Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories

Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories

by Michael Sims

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802719713
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication date: 06/22/2010
Series: Connoisseur's Collections Series
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.72(h) x 1.29(d)

About the Author

Michael Sims is the author of the acclaimed Apollo's Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination, Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form, and editor of the recent The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels from the Time of Sherlock Holmes. He lives in western Pennsylvania.

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Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
kkisser on LibraryThing 5 months ago
As collections go, this is an interesting collection of the earliest vampire stories for those who love Victorian writing and vampire stories. I enjoyed the insight by Michael Sims on the history of vampire stories and their popularity. I found the collection of stories of familiar favorites to newly obscure welcoming. I think the real strength to this collection are the introductions to each story about the author and the story. As a person who likes to research everything, from the actors and directors biographies while watching their movies to annotated books, this collection is right up my alley.
SlySionnach on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I've been a fan of vampire stories for a long time, ever since learning about my mother reading Anne Rice. Of course, I shy away from the more modern romantic vampire stories and find myself loving the old, We-Suck-Your-Blood-To-Kill-You vampires. Michael Sims has created a magnificent collection of stories that Vampire Connoisseurs will know - and some that they might not! I applaud his leaving out of certain stories because of their already popular status (Le Fanu's "Carmilla" for one) in favor of those that may be a little less well-known. I've read a few of them before (particularly "The Family Vourdalak" and "The Vampyre", and the title story) but I found some that I'd never heard of (examples being "Wake Not the Dead" and "What Was It?"). He also includes some "background" information in the first part which are more, for lack of a better words, "scholarly" than stories. What's very interesting about this collection is that he not only includes blood-suckers, but a few psychic vampires. It's interesting to read how they're similar and how they affect their victims. And don't think this is all male vampire-female human relationships! You'll find a variety here.Will I reread this? Yes, definitely. Do I recommend it? To anyone who likes vampires, be it the modern day incarnation such as Edward Cullen (though they may be disappointed; these vamps don't sparkle and aren't vegetarians and romantic) or the original, true, scary beast that is cursed with living off human life.
avanders on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Review abased on ARC.This is an excellent introduction/compendium of victorian (as well as some pre-victorian and post-victorian) vampire stories.Michael Sims does a superb job of not only gathering some of the most noteworthy and influential pieces of the genre, but he introduces the work as a whole and each piece with aplomb.I typically do not read the introduction to a book until after I've read the book (and only then if I feel that it's "worth my time"). I know that this is counter-intuitive, but generally I want to read the work without someone else's opinion about the work first. (I typically do not read reviews until after I've read the book either.)In this case, however, I read the introduction as it was meant to be read -- first. What a wonderful introduction. I have dog-earred many pages (I know, gasp!) in the intro for me to follow up on and read more about the topic. I also note that Sims explains his choices effectively and intriguingly. I could not wait to get started.The stories themselves are wonderful. They represent true vampire culture and fears in the earlier times and we are able to see the morphing of the culture of vampire lore.All in all, excellent choices and excellent work.I would not recommend this book to people who think that Twilight is the end-all of vampire tales. But for those of you who are interested in the backdrop of current lore, the history, the progression, and are willing to take the time and energy to read victorian style prose... by all means, sink your teeth in...
SusieBookworm on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I thought that this was an excellent and well-put-together collection of (mostly) 19th century vampire stories. While some are quite familiar to readers (Polidori's and Byron's versions of The Vampyre, Varney the Vampire, the title story itself), others, like "Let Loose" by Mary Cholmondeley and "The Tomb of Sarah" by F.G. Loring are more obscure. The anthology is an interesting mix of travel writing and stories that range from being rather boring copycats to the overly melodramatic to the downright creepy, and present a good overview of gothic vampire literature from the 18th century to the early 20th.
StefanY on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Michael Sims' collection of vampire tales spans a wide range of authors and styles. He begins by setting the table, so to speak, with a helping of preVictorian tales and even some "factual" accounts of vampire activities reported by various individuals. The second section of the book contains tales from the Victorian era and the last section, tales from the years just following the Victorian era when the Victorian influence was still strong.There were very few tales included in this collection that I did not like and even those I appreciated for their fit within the collection. Sims provides an excellent preface to each tale, providing us with a historical picture of the author and what made them or their tale important.Overall, this collection is a fascinating exploration of the origins of the vampire in modern literature and should appeal to a wide array of readers from fans of vampire fiction to fans of Victorian literature to short story readers to history buffs.
