There’s no True Blood Retro this week because libraries have something called “˜lending limits’ and “˜only two renewals,’ so I’m waiting for my DVDs to cycle back around again. While we’re all waiting for whomever that other person is bogarting the season 1 set to return it, let’s read something!
The obvious place to start is with The Southern Vampire Mysteries, the series True Blood is based on. Book 11, Dead Reckoning, in the series is due to be released May 3. If you haven’t been reading the novels, it is not imperative to start with Dead Until Dark (book one), especially if you’ve been watching the series. The stories are similar enough that you can jump into the book world and know more or less what’s going on. However, those of you who hate spoilers will want to avoid Dead to the World, which is the novel the fourth season of the show will be loosely based on.
Nominal plot summary: Small town waitress and telepath, Sookie Stackhouse, finds her worldview blown apart after she becomes embroiled in a romance with a vampire. Vampires, werewolves, and witches, oh my!
I firmly believe that no lover of the vampire-romance genre should skip over the Gran of that genre, Anne Rice. For my money, the first three novels of The Vampire Chronicles is some of the greatest world-building, vampire-making, subversive-gay-plotting fiction on the market. The series becomes huge and unwieldy after a while, and Lestat goes from loveable, amoral rogue to unbearably self-absorbed jackass, but it’s a good ride while it lasts. You can also, of course, see the two terrible, horrible, no-good movies that were based on the books, Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned. One is saved by a very young Kirsten Dunst as Claudia and long-hair-era Brad Pitt as Louis, while the other has Stuart Townsend in a see-through shirt. And that is the only positive thing anyone has ever had to say about that film.
Nominal plot summary: The series follows the adventures of the amoral Vampire Lestat across the centuries, from his transformation from a vampire fledgling until something more human-than-human. Book one is told from the viewpoint of his former paramour, Louis, though the rest of the novels are either in first person (Lestat) or omniscient narrator style.
Let the Right One In is nominally a romance novel, in so much that there is a vampire and a boy who loves them, but the book is more of the “unsettling” variety over “cloyingly saccharine,” which is often the problem with paranormal romances. The Mary Sue protagonist has been a real pox upon the genre, but if you find anyone who thinks Oskar or Eli are idealized alter egos, you should back away from them. As quickly and safely as you can. The book inspired a fantastic movie that I can recommend as one of the best vampire movies I’ve seen in at least the past decade. There’s an American remake called Let Me In that I have not seen, but is reportedly not too terrible. Let the Right One In is currently available on Netflix Instant.
Nominal plot summary: 12-year old Oskar suffers abuse at school and isolation at home. His life turns around when an odd little girl moves into the apartment next door. She’s the only friend he’s ever been able to make. The slow reveal of Eli’s identity and the actual implications of what it would mean to be a vampire forever trapped in the body of a child sets this story out from others of its ilk. Warning: if you’re bothered by gore or abuse themes, this is not the book for you.