in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. If you have never read any of Pratchett’s work, do not go into it without a sense of humor on the subject of vampires and fantasy. Count Magpyre is a fabulous vampire character, wanting to teach his children by helping them to recognize religious symbols, drink wine, eat garlic, and of course only choose the best people to feed from. The entire series is worth the read, though definitely bring your sense of humor with you.
The very first novel in the The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series…And also know to most of you as the TV series called True Blood. If you watch the series, I don’t need to tell you too much about Eric, or this series. However if you aren’t a self-proclaimed ‘Fang Banger’ who has avoided all of the madness: Eric is the owner of a bar called Fangtasia, and ends up getting involved with the main protagonist, Sookie Stackhouse. The entire series is YA and silly, but they do have their charm for sure.
Vampire Knight is another manga with interesting vampire characters that all have their charm. Yuki is the main female protagonist of the series, and has absolutely no memory of her past life at first, later regaining them when she awakens as a Pureblood vampire. Vampire Knight is a wonderful series of manga (and anime adaptation) with gorgeous artwork and characters that are worth checking out.
Choosing just simply ONE vampire as a character from the Anita Blake series was actually fairly tough. If you are unfamiliar with the series, there are many, many characters and a lot of them are involved enough to be considered major. Jean-Claude however is one of the main love interests of the novel main character Anita Blake, and is exactly what you would expect from a series such as this one. Attractive, intelligent, and deadly.
I will admit that I actually have not seen even one episode of the Vampire Diaries TV series, but I have heard a lot about both it and the novels that sparked the adaptation. Damon is the brother of the main protagonist of the series, and is the general antagonist. He’s the essential dark, moody, and obviously attractive character that we all love in steamy vampire novels.
Necroscope is personally to me, one of the most underrated series involving vampires. It’s difficult to explain properly without being entirely confusing. There are speaking to the dead, Wamphyri, pronounced “Vam-Fear-Eee”, and part of a super-secret Soviet spy agency, you have the necromantic Boris Dragosani. There are 16 books in the series, and there are all worth the read. Go get them.
So lovely readers, that is my list of top 20 vampires in literature. Tell me in the comments if there are any you think I missed or who you would choose as your top picks!