Garp83 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
If horror is your genre you should take the time to read this surprisingly satisfying collection of Victorian era historian vampire stories, Dracula¿s Guest. If you thought that Bram Stoker¿s Dracula stood alone in its era, you will soon discover this is far from the case, although in tribute to his significance the collection¿s penultimate tale is the eponymous Stoker short story, published posthumously, that could only have been an early draft of his later novel that catapulted the vampire theme to the centrality it occupies in the horror genre to this very day. What this collection pleasantly reveals is a wide range of 19th century tales that focus upon various aspects of this theme, including the undead, the walking dead, the reluctant dead and the periphery of blood, graves, religious talismans and the like. Despite the styles of writing typical of the period, most of the stories are remarkably accessible for the modern reader and for the horror fan it is a real pleasure to uncover the roots of so much of the window-dressings of modern horror novels. Like all collections, the stories vary and some are much, much better than others. This is especially true in this kind of compendium, where the editor is obviously attempting to be comprehensive in terms of genre content, rather than just serving to entertain. For my part, my favorite stories were ¿Wake Not the Dead¿ by the little known Johann Ludwig Tieck circa 1823, and ¿The Deathly Lover¿ by the much more famous Theophile Gautier circa 1843, and the later tale ¿Luella Miller¿ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman circa 1902. If you are a Stephen King or Ann Rice junkie, or addicted to ¿Twilight¿ or ¿True Blood,¿ you owe it to yourself to go back in time to the dawn of vampire horror and read this collection.
raistlinsshadow on LibraryThing 5 months ago
As for a compilation of Victorian vampire stories, this is definitely a treat. Some of the stories were far more engaging than others, but that's to be expected in any short story collection. But the mere fact that not only are these stories from one particular era but are also arranged chronologically is also a treat, and allows for a really neat glimpse into how the vampire myth started to take hold, and what characteristics held over from one story to another. In addition, writers that aren't all that well-known nowadays were included, which gives it a nice rounded sampling from those whose popularity has continued to those who were primarily nonfiction writers in their time.Some of the stories were nonsensical, some weren't all that thrilling, but those that were chilling made it difficult to sleep at night. In spite of being only about five pages long, "And the Creature Came In" almost had me sleeping with a light on, similar with "The Family of the Vourdalak" and "Wake Not the Dead". Unfortunately, the title piece, Stoker's "Dracula's Guest", just wasn't as enthralling. Without the addition of Dracula in the title, it might as well not have involved vampires at all¿more of a werewolfian tale if I've read any.Silly bits and pieces aside, this is a good, solid compilation of Victorian vampire stories, and a good deal more satisfying than a lot of the modern novels on the market.
EmScape on LibraryThing 5 months ago
It took me forever to read this book. I kept putting it down and not really wanting to pick it back up. I found almost all the stories entirely dull, owing much to the inordinate amount of time the various authors spent on exposition and description. One describes the house and grounds of the setting in minute detail, completely unnecessary as the action of the piece takes place in one mere room of the home. Another spends almost an entire page explaining why the narrator describes in English as opposed to French. In a story of less than 40 pages, that's a great percentage of the allotted pages. I did enjoy that the editor has devoted some pages prior to the tales to introduce each of our authors. I found these more interesting at times than the fictional tales that follow. However, I would recommend this collection to every Twilight fan out there in the hopes that they might learn some new words.
harpua on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Was an interesting book. I agree with a few other reviewers here and that it was nice to get back to the type of vampires I grew up with, not the ones that are so popular nowadays. Some of the stories were hard to read, but I suspect that is just from the differences in language and writing style from previous generations. But some interesting stories here and it's a nice collection that you can pick up from time to time to read again or just pick up from where you left off.
