Ten Vampire Novels I think all fans of the genre should read (in no particular order).
1) Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Technically not a novel but a novella published as part of the collection “Through a Glass Darkly" this is nonetheless one of the most influential Victorian Vampire stories. If you have not read this one, you owe it to yourself to experience a tragic, doomed romance (or very intense friendship) and draw your own conclusions as to the motivations and desires of Carmilla and her prey.
2) ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
The Modern Master of the Macabre’s second novel is a chilling tale of a truly evil vampire moving into a small town and essentially sucking it dry in both the literal and figurative senses. If you like your vampires evil, monstrous and traditional, this is the book for you.
3) Dracula by Bram Stoker
This one really needs to explanation or introduction. This is the single most influential vampire story EVER written. It has been adapted to stage, screen, radio, film and comics probably more than any other work ever written.
4) Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
A very different take on vampires but one filled with atmosphere, horror and sensual detail. I have been through six copies of this book since my first edition in the 90s and not because I lose them. I tend to give them away to anyone who asks me what a good, modern vampire novel is. It’s a gift I love giving to babygoths who have never heard of it.
5) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The lonely tale of the last human on earth in a world where everyone else has succumb to a virus and returned as the undead. This novel helped start the modern Zombie Apocalypse genre by inspiring George A. Romero to create “Night of the Living Dead”. The ending is such an amazing twist that has never been properly captured on film and is what gives the novel its name.
6, 7 & 8) The Sonja Blue trilogy by Nancy A. Collins
Sunglasses After Dark
In The Blood
Paint It Black
Post-Modern Vampire Punk at its absolute best. These novels are really not for everyone as they are dark, filled with horrible violence, multiple violations (both sexual and psychological) and some truly loathsome characters. Still, if you want to see the roots of things such as Vampire: The Masquerade and even hints of the TV version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, then this series is an indispensable walk on the seedier side of undeath. There are other novels after these but this trilogy stands as the best three.
9 & 10) Interview With The Vampire and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
No list of modern vampire novels would be complete without these two. Both are told from the first person point of view and while the first is an amazing book with some incredibly memorable characters (such as Claudia and Lestat) Louis can be a self-pitying bore. The second book is a lot more fun and has one of the best untrustworthy narrators ever. Lestat is full of himself, arrogant, playful and a joy to spend time with if you can stand that kind of character. Queen of the Damned is good as well but never quite reaches the heights of the first two.
There are other books that should be on this list but I wanted to whittle it down to 10. A lot of these are incredibly predictable choices but there are reasons for that. Some books are just so good, they NEED to be on a list of the best.
I don’t think I’d ever heard of the Sonja Blue novels, but they sound potentially interesting (despite my not being a BTVS fan, or into V:TM). I’m still debating on whether or not Lost Souls sounds like something I’d like…I’ve heard mixed things. (I don’t mind sick and twisted stuff, but I’ve read comments about the characters in LS being annoying, immature teenagers, and that I have no tolerance for.) Also still debating on whether or not to give I Am Legend a chance, since I found the movie rather dull.