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Vampire Fantasy

What is Vampire Fantasy?

For more than a century Vampire Fantasy stories have been popular in literature, movies, television shows, but it has existed since the 18th century. Originally, these stories were based on ancient myths—usually Romanian. In these older stories, vampires are often depicted as dark embodiments of evil. There are many old tropes and cliches that were once compelling and inventive: vampires can't see their reflection, garlic and crosses are the vampire's weakness, silver and sunlight are fatal, fanged vampires, vampires as shape shifters, supernatural or superhuman powers, coffins, the list goes on.


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Vampire Fantasy is known for its strong supernatural elements and undertones of blood, sex, and death. However, as the sub-genre has developed even these characteristics have changed. Beginning in the 20th century, depictions of vampires began to change—they became poetic heroes of tragedy. The genre has become fluid and can utilize techniques and elements of many other genres and sub-genres: Gothic Horror, Romance, Teen Romance, Crime Drama, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller, and even the Comedy genre.

 

Other Features of Vampire Fantasy

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  • Level of Magic

    Low-None. Vampire Fantasy is more supernatural than magical. It is only recently that vampires have begun to exhibit special powers.

  • Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    Variable. Engagement with social implications is not particularly common in newer Vampire Fantasy (those that are heavy on romance and appealing to the young-adult audience). However, some Vampire Fantasy succeeds at making the reader see our society from the perspective of an outsider who is often ostracized and forced into hiding. These types of vampire stories show us how minorities are treated within society. Another common theme is about the value of life—what does it mean to be alive when the undead or the immortal roam the world?

  • Level of Characterization

    Variable. There are three basic characters in Vampire Fantasy, the vampire, the human object of desire, and the vampire hunter. Perhaps because Vampire fiction has been around for so long vampire characters have become almost a trope themselves. Some stories capitalize on the popularity of the genre and fail to create three dimensional characters, but other stories create riveting characters that are immensely engaging and just jump off the page. It is worth noting that the vampire character was not always sympathetic. Vampires have been depicted as repulsive and the epitome of evil and also as mindless killing machines devoid of personality. As vampire stories have evolved over the years, so too has the characterization of the vampire.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Variable. The story's complexity and its accompanying plot depends greatly on the targeted audience. For example, a targeted audience of teenage girls tends to focus more on romance and thus has a relatively simple plot. The reverse is also true, stories meant for a more literary audience have complex and developing plot lines—for example, the classic story Dracula is a series of letters and news clippings where the reader has to pull together the events.

  • Level of Violence

    Moderate-High. Some Vampire Fantasy is going to have the cliched pitchforks and torches that are often the precursor to violent scenes. Other stories are less graphic about violence and more graphic about sex. Nonetheless, with creatures that feed on human blood front and center, violence will always be a part of the vampire genre.

Related Fantasy Subgenres

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    When this sub-genre first emerged it was a part of the Horror genre, but in recent years it has become more Fantasy with a strong influence from Romance and Young Adult sub-genres.

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    Urban Fantasy. More recent Vampire Fantasy has a strong connection with Urban Fantasy-- the dark gloomy, supernatural atmosphere complements vampire stories.

     

  • Historical Fantasy. Many writers choose to set their vampire stories in an historical setting. Rather than retelling history with magic, writers retell history with the supernatural vampire.

     

  • Paranormal Fantasy. Set in an urban landscape but usually featuring a host of creatures like vampires, werewolves, witches, etc. This is one of the more popular fantasy subgenres right now. Paranormal Fantasy is an offshoot of Urban Fantasy that's a bit more focused on the paranormal aspect.

Vampire Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

If you don't like supernatural creatures that just might suck the blood from your body. 

Since the rise of Twilight, Vampire Fantasy has received a bit of backlash, but this is just one version of the genre's modern evolution. Vampire Fantasy is a unique sub-genre in that it is sometimes mythic and sometimes supernatural and can thus occupy both sides of the Fantasy spectrum. So, if a supernatural tale isn't to your liking, a vampire story steeped in myth might be more your cup of tea. Vampire fiction, not just its modern Fantasy incarnation, has a rich history where most readers will find an enjoyable story

Popular Vampire Fantasy Books
  • 1 Dracula


    By Bram Stoker. Though this book is not the first instance of vampires in literature, it is a defining story. It features more than just chilling storytelling; elements of horror, the gothic novel, sexual conventions, colonialism/post-colonialism, and immigration are all woven into this classic epistolary tale.

  • 2 Sookie Stackhouse/The Southern Vampire Mysteries


    By Charlaine Harris. An immensely popular series that has become a popular show on HBO. Vampires are a minority and have only recently been granted a legal status. Sookie Stackhouse is the mind-reading, sexy heroine.

  • 3 Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter


    By Laurell K. Hamilton. This series presents an alternate reality where supernatural creatures (vampires, zombies) are simply a part of society. Anita Blake is a tough heroine and necromancer. The series is a mix of fantasy, romance, horror, and mystery.

  • 4 The Twilight Saga


    By Stephanie Meyer. With an almost cult-like following, this series is targeted at the young-adult audience, specifically teenage girls. Vampires are reinvented in this series to be beautiful, sparkly, supernatural beings with special powers. A story of star-crossed lovers, danger and suspense.

  • 5 Fevre Dream


    By George R. R. Martin. A lesser known novel by the Game of Thrones creator that is a fine example of a more mythic take on vampirism. Fevre Dream is a steamboat sailing up the antebellum Mississippi River, which just so happens to be carrying the lord of the vampire race. It is a blend of history and myth.

  • 6 Interview with a Vampire


    By Anne Rice. A now classic tale of confession, this is the first book in Rice's Vampire Chronicles series. A complex story that blends the supernatural with the human condition; it will mesmerize readers. Particularly compelling amongst its pages is the story's philosophical inquiry.

  • 7 The Don Sebastian Vampire Chronicles


    By Les Daniels. The Don Sebastian Vampire Chronicles. This trilogy blends the supernatural with the historical. Each novel takes place in a different historical period filled with strife and centers on Don Sebastian, a vampire wizard

  • 8 The Vampire Files


    By P.N. Elrond. This series is an example of vampire fiction crossed with detective novels. The series centers around Jack Fleming (vampire) and Charles Escott (human), partners in 1930s Chicago.

  • 9 The Vampyre


    By John William Polidori. Written in 1819, this novella is one of the first, if not the first, successful vampire story that begins to define the genre. Successful in its time because of its connection with literary giant, Lord Byron and its use of the Gothic Horror genre

  • 10 Varney the Vampire Hunter


    By James Malcolm Rymer. A serialized story of the Gothic Horror tradition, first published in 1845. This epic series introduced many of the common vampiric tropes, like fangs that leave two punctures on their victims, superhuman strength, the vampire comes in through the window at night and attacks a sleeping maiden.

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