AnnieHidalgo on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A fun book. I think the most surprising thing about Victorian literature, whenever I read it, is that it's never as dated as I expected it to be. People really are similar, throughout the ages. There are a few really great stories. I was sure I'd read "The Family of the Vourdalak" quite a few years ago, but I don't think Sims explicitly cited reprint permissions anywhere in the book, so I'm still not completely clear where. At any rate, it was an oldie but goody. "Varney the Vampire" was completely awful, but that was to be expected. Very like a cheesy silent 'horror' film. "The Tomb of Sarah" - why is it that if a character comes across something that says, 'For the sake of the dead and the welfare of the living, let this sepulchre remain untouched.', you KNOW, you always know, that it's THAT tomb that they're going to have to move six feet to the left? Predictable mayhem results. "A True Story of a Vampire" has such a modern beginning. This is the sort of beginning I WISH more modern vampire stories would have. That's the thing that attracts me to the Victorian age, I suppose. Even when they were describing the most unlikely things, often the Victorians seemed grounded. Like they understood life, or expected it to be capable of understanding, in a way we do not, in the dreadful age of postmodernism. The best stories of the volume, I thought, were "The Deathly Lover" and "Good Lady Ducayne". "The Deathly Lover" had a lot of the romance associated with vampires today - in Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer and their ilk - while I thought it was refreshing that the vampire herself wasn't sorry for what she was. As the story rightly points out, it's we mortals who feel the vampire ought to be tortured, in body or in soul. Why not be content with your lot? When I read "Good Lady Ducayne", all I could think of was Jo March from Little Women hiding Lady Audley's Secret, or perhaps some other girl of that era and literary kind. But I could see Jo reading "Good Lady Ducayne", and enjoying it. It was a satisfying little tale with a happy ending, though not, strictly speaking, a vampire story. MR James' "Count Magnus" was good, as his stories almost always are, and satisfyingly creepy. "Luella Miller" made me think of ... is it Robinson? -"Whenever Richard Cory went downtown, the people always stopped and looked at him..." that sort of small town fatalism that channels Sherwood Anderson and Faulkner in equal measures. It had such a good beginning, but the ending fell flat. On the whole, this was a very interesting anthology. A page turner, if anthologies can be. I'm interested to see what else Michael Sims has written. I am at least certain of never being bored by his work.
Osbaldistone on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Loved it. And I'm not a vampire fan. Nor do I read gothic novels much at all. But I love how this collection not only tells the reader, but shows how the literary vampire came into being. An eye opener for those of us who thought Dracula rose, fully formed, solely from Stoker's pen. I'm a history buff as well as an avid fiction reader, and this collection combines history, biography, and gothic fiction into one sell orchestrated collection.Starting with early historical accounts of vampire-like events and taking the reader through the early formative literature that led to the work of M.R. James and Bram Stoker, this collection tells the story of this literary evolution almost without a glitch. You'll find yourself saying "so that's where that came from!" more than once.Two stories that I really loved - "Good Lady Ducayne" and "Louella Miller". The voice in "Louella Miller" is nothing like you expect from such tales, and the story telling is near perfect.Loved it (did I already mention that?)Os.
jpsnow on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This collection is well executed, with a solid selection of stories that show the lineage of the modern stories that are currently so trendy. Sims clearly researched the genre within the Victorian period. I found several of his choices more sensuous and creepy than anything we see on film. The introductions to each story provide just enough context without breaking the flow. Some of the authors were well known for writing in this original fantasy genre, while others seem to have created one or two successful thrillers as a tangent to their other work.My personal favorites from this collection include: Wake Not the Dead, The Deathly Lover, The Family of the Vourdalak (by Aleksei Tolstoy, brother of Leo), Varney the Vampire, The Mysterious Stranger, And the Creature Came In, The Tomb of Sarah, and Luella Miller.
fundevogel on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I always have the most trouble reviewing collections. Invariably the stories vary, often dramatically, in tone, style, and quality making it harder to review the work as a whole. Fortunately in this case Sims has made it clear what the intent of this collection is. This is not just a collection of vampire stories, or even a collection of Victorian vampire stories. The intent here is to trace the path that vampire mythology has taken from it's earliest literary appearances until the beginning of the 20th century giving the reader the history behind the modern vampire we are so familiar with.And this it does very well. The book is arranged chronologically allowing the reader to see how later works built on earlier writings and how themes came into favor and then disappeared. I especially liked the inclusion of historical accounts mentioning vampires. Typically these would be buried in hard to find and probably otherwise uninteresting texts so it's nice to have the relevant bits reprinted here in all their esoteric glory.As far as the story quality goes its a mixed bag and favorites will probably vary a good bit from reader to reader. I tended to favor the ones that most closely resembled classic ghost stories--"Wake Not the Dead", "The Family of the Vourdalak" and "The Creature Came In". There is a tendency in a fair number of stories to commit the literary sins of the era, there is some serious sexism in "The Mysterious Stranger" and a consistent trend towards Dickensonian length over more efficient wordage. However even these are variable. Many of the later stories are down right casual in voice and even a little funny. "The Deathly Lover" even seems to take a pretty daring position on female sexuality and religion, no surprise that that one one was written by one of Oscar Wilde's buddies.I think the key thing to remember with this book is that it is a survey. The is some top shelf stuff here....and there's some serious hack writing as well. I never intend to read any more of "Varney the Vampire" than what was presented here, but it gave me more appreciation for what exactly sentences like "It was a dark and stormy night" tend to precede. In Varney's case it's about three pages of needless description followed by two of uncomfortably eroticized teenspoilation. You're not likely to come across that very often.I'd go four stars for success in really showing the development of this popular myth, but I'm dropping it to three and a half because a fair number of the stories are just so-so.
highvoltagegrrl on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I have always loved reading about vampires. I have read a lot of the fictional stories, both young adult and adult, and I have read the non-fictional encyclopedias and history of vampire lore as well. This book combines a bit of both. With each story there is an introduction of the author and where each of these stories came from or how they were conceived. Some are based off of stories they had heard, newspaper articles, and some are purely from the imagination.A few of the stories were stand-outs for me. What Was It? By Fitz-James O¿Brien, The Family of the Vourdalak by Aleksei Tolstoy and of course Dracula¿s Guest by Bram Stoker. Many of the other stories were nearly coma-inducing bores. I have never wanted to doze off so often when reading, but I found that nearly each time that I picked up this book that was what was happening. The stories couldn¿t hold my interest for long enough and many of them are quite short, so I can understand why a number of them have never been well known works.Some of the background information on the stories and the authors hype the actual stories up so much that I was getting excited to read each story, but in the end this left me feeling deceived and disappointed. This book is best for the vampire lover that only wants to read historical fiction and doesn¿t ever tire of it. I apparently need a bit more of a mix to keep things interesting and to keep me involved in the stories.
atimco on LibraryThing 5 months ago
In this collection of vampire stories from the Victorians, Michael Sims provides a fascinating look at the development of vampire mythology. He starts with some "true" accounts from the sixteenth century that set the stage for later fictional works, culminating the collection with a short work by the man himself, Bram Stoker. From the lurid "The Family of the Vourdalak" to the unintentionally funny "Varney the Vampire," from the creepy "What Was It?" to the gossipy, almost L. M. Montgomery-ish "Luella Miller," this compilation shows off the wide range of styles that have been used to treat this subject. Major writers like Byron and Braddon are included, as well as some lesser-known authors such as Alice and Claude Askew and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. The result is a satisfying read that I found hard to put down.With one or two ambiguous exceptions, the vampires portrayed in these stories are not the kind you would sympathize with or want to date. Vampires are evil! There are vampires coming back to kill their former family members and drag them into the same hellish state, vampires resorting to cunning to gain the invitation they need to attack their victims, vampires targeting children, vampires using sexual manipulation to sate their desire for blood. Many of the vampires in these stories exert a strong sexual attraction on their victims. But that attraction is never shown as a good thing, as it is in more modern tales. Good was good and bad was seductive but still bad back then!One thing I appreciated about Sims' introduction is how he avoids the usual scholarly tone of condescension toward religious people (though he does not appear to be religious himself). He makes an excellent point that vampire stories are sobering as well as entertaining, because they make us contemplate our own mortality. His short introductions before each story are informative and well written. He gives his own opinions on the story that follows and his reasons for including it, and in general I found his insights sound. It's clear that he has a passion for the genre of vampire fiction and is quite knowledgeable about it.I already have two friends lined up to borrow this book, and I think it will prove to be a popular compilation. I hope that the current fascination with paranormal and especially vampiric fiction will lead readers to discover these older gems of supernatural suspense, written in a time when vampire fiction wasn't sparkly.
randoymwords on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The selections in this anthology were chosen to give a flavor of a time period, rather than for literary or even entertainment value. As such, there are quite a few clunkers included in order to give an idea of the influences leading up to and away from Dracula. Also, at least a third of the selections are easily obtainable elsewhere; Probably more if you were looking to download them through Gutenberg rather than have them in physical book form.The editor starts out with a fluffy, pop-culture introduction to the genre. Then we get a few, very short, excerpts from eyewitness accounts of vampire folklore that would have been familiar to the Victorians. The famous 1816 Frankenstein storytelling session makes it's influence felt through Lord Byron's "The End of My Journey" and John Polidori's genre-setting account of Lord Ruthven "The Vampyre." A few other decent early stories follow.The Victorian section proper starts off with Aleksei Tolstoy's Russian flavored tale. The first chapter of the almost unreadable Varney the Vampire serial is presented. Fitz-James O'Brien's popular "What Was It?" relieves the standard motifs. There are a few welcome entries from females writers who usually get overlooked in gothic anthologies. The best, such as Mary Cholmondeley, usually display a sense of humor lacking from their male compatriots. There's a terrible story from the dry Augustus Hare that is almost a word for word rewrite of Varney the Vampire.The best story in the book is in the post-Victorian section. Mary Freeman's story of emotional vampirism, "Luella Miller", however, has become over-familiar to me through anthologizing and adoption by feminist theorists. There are two more decently written but standard entries before the printing of "Dracula's Guest" at the end. This remnant of Stoker's Dracula that his widow published as a stand-alone story after his death has recently been published with better context in Leslie Klinger's recent Annotated Dracula. Given the excellent treatment there, it seems odd to release this collection building around that particular piece.Outside of short contextual biographies for each author, we aren't given any opinion or discussion of how the stories relate to each other. The light editorial hand is always appreciated in themed collections for reading enjoyment, but given the subtitle, I was expecting more Victorian cultural background and less "Vampires are still popular."
MrsLee on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I haven't read a lot of vampire stories. My favorite so far has been Dracula. I like my monsters to be repulsive and irredeemable, not sparkly and angsty. That being said, this book is full of tales with creatures just the way I like them. I love the introduction to the book, which explains the author's theories, attraction and motivation to collect stories which were written during the 1800s about vampires. He has a neat, dry sense of humor and a nice way with words. I also enjoyed the introductions to the various authors and the times they lived in. They set the tone for the story which followed.As for the stories themselves, Sims begins with the weaker ones, and builds up to the finest near the end of the book. Because of the introductions, they all have interest, and the finer ones are riveting. Sadly, Stoker's own tale, "Dracula's Guest," belonged somewhere in the middle, not the end. I'm sure he had that honor simply because of his fame.I enjoyed this book more than I would have thought possible, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys having their flesh crawl on a moonlit, foggy night while they sit by a cozy fire.
VivalaErin on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I love the way Victorian authors always shatter the stereotype of being "proper" and withdrawn. Vampire stories, as evidenced by this anthology, have been popular for centuries and will continue. The Victorian era is one of my favorites, and this collection was fantastic. I'll be keeping this one for a re-read.
sealford on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As a huge fan of both Victorian literature and vampire tales, this book did a wonderful job of combining the two. I was familiar with a few of the stories, but most of them were brand new to me. The way in which these authors wrote still impresses me. I also appreciated how the author of this anthology gave some background information about each of the authors before going straight into their stories. Though Bram Stoker has (and probably always will be) my favorite writer of vampire lore, I have an even deeper love of Victorian authors than I had before. The new vampire stories of today can't hold a candle to these tales reminiscent of the past. Extremely well done.
silenceiseverything on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Ahh, vampires! Seriously, who doesn't love them? They have this alluring sensuality to them. Either that or they're down-right vicious. Needless to say, that the vampire has undergone a transformation as of late. They are no longer that alluring (to me anyway) and definitely not vicious. Not only have the Twilight books skewed the vision of the brutal and vicious vampire, it has made them sparkle. This is atrocious. Vampires aren't supposed to sparkle! They're supposed to kill you or turn you. Not walk along professing their "love" for a mortal. (Although, Edward was controlling as old-fashioned vampires are, so there's that). It's not only the Twilight series which has changed the vampire. Buffy (as much as I loved the show), took the award for the most angsty vampire with Angel. Whoever heard of a vampire with a soul before that? Then, they go and give awesomely vicious and brutal Spike a soul, too! Gah! But I'm happy to say that Dracula's Guest takes us back to the glory days where vampires were evil, not pretty boys with angst to rival that of teenage girls. So, okay, these vampires aren't like those vampires in the film 30 Days of Night (weren't those vampires just scary as all hell?), but they're still pretty creepy. Dracula's Guest is an anthology of classic, victorian, vampire stories. Granted, I haven't read every single story, yet (I like to dip into short stories rather than read them in one go), but I've read more than half of them and most of them are pretty damn great. At first I thought I'd have trouble reading these stories since they are classics and those are sometimes pretty dry, but they ended up being page-turners. So much that I ended up reading way into the night without realizing it and then had to watch Andy Richter Controls the Universe to get vampire thoughts out of my head (which didn't really work considering that as soon as I was drifting off, my smoke alarm went off, for no apparent reason, and I jumped up and looked out the window to make sure there wasn't a creepy, pallid, face peering into mine. There wasn't, FYI). I have to say that my favorites (so far) have to be The Family of Vourdalak by Alexsei Tolstoy and Wake Not the Dead by Johann Ludwig Tieck. The first just has the creepiest vampire who would look into his family's windows with a, you guessed it, creepy, pallid, face. Wake Not the Dead had the most vicious, manipulative, and FEMALE vampire. Add in numerous people telling the douche-bag husband "wake not the dead" and you have a story that's all types of win. Plus, there are numerous "true stories" that just really make the anthology not only scary, but interesting because you get to see what vampire customs (the garlic, the whole "they must be welcomed in" theory, etc.) started where or how they started. So, again, while I haven't finished every single story in Dracula's Guest, the good ones seem to outweight the clunkers from what I have read. And I for one rejoice in the return of the viciousness of vampires. The angsty ones can just take a hike and take there melodramatic and pathetic girlfriends with them. Edited to add that I actually finished the whole anthology today (a mere day after submitting my partial review; so much for dipping into it occasionally) and while I liked the first half better than the second half, I still think that the four star rating should stand. The stories that I thought were particular gems were What Was It? (Though not really a vampire story, I just thought it was weird and bizzare), Good Lady Ducayne (while not scary at all, it really was interesting and I liked that there were parallels between this story and the Elizabeth Bathory history), and And the Creature Came In (I don't know what it is with vampires and windows, but I don't think I'll ever look out the window with a sense of comfort ever again). I didn't really find any stories that I clicked with in Part III, but I think that's because there were only four of them while there were more in
becaussie on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is a great read for anyone who has an interest in vampire stories. The background information provided by the editor helps to set these stories in their time and gives some interesting insight into the beliefs about vampirism found throughout Europe. I still have a few more to go but so fare the stories are fun and you can start to see the development of some of the vampire lore that we know and love today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
avanders More than 1 year ago
Review abased on ARC. This is an excellent introduction/compendium of victorian (as well as some pre-victorian and post-victorian) vampire stories. Michael Sims does a superb job of not only gathering some of the most noteworthy and influential pieces of the genre, but he introduces the work as a whole and each piece with aplomb. I typically do not read the introduction to a book until after I've read the book (and only then if I feel that it's "worth my time"). I know that this is counter-intuitive, but generally I want to read the work without someone else's opinion about the work first. (I typically do not read reviews until after I've read the book either.) In this case, however, I read the introduction as it was meant to be read -- first. What a wonderful introduction. I have dog-earred many pages (I know, gasp!) in the intro for me to follow up on and read more about the topic. I also note that Sims explains his choices effectively and intriguingly. I could not wait to get started. The stories themselves are wonderful. They represent true vampire culture and fears in the earlier times and we are able to see the morphing of the culture of vampire lore. All in all, excellent choices and excellent work. I would not recommend this book to people who think that Twilight is the end-all of vampire tales. But for those of you who are interested in the backdrop of current lore, the history, the progression, and are willing to take the time and energy to read victorian style prose... by all means, sink your teeth in...
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
I have always loved reading about vampires. I have read a lot of the fictional stories, both young adult and adult, and I have read the non-fictional encyclopedias and history of vampire lore as well. This book combines a bit of both. With each story there is an introduction of the author and where each of these stories came from or how they were conceived. Some are based off of stories they had heard, newspaper articles, and some are purely from the imagination. A few of the stories were stand-outs for me. What Was It? By Fitz-James O'Brien, The Family of the Vourdalak by Aleksei Tolstoy and of course Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker. Many of the other stories were nearly coma-inducing bores. I have never wanted to doze off so often when reading, but I found that nearly each time that I picked up this book that was what was happening. The stories couldn't hold my interest for long enough and many of them are quite short, so I can understand why a number of them have never been well known works. Some of the background information on the stories and the authors hype the actual stories up so much that I was getting excited to read each story, but in the end this left me feeling deceived and disappointed. This book is best for the vampire lover that only wants to read historical fiction and doesn't ever tire of it. I apparently need a bit more of a mix to keep things interesting and to keep me involved in the stories.